Group for Experimental Methods in Humanistic Research
at Columbia University

An Inquiry into the Creative Limits of Artificial Intelligence

  • Dennis Yi Tenen

Literary theory can no more ignore the output of artificially intelligent agents than the study of labor can ignore the advent of robotics.

An Inquiry Concerning the Creative Limits of Artificial Intelligence is a book about the automation of labor in the literary sphere, as told through the story of writers’ aids past and present—narrative plotters, spell checkers, and language generators—the “shameful little secrets” of mass literary production.

In subsequent chapters I bring to view a number of algorithmic artifacts vital to the advance of artificial intelligence, on a spectrum from quasi-autonomous heuristics for combinatorial composition—style guides and “canned” literary formulae—to fully-autonomous bots—of the sort used to manufacture junk mail and disinformation campaigns on social media.