In Brief

Artificial Intelligence Pens Next Installment of 'Game of Thrones' Novels

Artificial intelligence provides an offbeat perspective on what lies ahead for the characters of "Game of Thrones." (Image credit: HBO)

Avid fans of writer George R.R. Martin's fantasy epic "A Song of Ice and Fire" — brought to the screen in the HBO series "Game of Thrones" — are facing a bit of a wait before they can find out what happens next in Westeros. The TV series just concluded its seventh season, broadcasting the finale on Aug. 27, and the last novel was published in 2011, with no release date yet announced for the final tome.

But until the story officially resumes, perhaps artificial intelligence (AI) can hint at what's to come.

Software engineer and self-professed "Game of Thrones" fan Zach Thoutt has programmed AI to write an original "novel" using the characters from the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, generating five chapters that follow the events of the first five novels and are available to read online, Vice's Motherboard reported. [5 Intriguing Uses for Artificial Intelligence (That Aren't Killer Robots)]

Thoutt worked with a recurrent neural network (RNN) — a computer program that processes data sequences, such as text, in a manner similar to how it's done in the human brain. For it to produce an original work that continued the "Game of Thrones" story, the RNN would need to learn from existing works in order to incorporate their details and mimic their style. At the same time, the RNN would need to "remember" how story arcs played out in previous books, so as not to reintroduce characters that had already died, Thoutt told Motherboard.

The RNN-generated results included intriguing — if awkwardly worded — plot twists, such as, "Varys poisoned Daenerys and another of the dead men," at the beginning of Chapter Three, and "Jaime killed Cersei and was cold and full of words, and Jon thought he was the wolf now," in Chapter Four.

"It makes a lot of mistakes because the technology to train a perfect text generator that can remember complex plots over millions of words doesn't exist yet," Thoutt said.

Clearly, AI is no replacement for Martin, but for now, this muddled "sequel" is the only game in town. The "Game of Thrones" series resumes production in October, and the eighth and final season may not be ready to air until 2019, Vanity Fair reported

The projected debut of the next book, "The Winds of Winter," is even murkier. Though Martin published an excerpt in May 2016 on his website — a chapter featuring Arianne Martell, a princess of Dorne — there is no official release date for the forthcoming novel, sparking frustration in fans that Martin acknowledged (but did not assuage) in a July 22 blog post.

"I know you all want to know about 'The Winds of Winter,'" Martin wrote. "I am still working on it, I am still months away (how many? good question), I still have good days and bad days, and that's all I care to say."

Original article on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.