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Natural Language Generation
Breaking the Hermeneutic Contract
Leah Henrickson
School of the Arts, English and Drama
@leahhenrickson
@leahhenrickson
Natural language generation (NLG)
is the process wherein
computers translate data into
readable human languages.
@leahhenrickson
There has not yet been any
systematic analysis of
computer-generated text reception.
We do not know where these texts fit
within our current conceptions of
authorship and readership.
Racter [William Chamberlain and Tom Etter], The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed (1984)
@leahhenrickson
Arria NLG <arria.com/platform> [accessed 15 January 2017] (Market Cap: 16.70M USD)
@leahhenrickson
@MagicRealismBot, Twitter <twitter.com/magicrealismbot> [accessed 3 May 2017, 13:38]
@leahhenrickson
Satoshi Sato, “A Challenge to the Third Hoshi Shinichi Award,” Proceedings of the INLG 2016 Workshop on Computational Creativity and
Natural Language Generation (Edinburgh: Association for Computational Linguistics, September 2016): 31-35 (33) (passage translated by
Yomiuri Shinbun, ‘AI-written novel passes literary prize screening’, The Japan News (23 March 2016)
<http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002826970> [web page no longer available])
The day a computer wrote a novel.
The computer, placing priority on
the pursuit of its own joy, stopped
working for humans.
@leahhenrickson
This the hermeneutic contract.
That reading is accepted as an act
wherein the reader receives an
interesting and understandable text
written by an author motivated by
intent-directed agency.
@leahhenrickson
Gillian Beer, ‘The Reader as Author’, Authorship, 3.1 (Spring 2014) <http://www.authorship.ugent.be/article/view/1066>
[accessed 20 October 2016], 5.
The reader resists; the reader complies;
the reader identifies; the reader re-makes the text,
not only in the light of the evidence provided but
also in the presence of an unuttered speaking
voice, now speaking inside us. The author as
adversary equals the reader as adversary: the
two entwine and collaborate, within the reader.
@leahhenrickson
Computer-generated texts
bring the hermeneutic contract
into question.
@leahhenrickson
Claude Closky, Les 1000 premiers nombres classés par ordre alphabétique (Paris: self-published, 1989)
<http://www.closky.info/images/Closky_Thefirstthousandnumbers_02.jpg> [accessed 19 April 2017]
@leahhenrickson
Spend the month of November writing
code that generates a novel of 50k+ words.
The ‘novel’ is defined however you want.
It could be 50,000 repetitions of the word
‘meow’. It could literally grab a random novel
from Project Gutenberg.
It doesn't matter, as long as it's 50k+ words.
@leahhenrickson
Darius Kazemi, “NaNoGenMo [2013],” GitHub, accessed January 25, 2017, https://github.com/dariusk/NaNoGenMo.
Darius Kazemi, "Teens Wander Around a House, by Darius Kazemi, #2 [Comments],” GitHub
<https://github.com/dariusk/NaNoGenMo/issues/2> [accessed 25 January 2017]
@leahhenrickson
Darius Kazemi, “Teens Wander Around a House (Version 1),” Tiny Subversions
<http://tinysubversions.com/nanogenmo/novel-1.pdf> [accessed 25 January 2017], p. 1.
@leahhenrickson
Darius Kazemi, “Teens Wander Around a House (Version 1),” Tiny Subversions
<http://tinysubversions.com/nanogenmo/novel-1.pdf> [accessed 25 January 2017], p. 47.
@leahhenrickson
Thank you.
Leah Henrickson
l.r.henrickson@lboro.ac.uk
@leahhenrickson
9 May 2017

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Natural Language Generation: Breaking the Hermeneutic Contract

  • 1. Natural Language Generation Breaking the Hermeneutic Contract Leah Henrickson School of the Arts, English and Drama @leahhenrickson
  • 2. @leahhenrickson Natural language generation (NLG) is the process wherein computers translate data into readable human languages.
  • 3. @leahhenrickson There has not yet been any systematic analysis of computer-generated text reception. We do not know where these texts fit within our current conceptions of authorship and readership.
  • 4. Racter [William Chamberlain and Tom Etter], The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed (1984) @leahhenrickson
  • 5. Arria NLG <arria.com/platform> [accessed 15 January 2017] (Market Cap: 16.70M USD) @leahhenrickson
  • 6. @MagicRealismBot, Twitter <twitter.com/magicrealismbot> [accessed 3 May 2017, 13:38] @leahhenrickson
  • 7. Satoshi Sato, “A Challenge to the Third Hoshi Shinichi Award,” Proceedings of the INLG 2016 Workshop on Computational Creativity and Natural Language Generation (Edinburgh: Association for Computational Linguistics, September 2016): 31-35 (33) (passage translated by Yomiuri Shinbun, ‘AI-written novel passes literary prize screening’, The Japan News (23 March 2016) <http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002826970> [web page no longer available]) The day a computer wrote a novel. The computer, placing priority on the pursuit of its own joy, stopped working for humans. @leahhenrickson
  • 8. This the hermeneutic contract. That reading is accepted as an act wherein the reader receives an interesting and understandable text written by an author motivated by intent-directed agency. @leahhenrickson
  • 9. Gillian Beer, ‘The Reader as Author’, Authorship, 3.1 (Spring 2014) <http://www.authorship.ugent.be/article/view/1066> [accessed 20 October 2016], 5. The reader resists; the reader complies; the reader identifies; the reader re-makes the text, not only in the light of the evidence provided but also in the presence of an unuttered speaking voice, now speaking inside us. The author as adversary equals the reader as adversary: the two entwine and collaborate, within the reader. @leahhenrickson
  • 10. Computer-generated texts bring the hermeneutic contract into question. @leahhenrickson
  • 11. Claude Closky, Les 1000 premiers nombres classés par ordre alphabétique (Paris: self-published, 1989) <http://www.closky.info/images/Closky_Thefirstthousandnumbers_02.jpg> [accessed 19 April 2017] @leahhenrickson
  • 12. Spend the month of November writing code that generates a novel of 50k+ words. The ‘novel’ is defined however you want. It could be 50,000 repetitions of the word ‘meow’. It could literally grab a random novel from Project Gutenberg. It doesn't matter, as long as it's 50k+ words. @leahhenrickson Darius Kazemi, “NaNoGenMo [2013],” GitHub, accessed January 25, 2017, https://github.com/dariusk/NaNoGenMo.
  • 13. Darius Kazemi, "Teens Wander Around a House, by Darius Kazemi, #2 [Comments],” GitHub <https://github.com/dariusk/NaNoGenMo/issues/2> [accessed 25 January 2017] @leahhenrickson
  • 14. Darius Kazemi, “Teens Wander Around a House (Version 1),” Tiny Subversions <http://tinysubversions.com/nanogenmo/novel-1.pdf> [accessed 25 January 2017], p. 1. @leahhenrickson
  • 15. Darius Kazemi, “Teens Wander Around a House (Version 1),” Tiny Subversions <http://tinysubversions.com/nanogenmo/novel-1.pdf> [accessed 25 January 2017], p. 47. @leahhenrickson