Now that the entire species has simultaneously reported for permanent duty on the Holodeck, I find myself in 1930s San Francisco and 1940s Los Angeles for weeks at a time, lingering with Jean-Luc Picard. In this clip from “The Big Goodbye,” the eleventh episode of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, android character Data shows his mastery of the writing of this era by generating for Captain Picard a random line of hard-boiled dialogue:
“It was raining in the city by the bay.
A hard rain. Hard enough to wash the slime out of the streets and back into the holes they crawled out of. The radiator behind me cracked and popped as it fought the valiant fight to keep the cold and damp out of the office. Beyond the single pane window, the deep sounds of a far-off ship's horn echoed through the fog and rain, crying out like a lost animal in the night.
I loved the city, every stinking thing about it.”
Not bad, not bad. For a staff writer for a network sci-fi show in 1988.
Now, step aside and the let the real androids show you how it’s done.
This line is generated by GP-2, an actually existing AI system trained to generate any style and any subject of text, much in the manner simulated by Star Trek’s Data. GP-2 was fed the first line of George Orwell’s 1984, which is: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
Android-bard GP-2 picked it up from there, "I was in my car on my way to a new job in Seattle. I put the gas in, put the key in, and then I let it run. I just imagined what the day would be like. A hundred years from now."
I sometimes try and imagine what life will be like a hundred years from now, too. It makes me stop complaining about having missed out.