Roald Dahl’s “The Great Automatic Grammatizator”: Predicting A.I.
There’s a lot of talk about A.I. these days, and how people are using it to write homework assignments, essays… and fiction. Instead of taking their time to write out their ideas themselves, they pop a brief summary of the story premise into the artificial intelligence software, and allow it to produce the work for them. Sometimes they punch up the stories themselves, sometimes they leave the work as-is, unchanged.
Some short-story magazines have been swamped with submissions, and the editors claim that they can tell at a glance which stories have been carefully crafted by authors dedicated to their art, and which stories have been turned out by an A.I. program, without a scrap of the personal touch.
Part of the now-possibly-concluded writer’s strike was due to the potential use of A.I. in crafting screenplays. However, A.I. could possibly be used to write more books in series long after authors pass away or retire, though a little editing might be applied to these A.I.-written works.
But long before A.I. was a reality, Roald Dahl predicted something like it could exist. Many fans of his don’t realize that he didn’t just write children’s fiction. He also wrote short stories for adults. One of these stories was “The Great Automatic Grammatizator,” a machine that can produce books through a mechanical process. Once the machine is perfected, the inventor gets an idea: what if he could corner the market on fiction? If he could convince authors to promise never to write again, in exchange for a substantial fee, pretty soon he could create a monopoly on reading material. I won’t spoil the end of the story, of course, but like most of Dahl’s work, it has a strong moral.
If you’re wondering about the effects of A.I. on creative writing, I suggest you find a copy of Dahl’s “The Great Automatic Grammatizator” and read it. It may change the way you look at A.I. And also, check out the four new short films on Netflix based on Dahl’s stories, directed by Wes Anderson. I’ve seen two of them so far, and they’re great. Very faithful to the books, and Anderson has managed to find a visual style that somehow captures the magic of Dahl’s writing.
Chris Chan’s sequel to Sherlock’s Secretary, Nessie’s Nemesis, was published on September 3rd by MX Publishing. His novel Ghosting My Friend was released by Level Best Books on March 28th. His first novel, Sherlock’s Secretary, was released by MX Publishing, as was his anthology Of Course He Pushed Him and Other Sherlock Holmes Stories Volumes 1 & 2. His Agatha-nominated book Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter was published by Level Best Books. His first non-fiction book, Sherlock & Irene: The Secret Truth Behind “A Scandal in Bohemia” is available for sale at Amazon.com and the MX Publishing website, as well as at Book Depository (with free worldwide shipping there). It is also available in a Kindle edition.