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Readin’ & writin’ with robots

Writers who fear that computers will someday displace them may shudder to learn that the machines won’t just write the books, they will read them too.

In recent months, both researchers and literary critics are harnessing computational power to “read” books in an effort to divine qualities human writers and readers haven’t the bandwidth to discover themselves (“The Taxonomy of Titles in the 18th Century Literary Marketplace” anyone? Anyone? Bueller?).

Among them are a trio of computer scientists at New York’s Stony Brook University who created an algorithm to predict the success of literary styles that boasts an 84 percent rate of accuracy when analyzing previously published works.

“In a paper published by the Association of Computational Linguistics, Vikas Ganjigunte Ashok, Song Feng, and Yejin Choi said the writing style of books was correlated with the success of the book,” writes Live Science contributor Joel N. Shurkin. Using a process called “statistical stylometry” to analyze literary stylings in an array of books across genres, the team identified the “characteristic stylistic elements more common in successful tomes than unsuccessful ones.”

It’s only a matter of time before researchers team up with an agency like Narrative Science, whose artificial intelligence algorithms pair data with “natural language communication” to produce written content, resulting in bestsellers by bots.


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