Thursday, October 19, 2006

Screenwriting by computer

A lengthy but thought-provoking article by William Gladwell in The New Yorker looks at how computerised neural networks might be used to analyse screenplays, predict their likely box office return and modify them accordingly.
The way the neural network thinks is not that different from the way a Hollywood executive thinks: if you pitch a movie to a studio, the executive uses an ad-hoc algorithm —perfected through years of trial and error to put a value on all the components in the story. Neural networks, though, can handle problems that have a great many variables, and they never play favorites which means (at least in theory) that as long as you can give the neural network the same range of information that a human decision-maker has, it ought to come out ahead.
Apparently such approaches are starting to take hold in the music business. But, as Gladwell's article goes on to illustrate, a 90-minute screenplay is rather more complicated than three minutes of music.

Thanks to Billy Mernit for the link.

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