You’ve heard of “Snow White”, “Rapunzel”, and “Little Red Riding Hood”. Now, an AI tool is being used to script entirely new Grimms’ fairy tale 150 years after the brothers’ death.
It's called “The Princess and the Fox” and you'll be glad to know it contains all the typical fairytale story tropes, including a beautiful princess and her father, the king, emotionally forcing her into a royal marriage against her will. There is also an impoverished miller’s son, a talking animal, and a kingdom of “bread and cheese”. Wait. What?
In typical Botnik fashion, the story, at times, takes a turn for the ridiculous and random. After all, this is the same predictive writing tool that made up a book called “Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash” and had Ron “eat Hermione’s family".
To generate new stories, scripts, and boat names, data (in this case the Grimms’ fairy tale collection) is fed into the keyboard. The program then churns out entirely unique content of the same ilk by replicating patterns it picks up in the text. Unlike many other past projects, this one involved some human supervision – probably because the story is a PR stunt for a meditation app called "Calm".
"[H]uman writers took the phrases and sentences suggested by the predictive text program and began to assemble them into the rough shape of a story," Jamie Brew, Botnik CEO, explained in a statement. Then, any gaps in the story were filled in using their imagination, other algorithmic suggestions, and recommendations from Calm's story editors.
"The Princess and the Fox, belongs not to any single machine or person or pair of brothers but to the whole interconnected system of inspiration and interpretation," Brew added.
The story follows a miller's son who, with the help of a talking fox sidekick, helps rescue the princess from the fate of marrying a terrible prince. Here's a tiny snippet to get a taster:
Once upon a time, there was a golden horse with a golden saddle and a beautiful purple flower in its hair. The horse would carry the flower to the village where the princess danced for joy at the thought of looking so beautiful and good.
“It’s magnificent!” she said to her father, the king of bread and cheese. “Will you give it something to eat and drink if I finally marry the prince?”
You see, the king had long since urged his daughter to marry the only eligible prince in the land. The problem was she did not love him, and so she had continued to refuse his proposal.