Sunday, December 16, 2012

No more need for the 'infinite monkey theorem': Computer system writes 800,000 books

The so-called "infinite monkey theorem" says that "a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare." No need to even use a monkey that you have to feed, though: Philip M. Parker, Professor of Marketing at INSEAD Business School has created a computer system that can write books about specific subjects in about 20 minutes.

The algorithm -- which Parker has patented, as reported on Friday -- has thus far written hundreds of thousands of books. lists over 100,000 books attributed to Parker, and even has an author's page dedicated to him. Don't expect to see anything such as "Fifty Shades of Gray" coming from his company, ICON Group International, however. His program actually algorithmically compiles data into book form.

In addition to works attributed to Parker, lists an additional 700,000 works for his company.

It's not just about books, either. Other companies pay for this service to compile data for their own internal reports. Licensing of the program comes via a separate company named EdgeMaven Media.

To be clear, this is not just a computer program. It's actually a computer system that Parker uses to create these works, which include not just publications, but also videos and games.

A few examples of the books generated by Parker's system spotlights not just the subjects that are possible, but the profit:
  • Webster’s Slovak – English Thesaurus Dictionary - $28.95
  • The 2007-2012 World Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats - $795
  • The World Market for Rubber Sheath Contraceptives (Condoms): A 2007 Global Trade Perspective - $325
  • National Cultures of the World: A Statistical Reference (Cross-Cultural Statistical Encyclopedia of the World) - $115
  • Ellis-van Creveld Syndrome – A Bibliography and Dictionary for Physicians, Patients, and Genome Researchers - $28.95
  • Webster’s English to Haitian Creole Crossword Puzzles: Level 1 - $14.95
Books generated in 20 minutes by a system that could be in maintenance mode -- although it may in fact be that Parker is continue to advance the system -- shows just how much pure profit his company makes per book.

This video below features Parker explaining how his system works. Watch it, and think of all those monkeys now out of work.

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