If you are a fan of the Game of Thrones series, you’re probably aware that the promised next instalment, The Winds of Winter, is taking a long time to write. Now one fan has become so impatient for the conclusion to George R.R. Martin’s epic, he has programmed an AI to write it for him. Move over, George!
A Storytelling AI
Martin's fantasy epic, and its TV adaptation, have gained a huge following over the years. Fans have been busy theorizing what will happen next in the notoriously unpredictable series for a long time, but none have gone as far as Zack Thoutt, the software engineer behind the procedurally generated new instalment.
Zack used a recurrent neural network, a sort of artificial intelligence which is capable of learning and evolving based on the input it receives. He fed the network the text of the five current books in Martin's series, so that it could learn to imitate the author's style and memorize the names of characters and locations. Having caught up on events so far, the algorithm is now tasked with generating prose in the style of the existing novels, as a continuation of the story.
So What Happens Next?
So far the network has generated five chapters, and they certainly provide some twists. Jaime kills Cersei, Varys poisons Daenerys and Jon Snow rides a dragon. The AI has even invented new characters, like the mysterious Greenbeard. The computer-generated prose, however, leaves something to be desired. Though the AI seems to have got the hang of imitating Martin's style, it has trouble generating content that makes sense. A representative quote from chapter two reads:
"He came an hour ago at sunrise, only now the stones seemed to shimmer in a blaze of fear. Each one was the lamb, and he had broken more shift, as a shadow snow brought forth from whitetree, a blade of five different. Every man of the fiery men in towers, the screaming of one had flies in those a castle, half on old wyk toward watch from farther behind, following the tall walls of an oldtown storm".
So far this new digital instalment reads more like Finnegans Wake than anything else. Though it's impressive that the network can generate such a complex text, it doesn't seem like Martin has to worry about being replaced by a robot any time soon.