Was it or wasn't it Shakespeare? English author is questioned by artificial intelligence
A researcher uses artificial intelligence to unravel the mystery of Shakespeare's co-author.
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According to information published by the MIT Technology Review, a Czech scientist confirmed with certainty where Shakespeare ends and where collaboration with one of his assistants begins.
Petr Plecháč, a researcher at the Czech Academy of Sciences, used machine learning to train an algorithm in the works of William Shakespeare and John Fletcher.
Plecháč’s research began after other research and rumors founded by literary analysts considered the possibility of shared authorship between Shakespeare and other authors in the creation of Henry VIII.
For much of his life, William Shakespeare was the playwright of the King's Men acting company in London. However, when Shakespeare died in 1616, the company needed a replacement and turned to one of the most prolific and famous playwrights of the time: John Fletcher.
Fletcher's fame has since been undermined but, in 1850, literary analyst James Spedding noted a similarity between Fletcher's works and passages within Shakespeare's Henry VIII.
Spedding concluded that Fletcher also spent much of his career working in collaboration, not only with Shakespeare but also with other writers. Spedding cited examples of use and phrasing that form a written "fingerprint," demonstrating that two people worked on that unique text.
But it wasn't just Spedding.
In 1980, Thomas Merriam published a statistical analysis of Henry VIII where he introduced an investigation of the text supporting the theory that Spedding formulated 120 years earlier.
The debate over Fletcher versus Shakespeare has dragged on for nearly two centuries.
Today, in 2019, Plecháč has introduced new data by studying Shakespeare's relevant work written alone, while analyzing Fletcher's work with an algorithm. The technology of Plecháč confirms the theories of Spedding and Merriam.
The study of Plecháč also dismissed a second suspicious employee of Shakespeare called Philip Massinger, however, the amount of open possibilities that can exist of more employees is unknown. The rumors continue: there are more theories not only about other collaborators of the English novelist, but about whether Shakespeare even wrote his own works.
The experiment at Plecháč follows the scientific method, where we start with a specific hypothesis and then test them under a pattern of trust. However, unlike the demonizing discourses of technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning will not write like a Fletcher or Shakespeare in the short term.
With this evidence, one can only point to one resemblance or another, but not form or develop new original literary material.