The Automated Publishing House

The New York Times has a great arti­cle on a pro­fes­sor of man­age­ment sci­ence who has found­ed an almost com­plete­ly auto­mat­ed pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. The 200,000 books he’s pub­lished sound, well, ter­ri­ble, and ter­ri­bly over­priced: “Among the books pub­lished under his name are ‘The Offi­cial Patient’s Source­book on Acne Rosacea’ ($24.95 and 168 pages long); ‘Stick­ler Syn­drome: A Bib­li­og­ra­phy and Dic­tio­nary for Physi­cians, Patients and Genome Researchers’ ($28.95 for 126 pages); and ‘The 2007–2012 Out­look for Tuft­ed Wash­able Scat­ter Rugs, Bath­mats and Sets That Mea­sure 6‑Feet by 9‑Feet or Small­er in India’ ($495 for 144 pages).”

But Philip M. Park­er, the man behind them, is noth­ing if not ambi­tious. He’s also pro­gram­ming his machines to gen­er­ate lan­guage-learn­ing cross­words (i.e. clues in one lan­guage, answers in anoth­er), acros­tic poet­ry, and even scripts for game shows and videogames. All of this reminds me of a nov­el by Neal Stephen­son, The Dia­mond Age. In it, engi­neers of the future design a sort of arti­fi­cial­ly intel­li­gent primer for young girls–the book gen­er­ates sto­ries and lessons on the fly. Maybe Park­er’s read this one before.

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