Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Outsourcing writing skills

Some incipient research from Microsoft that aims to transform prose written by authors and writers helping them choose between alternative ways to express textual ideas.
I was wondering when will they come up with automated fiction writing? Or better still, a software tool that analyzes brain patterns amongst the random thoughts occurring inside a writers head and then cobbling together a work of fiction or non-fiction? All a budding author needs to do is to sit back and think up something and presto, comes a story.
In suggesting that writers replace content words, we thus take a great deal of risk: a poor choice can dramatically alter the meaning of a sentence - or provoke unintended hilarity. The project goal is not to improve the work of poets, professional novelists, or anyone else who considers their writing art. We’re focused primarily on helping users who are writing to achieve a more pragmatic goal – say a project report, a term paper, or an email – and who would like a little assistance in order to find the right words. ..The tool can even attempt to rewrite an entire sentence, selecting among different combinations of word and phrase replacements to choose the contextually most plausible set of all substitutions proposed by the models.

Text with drawing of Tower of Babel. (1400-1499). From the renaissance and medieval manuscripts collection of the New York Public Library

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