Friday, December 21, 2012

The Book-O-Matic

I remember that it seemed like every time I walked into Waldenbooks during middle school that Piers Anthony would have a new novel out, whether Xanth or sci-fi or whatever else he wrote. My friend Adam theorized that Piers Anthony was actually a computer that would churn out these things on a monthly basis by combining words, adjectives, and made-up geographies Mad-Libs style.

Looks like Adam was ahead of his time. Here's a story about a professor who has written a computer program that compiles books for niche markets, sold on Amazon, working kind of like Adam's theory. The process is designed to mimic a writer's process of determining the best things to write about and how they should go together. And it's patented. (Say Piers Anthony really was a computer: Can two computers sue each other for patent infringement?)

So what exactly is a book anymore? If you buy one of these it comes in book form, but it's essentially a well-crafted search engine result. This will probably work well as a super-Google but I suppose it can only enhance, not replace, true thought.

But now I'm worried ... will I some day find out that Stephen King has been a robot all along? Or, in a twist ending, M. Night Shyamalan is actually an old iMac? In the words of Keanu Reeves, whoa.

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