You're in a small room. In front of you is a screen displaying a news article about a clever a new piece of artificial intelligence. A pique of curiosity sparks across your brain. Do you (a) read on and find out more, or (b) hit the back button and read about Tom Watson instead?
Artificial Intelligence is now capable of writing branching stories, just like those found in 1980s Choose Your Own Adventure books, it has emerged.
According to CNet the new system, dubbed Scheherazade after the storyteller in One Thousand and One Nights uses Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform to crowdsource plot points from real humans (so it isn't entirely automated), but then its intelligence is used to arrange them into an exciting, branching story.
The AI sounds pretty smart as it will apparently analyse the story text and figure out what is going on in order to order the pieces of story correctly. CNet gives the example of two fragments. One where two characters meet, and one where they go to the cinema. The AI apparently knows that they can't go to the cinema together and then meet afterwards, as that wouldn't logically make sense.
Lead Investigator Mark Riedl from Georgia Tech, where the research has been carried out, said: "When enough data is available and that data sufficiently covers all aspects of the game experience, the system was able to meet or come close to meeting human performance in creating a playable story."
The performance of the AI was compared to humans in a trial - and was found to be just as good at placing the parts in the correct order.
You can see an example story play out in the video below:
So should JK Rowling et al be worried? According to the paper published on the research humans are still the most cost effective system for generating fiction - though this could presumably change relatively quickly. [CNET]