Book written by robot almost wins literary award

The Japan News reports:

A short-form novel “coauthored” by humans and an artificial intelligence (AI) program passed the first screening process for a domestic literary prize, it was announced on Monday. However, the book did not win the final prize.

Some of you out there may interpret this news as apocalyptic. If so, you should be warned that the apocalypse is upon us already: news agencies publish stories written by robots on a regular basis, though this programmer's prediction that a robot would win the Pulitzer by 2016 seems unlikely to come true.

People have been programming computers to write novels for years now. The earliest one I can find right now is from 1993. Wikipedia says:

Just This Once is a 1993 romance novel written in the style of Jacqueline Susann by a Macintosh IIcx computer named "Hal" in collaboration with its programmer, Scott French. French reportedly spent $40,000 and 8 years developing an artificial intelligence program to analyze Susann's works and attempt to create a novel that Susann might have written. A legal dispute between the estate of Jacqueline Susann and the publisher resulted in a settlement to split the profits, and the book was referenced in several legal journal articles about copyright laws. The book had two small print runs totaling 35,000 copies, receiving mixed reviews.

Seems as though we're not very far away from the world's first critically acclaimed novel written by a computer. I, for one, welcome our new robotic Nobel Laureates.

(Via the good people at Moby Lives.)