Story Written by Computer


Will computers of the future write novels, TV scripts or blog posts like this?

Back in 1969, the idea of a computer generated TV show produced Turn-On, one of “the most infamous flops in TV history.”

The show only survived for a single episode, generating a stack of angry responses from viewers. The Dangerous Minds blog described the show:

The premise of Turn-On was that the show had been generated by a computer, at that time a heady concept indeed, as few people had ever had any real-life contact with such an object. Replacing the colorful and groovy sets of Laugh-In was a blank, featureless landscape taking place inside a large white orb

While it is very hard to find existing copies of the television show, Dangerous Minds provided a glimpse of the lost program:

The ostensible “host” was a young Tim Conway, who apparently spent the entire episode seeking to kill himself. Much of the audio track of the show was not a laugh track but was instead supplied by a Moog synthesizer, which was also quite a new sensory experience for audiences to deal with.

The AMC show Mad Men discussed Turn-On in “The Monolith” episode for a few seconds, also referencing 2001: A Space Odyssey and still timely fears about our digital future.

What do you think? Computer algorithms can already write articles. Will they ever write stories?

In the photograph above, photographer Steve Jurvetson captured the CDC 6600, a $10 million supercomputer that was “the fastest machine in the world from 1964-1969.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.