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Can AI software rewrite classic literature?

AI Eye

Can AI software rewrite classic literature?

It’s no secret that Google doesn’t like writing created by artificial intelligence programs, as confirmed by several times this year by John Mueller, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it.

Online AI writers like EleutherAI are certainly clever, and are able to generate writing from a “prompt”, i.e. a passage of text. I thought it would be interesting to see what this tool did with the opening passage of Charles Dickens’ ‘Tale of Two Cities’. Would it stick to the original story, take it in a new direction, or simply fail to make any sense of it?

Below is a screenshot of what it first came up with, with the original opening paragraph in bold and the AI text in normal font:

EleutherAI 1

Interestingly, EleutherAI has taken us straight from Dickens’ setting of French Revolution-era London and Paris, and into the start of the 21st century. The style of writing is similar too, with short, simple phrases used to establish the setting.

You’ll notice, however, that the whole thing is quickly getting quite repetitive. We have “The Berlin Wall had come down” followed by “The Berlin Wall had fallen”. If we allow the tool to continue generating content using its own creation as a prompt, we get this:
EleutherAI 2

So we can see that it hasn’t taken long for the AI to get itself into a cycle of repeating the same sentence that would presumably go on infinitely.

It should be said that the tool will generate something different every time you run it, even if the initial prompt is the same. On some occasions, it recognised the book the text came from and launched into essay-style spiel about the novel, or Dickens himself. It also tends to perform better the more text you give it as a prompt, as it begins to understand characters and context.

However, the one constant is that within a few stages, it always seems to end in a repetitive loop. On one amusing occasion, the narrator kept finding himself with an “urge” to stand up and then sit down again, in what would quickly have become the most boring and tedious story ever written.

I don’t want to be too negative about EleutherAI because it’s imaginative and entertaining, and it might even serve a practical use for creative writers whose story has hit a brick wall and they don’t know where to take it next. However, it should be taken for what it is – an experimental and fun tool, not a serious way to create content.

If you’re looking for writing that doesn’t go around in circles and has genuine search engine optimisation (SEO) benefits for your site, speak to Engage Web today.

John Murray

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