Can artificial intelligence produce art? When a machine is the author, what effect does that have on our perception of literature? As he himself makes clear, Ross Goodwin is certainly no poet, but he is a creative technologist, a “gonzo data scientist” and an expert on artificial intelligence (AI). He’s also not the author of the book 1 the Road, but he is the author of its author—an AI machine. Goodwin trained the machine to write prose and poetry, and for this classic American literary road trip from New York to New Orleans, it “writes” using a car instead of a pen.
Goodwin mounted a surveillance camera on the car that could be pointed in four directions and hooked up a GPS receiver to a database of locations. Inside the car, a microphone recorded the conversations between Goodwin and his film crew, friends and colleagues from Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence program. The AI processed all this input into a manuscript that it produced line by line and printed out on the paper from 11 cash register rolls, which gradually filled the entire back seat.