‘New’ Grimms tale created by cloning

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a new Grimms fairy tale was published - 150 years after the brothers died, thanks to artificial intelligence.

The Princess and the Fox being released today is the first Grimms story for two centuries and has been created by a software company using a computer programme in collaboration with a group of writers, Botnik, that experiments with machine intelligence to create writing. (http://botnik.org/content/harry-potter.html)

“You might call it a form of literary cloning” said Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm (www.calm.com), the meditation and sleep app that commissioned the new as one of its  “Sleep Stories”, or bedtime stories for adults. 

The new story is the tale of a king, a magical golden horse, a forlorn princess and a poor miller’s son, released today as The Lost Grimm Fairy Tale. A talking fox helps the miller’s son to rescue the beautiful princess from the fate of having to marry a prince she does not love.

Calm commissioned Botnik to train its predictive text program, known as Voicebox, on the collected stories of the Brothers Grimm. The program works like predictive text, but instead suggesting words and phrases based on the writing of the author whose work it has digested. Another of Botnik’s experiments it to create a chapter from a spoof new Harry Potter book (www.botnik.org).

“The human writers took the phrases and sentences suggested by the predictive text program and began to assemble them into the rough shape of a story” said Jamie Brew, CEO of Botnik and one of the three human writers who helped craft the story. “We then filled in the gaps, either using further algorithmic suggestions from the keyboard or simply by writing details that struck us, the writers, as natural completions of the scene.”  

listen to an excerpt here 

The German folklorists Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859) Grimm were academics who became the most famous compilers of traditional folk tales for children, with oral stories such as Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. They were published in two volumes of Children’s and Household Tales in 1812 and 1815, and have been published in over 100 languages.


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