An AI discovery stunned literature enthusiasts in early 2023. An artificial intelligence (AI) technology being used to transcribe anonymous historic works at Spain‘s National Library managed to identify a play that was actually written by Felix Lope de Vega, one of Spain’s great playwrights.
How did the AI discovery come about?
According to CNN: “The National Library said on Tuesday that experts later confirmed that the Baroque playwright — one of the most prominent names of the Spanish Golden Age — wrote “La francesa Laura” (The Frenchwoman Laura) a few years before his death in 1635.”
The manuscript in the library’s archives is a copy. However, no one knew there was an original. That may have been destroyed.
Researchers from universities in Vienna and Valladolid used AI to digitize 1,300 anonymous manuscripts and books at the library. This allowed a machine to scan the text and transcribe it without requiring years of human labor.
The algorithm was also designed to compare traits of the previously anonymous plays to known plays in order to find similarities. And that’s precisely how La francesca Laura was identified as one of Felix Lope de Vega’s plays.
The National Library said the words used in the text were “closely aligned with Lope’s, and not with those of the other 350 playwrights who were part of the experiment.”
According to CNN, “Experts then used traditional philological research resources to corroborate the findings.” In other words, they went through the known history of the author for hints that he wrote such a play.
A new classic
CNN summarized the play:
“The plot focuses around Laura, the daughter of the Duke of Brittany and wife to Count Arnaldo. The heir to the French throne is captivated by her, and although she rejects him, her jealous husband tries to poison her. Ultimately, Laura’s righteousness is proven and happiness is restored.”
The play will be published by Gredos publishing house later in 2023. — WTF fun facts