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September 24, 1973

Dreams: A Random Printout

JAMA. 1973;225(13):1658. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220410058015

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To the Editor.—  The field of cybernetics continues to reveal computerbrain similarities, and the computer programmed to produce poetry is the analogy submitted for consideration. With a program of vocabulary, syntax, and rules of grammar, a random printout has produced a considerable body of "poetry." The argument as to whether or not this represents "creativity" is another subject, although some of the "new" combinations of words have given us some unique examples of metaphor and imagery. What the significant point is about the poetry is that the poetry has no meaning.Thus arises the premise that the brain during sleep demonstrates a random printout phenomenon known as dreaming. The infinite possibilities of the new random combinations of events stored in the brain will inevitably produce many astonishing "dream printouts" but should be regarded as having no more meaning than computer poetry.This concept will be most unacceptable to certain schools