One hundred years from now, might we see the Nobel Prize for literature awarded to the engineer of the algorithm that, embedded in a machine, produced the novel that might, in our era, have been the reason for the prize?
(In my scenario, the algorithm is not literature on its own; it is exactly what it is, the code that eventually produces the novel. One might see the algorithm as literature on its own special terms of elegance, power, etc., but not on the scenario imagined here, in which it is instructions that cause the machine to produce a novel of enduring truth and beauty. And, again for purposes of this question, the engineer is not the author of the novel, but strictly the writer of the code.)
Added from my comment:
Let’s stipulate that the algorithm has produced, in serial order, a novel that successfully and movingly reproduces The Red and the Black in the 21st century; a volume of war poetry as good, according to all the critics, as Rene Char’s Leaves of Hypnos; and a book of essays, the lead of which is widely celebrated as the equal of Orwell’s Politics and the English Language. In other words, the work is not trivial, and is not produced randomly, monkeys and typewriters.
(By the way, these idle thoughts are what happens when the house has no power and no internet, the law school building’s power is out, and I’m sitting up at the main campus checking my email. Amazing, though, the weird sense that I might just stay home and ... read a book. I read an outstanding essay from Coase’s collection of essays on economists, and found myself forced to come hang out at the main campus and feed my dopamine cycle addictions.)
Also, interesting question in the comments – is the engineer the equivalent of Gutenberg? It seems to me a different role, and the reason I’ve posed the question is to try and understand what, exactly. It’s not a completely idle question, of course. As I tried unsuccessfully to explain to my daughter, production is increasingly shifting from the thing to creating, tending, and maintaining the algorithm that makes the thing.
Finally, yes, yes, I just do like the neologism “Algorithmaker” – I think it’s ... fetching!