If what CNN reported in its article, The Rise of the Robo-Journalist, becomes the future of journalism, then we writers should be cringing at the prediction that a computarized algorithm-written story will win the Pulitzer Prize within five years. Narrative Science’s chief scientist, Kris Hammond believes that in twenty years, “there will be no area in which Narrative Science doesn’t write stories.”
Artificial intelligence seems to be or will be everywhere in a matter of years. I’m hearing about the Internet of All Things, where everything in your home and in your office will be interconnected and your smart TV won’t be the only thing recording and collecting data about you and your family. But having appliances eavesdrop on me didn’t make me as uneasy as reading Peter Shadbolt’s article. After all, I hope I can always unplug the toaster or buy a “dumb” refrigerator (if they’re still available by then). But the idea that in twenty years, we may be reading novels and buying books written by computer software AND giving artistic achievement awards to a bunch of algorithms really appalled me. What would there be left for humans to do? Will humanity really end up “being the biological boot loader for superintelligent AI” as Nick Bolstrom foresees in the CNN article?
And what about diversity of opinions and points of view? Those who own the computer software may end up creating a monopoly where their ideas and views (fed into the algorithms) will be the only interests we will be reading about if robots become the artists, writers and the thinkers of society. I might be exaggerating. I hope I’m.
However, I also think that stories written by people will survive and thrive. Our books will be found in an Etsy-like market, where human artistry will still be appreciated. Just like some of us who look for natural or 100% organic products because we reject chemicals and/or genetically altered products, in the future of robot writers, there will be not only a place but also readers for 100% human mind-created stories.