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What are story machines?

For over four hundred years, human writers, from Jonathan Swift to Road Dahl, have been fascinated by the possibility of machines that tell stories. We can now build these devices.

In 1845, the grocer, upholsterer and inventor John Clark exhibited in London a machine that automatically generated line after line of perfectly formed Latin verse.

In 1949, Christopher Strachey, a colleague of Alan Turing in Manchester, programmed a computer to generate love letters.

In 1993, Scott French authored Just This Once, the first published novel created in partnership with a computer.

In 1999, Rafael Pérez y Pérez developed MEXICA, a program to generate stories of ancient México based on how human authors write.

In 2019, the OpenAI company released GPT-2, a program that generated believable short stories on any theme.

In 2022, media giants including Bloomberg and Reuters employ AI programs to write news stories, games companies develop storytelling characters, researchers design story machines that combine AI neural networks and models of human storytelling, and Story Machines: How Computers Have Become Creative Writers is published by Routledge.