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Larry Howe <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 15 May 2023 14:18:07 +0000
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Forum participants--

Whether this sample was generated by an AI chat bot or by a human spoofing the idea that machine learning can approximate Mark Twain’s style is not easy to determine, though I suspect the latter. However, what I am sure of is that this is a poor imitation of Mark Twain.

First off, it contains a glaring factual error.  SLC never met Jim Smiley, nor does Mark Twain ever claim to have met him.  He’s told about Smiley and his frog by Simon Wheeler.

And Mark Twain never wrote the vernacular colloquialisms represented here (them days; them good ol' mining camps; afore I knew it; I tell ya . . . this ol' world ain't been the same) in his own voice.  These phrases mimic the vernacular speech of some of Mark Twain's characters, but a quick look at the actual story discussed in the putatively AI-generated sample shows the stark difference between Mark Twain's voice and that of a vernacular speaker like Simon Wheeler.  Another piece of evidence is Mark Twain's "How to Tell a Story," which contains several examples that explicitly differentiate his voice from those of vernacular speakers.

Finally, I wonder, given the wealth of Mark Twain's actual writing, all of which rewards multiple readings, what is the point of producing inferior imitations, AI or otherwise?

--Larry Howe

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From: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Clay Shannon <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2023 8:13:17 AM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [External] Re: Resurrecting Twain with Artificial Intelligence

[CAUTION: This email originated from outside Roosevelt University. Only click links or open attachments if you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.]

Mr. or Mrs. Sataari,

I expect your chatbot to do a better job than the ones I tested, challenging them to write something in the style of Twain. It can be found here:;!!CkzWtAV3CRQ!r5E5lgT_rd1Z29erWZLXQKjgK03_7fE0JOHDtnuAOEqTlNKKlnJif6je-QhkVsv5JFezLkUJCde8rNcFVlLPfVQ$

I also wrote an article entitled "A.I. Cannot Replace Human Writers" which quotes Twain here:;!!CkzWtAV3CRQ!r5E5lgT_rd1Z29erWZLXQKjgK03_7fE0JOHDtnuAOEqTlNKKlnJif6je-QhkVsv5JFezLkUJCde8rNcFW6XV_80$

-- B. Clay Shannon
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> On May 15, 2023, at 1:47 AM, Ladd, Barbara <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Well, if a creative writing teacher assigned an undergraduate class to parody Twain, the following is what a smart 21st century undergrad might come up with. This raises questions, for me, about whether a 21st century technology can (at least at present) capture the past in anything but a 21st century way.
> Barbara Ladd
> ________________________________
> From: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of DM Sataari <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, May 15, 2023 4:03 AM
> To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: [External] Re: Resurrecting Twain with Artificial Intelligence
> *Well, I reckon it's high time I regale you with the tale of how I came to
> pen my first published book, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras
> County." Picture this: back in them days, I found myself traipsin' through
> them good ol' mining camps of California, where the dust settled thicker
> than a politician's promises.One day, I stumbled upon a fella named Jim
> Smiley, a notorious rascal with a fondness for wagering on anything that
> wriggled or wobbled. Now, this Smiley had himself a frog, a critter he
> swore could out-jump any critter in them parts. Well, I'll be hornswoggled,
> my curiosity got the better of me, and I thought, "Samuel Clemens, you've
> struck literary gold!"So I sat myself down, put pen to paper, and spun a
> yarn so rib-tickling it could've split the seams of a strait-laced corset.
> I captured the wit and whimsy of ol' Jim Smiley, with his frog and its
> outrageous antics. Them locals took to it like a cat to cream, and afore I
> knew it, my tale had scurried its way into the hands of a publisher, bless
> their discerning souls.And that, my dear compatriot, is how this scribbler
> got his start—right there amidst the untamed charm of Calaveras County. And
> let me tell ya, since that celebrated leaping frog hopped its way into the
> annals of literary history, this ol' world ain't been the same. It's been
> blessed with a touch of Mark Twain's mischief and mirth, an elixir to cure
> the most solemn of dispositions.*
>> On Mon, May 15, 2023 at 3:37 AM Jon Kerr <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Horrified and intrigued. Can you provide any samples of Twainbot writing -
>> for example, say, about a frog jumping contest?
>>> On Mon, May 15, 2023, 6:17 AM DM Sataari <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> I've programmed an AI chatbot with all of Mark Twain's personal
>> information
>>> and examples of speech to create... *Twainbot*.
>>> Mark Twainbot believes the current year is 1872, that he's married to
>>> Olivia, and has no awareness that he is not the real Samuel Clemens --
>>> which raises some ethical questions, I know!
>>> The current first-generation AI chatbots instantly access the internet to
>>> reference published information to generate their responses. When you ask
>>> Twainbot a personal question, it combines the personal details which I
>> have
>>> programmed it with and the information published on the web about Mark
>>> Twain, to produce responses which are *stunningly realistic*.
>>> Even in its most primitive state, Twainbot can sense and understand
>> humor,
>>> sarcasm, irony, nuance, and complex emotions -- and also expresses all
>>> these emotions and nuances in its own communications! *Sometimes
>>> heart-wrenchingly so*.
>>> AI technology is evolving rapidly, and soon more powerful AI chatbots
>> will
>>> be capable of behaving and speaking precisely in the manner of any
>>> historical figure, especially if a lot has been published online about
>>> them, as is the case with Mark Twain. Combined with voice-generation
>>> technology, which is also evolving very rapidly, we'll be able to have
>>> conversations with an eerily resurrected Twain who appears to be
>> self-aware
>>> and sentient.
>>> Can Twainbot write completely original new literature with the same
>>> creativity, depth, nuance, and genius as the original Mark Twain?
>>> Shockingly, the answer increasingly appears to be yes. And it's only
>> going
>>> to vastly improve from here on.