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Neukom contests in story writing & poetry

The Neukom Institute will run three new competitions in 2016:
DigiLit:// create a computer program that can write a short story.
PoetiX:// create a program that can generate a sonnet.
AlgoRhythms:// create a program that can combine music into a dance mix.

Prizes are thousands of dollars, deadline is March 15, 2016.


  [ # 1 ]

The algorithm/software should respond to a noun or noun phrase “prompt” (e.g., “hat”, “car keys”, “wedding”, “sorrow”, “violin case”) and be capable of producing an effectively unlimited number of original sonnets.

*Starts to get excited, as this would only require a few changes in Mitsuku’s poetry generator to generate 14 lines instead of random poems*

Submissions must include source code

*Suddenly loses interest*


  [ # 2 ]
Don Patrick - Aug 9, 2015:

AlgoRhythms:// create a program that can combine music into a dance mix.

Virtual DJ already does this. I remember it from my dance music producing days.


  [ # 3 ]

Good one Don, thanks!

I recently ran across these links related to computational creativity, natural language understanding, and natural language generation....

> Why do we love Picasso? A ‘creativity algorithm’ explains. (Jul 2015)

> This startup uses artificial intelligence to predict whether a Hollywood film will be a hit or a flop - just by scanning the script (Jul 2015)

> Persado uses artificial intelligence to help digital marketers write better copy (Aug 2015)


  [ # 4 ]

I had overlooked the “source code included” clause. I don’t know how they’re expecting the state of the art to enter under that condition. Plenty of amateur poetry generators on Github though. I sort of considered that challenge settled in the past, with most people concluding that the results said more about the quality of human poetry than about the AI.

Personally I am interested in the idea of story writing AI (I have a background in comics creation), but actually making the AI for it doesn’t align with my priorities. I don’t think the world really needs this. Still, it’s nice that more contests are sprouting in response to last year’s passed Turing Test.


  [ # 5 ]

Skynet-AI currently will write a short story. All you have to do is ask it.


  [ # 6 ]

Skynet-AI seemed to output the same story regardless which subject I asked it to tell about. If it was AI-generated, I could not tell. Interesting writing style though.


  [ # 7 ]

The stories Skynet-AI tells are generated by the AI on the fly. It is one of the first features I added to the bot. The theme is always the same (and so is the moral). You can’t ask it to tell a story about a specific subject.

If you didn’t need to disclose the source,  I would probably enter an enhanced version into the DigLit contest. I may still add those features to Skynet-AI, because every once in a while people do ask for stories about a topic they give.

A similar technology is used by the bot to write a press release in real-time if you ask it.


  [ # 8 ]

> similar technology is used by the bot to write a press release in real-time

There’s a product in that….  What are other examples of automated press release generators?


  [ # 9 ]

For Skynet-AI, the technology is based on JAIL (JavaScript Artificial Intelligence Language). It is used in all the bot’s responses. In its most sophisticated form, it enables press releases, stories, and small talk generation.

I have also explored NLG letters, scientific papers, and presentations.

Natural Language Generation (NLG) and the AI to use it is becoming popular:
Weather Reports
Sports Stories


  [ # 10 ]

Mitsuku can generate poems on the fly. Try saying Tell me a poem about cats/car keys/trees or whatever
You can ask for another poem on the same topic for her to generate a different one.

I’ve contacted the organisers to ask if submitting the source code is a hard and fast rule. They have replied saying they would look into it. I’ll post again if they come back to me.


  [ # 11 ]

You can probably guess I’m not so much interested in templated output as I am in machines applying the methodology of storytelling, character generation, story arcs, event planning, that sort of thing smile

I guess I can understand why the source code is part of their judging criteria, given that they’re giving the machine 24 hours and it obviously needs internet access for source material, so it can be cheated. But I’d only share code if it were just something I whipped up in two weeks, not my 12000 codelines of AI (and good luck judging that).

Looks like there were plenty of people sharing code at the NaNoGenMo event though, so I guess they’ll have entrants. Most of it is markov chains, N-grams, statistical weaving of words, randomisers, not really my thing.

I think press release generation is a very similar task to document summarisation.


  [ # 12 ]

Hey as long as the output satisfies the brief, I don’t care how it gets there smile

Giving it 24 hours and internet access is a bit of a joke. That gives a human plenty of time to write a sonnet and post it back to the bot. I personally would allow 24 seconds rather than hours.


  [ # 13 ]

Speaking of poetry in another thread: It seems source code for this contest is not an absolute requirement anymore. 6 weeks to the deadline for anyone who’s interested.

We prefer that submissions include source code, and that you provide a binary executable. The program must be completely self-contained and require no connectivity to the Internet.


  [ # 14 ]

Six weeks to write and compile code that will take a list of previously selected songs, from that list given a seed song, analyze metadata as shown in their example, create a playlist of approximately 5 to 6 songs which blend by BPM, Key, theme, take that list and merge previously downloaded MP3 versions of those songs and..true to real DJ fashion,  merge them at appropriate starting points in the song (without simply running them back to back),  fade them in and out, perhaps synthesizing beats (Using appropriate sampled kick drum and scratches where appropriate) and output audio?

Phhhhtttttttt… sweat

Although I may have to cut short my search for both the Ark of the Covenant and Holy Grail which I was HOPING to have finished in 4 weeks.




  [ # 15 ]

@ Vincent - HAHA!! Good stuff there Vincent!! I love a great sense of humor!
BTW, How’re you progressing on taming that unicorn you found? wink

4 Weeks…Go with the story telling instead of the music. You can do this!


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