In 2014, Keren Toledano gave a Markov Bot, coded by HackPrinceton, access to all of her Facebook content since 2005. It created speech that mimicked her own voice based on a mixture model of bigram and unigram probabilities. The bot worked by choosing a random word from inputs, then generated a response by choosing another word that was identified as a successor to the previous one. She submitted the bot-written poetry for publication and was published, leading to the fundamental question — who was the author?
The distinction between originality and simulacra is dwindling. It's essential that we work to define boundaries as technology and art progress. AI poses challenges to authorship as we conceive of it today. We need a critical imagining of what creation looks like when supplemented by automation.
Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.