The Writers of Tomorrow: Algorithms

David Foster Wallace, the brilliant professor and author, killed himself in 2008 after a lifelong battle with depression.

Time Magazine included Wallace’s book “Infinite Jest” on a list of the 100 greatest novels. It was an imagined vision of a dystopian future of North America. His death left many of his fans and students bewildered.

Wallace did leave behind a little present to the world. An unfinished book called “The Pale King.” He had worked on it for years. It was abandoned in a non-ordered and disarranged mess.

Wallace’s publisher decided to finish and distribute “The Pale King.”  A team of book doctors set to work on filling the holes and gaps left behind by its author.

The task apparently took them several years to complete.

In the future, this type of work will be unnecessary. The writing patterns and information connections of authors will be duplicated by computers. These machines will understand the author’s syntax and word choices and their contextual leaps and the links between ideas. A simple, home computer will be able to complete a manuscript in the style of any author by computing a simple algorithm containing all the aforementioned data.

Wallace enjoyed his own brilliance. He knew his writing was special. But even he may have been amused at the thought of a wind-up humanoid clanking away at a keyboard, producing instant works that Tolstoy and Nabokov pained over for years.

If computers can someday produce works of fiction and nonfiction as good as humans, what will the authors of tomorrow do?

Writers will then be forced to be brilliant rather than avant-garde and cutting edge. This will at least give the machines something to aspire to.


About Blog Boss

Jim MacKenzie and Sarah Giavedoni are the creators of the blogs Stuff Monsters Like, the Incredible Vanishing Paperweight, and more. When they are not blogging, they are devoted to managing the Asheville Blogger Society, watching movies, running a completely unrelated nonprofit, and making money at their paid employment.
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