The Monkey Corpus

 

I shouldn’t have published this. You will see why.

“Borges’ fantasy – our reality” is one of the slogans used by the new Silicon Valley corporation, Monkey Corpus. More ambitious than Google, which simply strips existing libraries for its global digital collection, Monkey Corpus has started to build something like Borges’ “total library” by unleashing its computing powers in a “creative” way. Like the army of monkey-typists which – given all eternity – can’t fail to hammer out a Hamlet, Tom Sawyer or next year’s NYT bestseller list, Monkey Corpus’s text engines (which the company calls “monkeys”) are racing against all the world’s authors and text writers to produce whatever they might produce before they’ve had a chance to come up with it.

The company is aware, of course, that eternity is not at its disposal (or at least, does not provide an economically realistic time frame). But its monkeys are smart, and the texts they produce are not random but structured by complex algorithms derived from all kinds of human texts, from Twitter messages to academic articles.

These texts are rarely as substantial as a complete novel or even a short story. The online Monkey Text Corpus contains merely such bits and pieces as may have enough substance to enjoy copyright protection. For this is the company’s aim – to secure the rights of whatever might be published before it has been published.

Copyright is legal quicksand, but under pressure of the aggressive policies of Monkey Corpus this quicksand is quickly stabilizing. “Rationalizing copyright in a world without authors”, is the slogan heading the Monkey Corpus website.

Of course it has been said copyright protection should serve to encourage creativity, and that the company is abusing this protection. The official answer is that forced competition can only stimulate human creativity. In the end however it matters little to the company whether anything is created by humans for humans, or purely mechanically for profit (as long as the money flows their way).

In order to avoid copyright claims, any author will have to check the online Monkey Text Corpus. So I pasted this text I’ve just written into its search engine. 80% plagiarized, it tells me. I suspect the monkey calls its own whatever you feed it.

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