Confession. I read a lot. Books and magazines mostly. Oh, and newspapers. Yeah, newspapers.
Good reading habits are integral to writer’s success. Books hone the craft. I’ve always read newspapers. Those little little snippet articles in the back pages provide wonderful fodder for imagination.
Of late, Wired has become one of my favorite magazines. I’m not a very techie person. I’m not into gadgets as much more than an interesting conversation starter.
I am intrigued by the “what if” proposition in a many of their features though. The editors of Wired are masters of crafting pieces that touch on tech’s influence in our lives from a variety of angles.
This month, they explored a “what if” scenario that dealt with future ghostwriting.
Writer Stephen Marche took us down a curious rabbit hole. With so much being written about how Artificial Intelligence is poised to reshape the landscape of both blue and white collar jobs, Marche explored the possibility of robot writing, a dystopian scenario that someday a bot could write a great work of fiction.
Specific to this article, Marche appropriately challenged a bot to write a work of science fiction.
As I read Marche’s introduction, I must admit that I went a little pale. I got a familiar kind of feeling, kind of like when I open a letter and realize one of those robot speed detectors caught me doing 47 in a 25.
Could such an audacious thing as robot writing be future ghostwriting?
Marche described in detail how a particular bot was going to craft an original work of fiction. He talked about the technology and revealed a well thought out formula and then followed it up with what the bot produced.
The experiment wasn’t simply hypothetical. It was real.
I won’t reveal much more than that on the substance. You really should go out and pick up an issue of Wired for yourself and see how that story and Marche’s premise makes you feel.
What I will say however is this. To realize that what I read on the page was only the awkward beginnings of AI’s creep into the creative world was eerie. The concept of an “uncanny valley” was never more alive than as I felt myself pulled into the story as I am prone to do. I’ve felt the uneasy wave watching digitized actors on the screen, cringed at automated voices, but this was something far different and more nuanced.
While on one hand I don’t believe the robots are coming for my job, I recognized that the robot writing genie had been let out of the bottle. In some way, as bots have presented themselves as future players in elections, social media and a host of other things, they are also one of the possible future ghostwriting scenarios.
How does the idea of robot writing make you feel? Have you read the article? Does the idea of creativity and fiction become less (or more) when you remove the human experience?
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