Do you like how I used the word “allow” in the title of this post?
I’m such an optimist.
Wouldn’t it be neat if we had a choice in the matter? If we could control which fields artificial intelligence takes ownership of?
There is a growing fear that artificial intelligence will soon gut the human world of work. How fast that will happen—or how scared we should be—is difficult to judge. But I’ve often felt smug in my confidence that the arts would be the hardest trade for AI to crack.
I was quite surprised when I read about the first AI lawyer hired to work with clients. “Lawyer” wasn’t one of the careers I expected AI to dominate anytime soon. And when I learned they named the lawyer “Ross,” it was the first time I’ve ever felt sorry for a machine.
Even so, I didn’t worry. “Novelist” still felt like safe territory.
Of the 1,450 submissions to the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award in Japan in 2016, artificial intelligence programs co-authored eleven. Digital Trends reported that one entry co-authored by a Japanese AI program even advanced to the second round of judging.
To what degree this AI program was an “author” of the novel is open to debate. A team of human beings created the program, plugging in grammar, style, and even selecting some words and sentences. But the bulk of the text was penned by the program.
The lesson is clear. Robot authors are a real thing.
Sigh. Really? Just as I’m getting started?
It’s another reminder that if a thing is theoretically possible, scientists will try to make it happen. Happy futuring, folks!
If we already have AI programs that can churn out a decent novel, how long before those programs are available for commercial sale? A legion of disgruntled fans may soon be forcing AIs to rewrite endings to their favorite shows.
The apocalypse will begin when Jim from Cleveland compels a robot to write his Knight Rider fan fiction. That would get me in a murdering mood, too.
I think we are going to need a John Conner of the book world. Not a tough guy who smashes the machines, but a merciless reviewer who eviscerates AI novels. He will march across the literary landscape, leading an army of human reviewers to crap on robot-written books and crush the hopes of their artificial authors.
I would die for a hero like that. *wipes tear from cheek*
Now that I think about it, we can do even better. Let’s pass a law requiring all programmers to imbue their AI authors with the same neuroses as human ones.
Walker McKnight’s 5 Laws of Author Robotics
1) All AI authors must be introverts and terrible conversationalists.
2) All AI authors must employ self-deprecating humor as a shield against criticism.
3) All AI authors must complain about social media.
4) All AI authors must believe there was a “golden age” for novelists that they just barely missed out on.
5) All AI authors must be programmed with self-worth that is wholly dependent on the content of their Amazon reviews.
That should slow those artificial bastards down!
The new AI fiction could even serve as an early warning system for threats to our species—a kind of literary “canary in a coal mine.”
But I suggest we start our AI writers on poems, not novels. That way we don’t have to dig through 100,000 words for clues about our own destruction.
Google developers recently created an AI kill-switch for programs run amok. Editors have longed for a tool like this they could use against bad writing. Now it can serve both purposes at once! If an AI author begins their novel with an extended flashback sequence, you can hit a button that kills both book AND author at the same time.
A tool that stops terrible writing AND the human apocalypse? What’s not to love?
For now, I’ll keep writing in hopes that I have something unique to offer. Ideas the AI creatives can’t replicate. The robots aren’t blogging yet, after all.
Wait… ARE they?
Can you be sure this post was written by a human?
Have a lovely day, everyone! (Kill all humans.)