September 9, 2003

Machine Learning and Literary Work

by Nick Montfort · , 4:33 pm

I’ve been thinking about machine learning more acutely than usual recently, since I’m part of a seminar on the topic this semester. And I’ve been wondering about literary applications of support vector machines and kernel methods and so on. (Sounds fun, doesn’t it?)

One of my fellow denizens of ifMUD put together a short article a while back about how recent AI techniques, including machine learning, might be used in IF. The suggestion that the NPCs might learn about the game world reminded me of some work in the Oz project (“I am learning my voice”). Still, that’s one of several ideas I have heard about that seem to specifically focus on optimzing parts of the virtual world, in relation to one another rather than in relation to the user. I’m interested in how systems can be enhanced to improve the interactive literary qualities of the work. While the article introduces statistical AI to those who may have different AI associations, it doesn’t list existing literary work that has been done using, for instance, machine learning techniques. I can think of a few creative computer systems (Black & White, for instance) that use techniques like reinforcement learning, but except for the poetry generator Gnoetry I can’t think of much literary work along these lines, and nothing interactive.

Surely the field of research that brought us face recognition, credit card fraud detection, and handwritten digit classification must have borne some literary fruit?