Real-World Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is already something I've posted about before and will again. It's probably one of my favourite sci-fi subjects.
So I could go into Clarkes Laws, or a list of my favourite AI character or rant about the Technological Singularity. But then I saw yet another article on the BBC exclaiming that automatons are going to take our jobs.
Does that mean in twenty years, all our writing jobs might be taken over by machines? Probably not, but here are three programmes trying their hardest!
Benjamin is a long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network. It was conceived Oscar Sharp, a BAFTA-nominated filmmaker and AI researcher Ross Godwin. It was produced by End Cue, a film production company.
What they did was to feed an AI hundreds of sci-fi screenplays and then tell it to create its own. This is what it created:
Riveting, right? If you didn't quite follow, Sunspring is the story of three people; H, H3 and C living in a future world. They are caught in a heartbreaking love triangle. Then H suddenly has a eye in his hand. Moving stuff.
So it's not perfect - but, I have to say, I've seen worse in the more up-it-self, pretentious abstract short film.
Botnik, as they say on their website, "is a community of writers, artists and developers using machines to create things on and off the internet."
Far less intelligent than Benjamin, Botnik really boils down to a predictive text machine, like what you have on your phone. The programme has been fed lots of different material and now has a fairly good idea of what words come next in the context. It's far clearer if you pop over and have a go.
Unfortunately, this has led to... unexpected results. In 2017. Botnik was given all seven Harry Potter books to digest and see what happened. What Botnik produced was the riveting tale of "Harry Potter and the portrait of what looked like a Large Pile of Ash."
It includes such classics as:
“He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family. Ron’s Ron shirt was just as bad as Ron himself. ‘If you two can’t clump happily, I’m going to get aggressive,’ confessed the reasonable Hermione.” To Harry, Ron was a loud, slow, and soft bird. Harry did not like to think about birds. They looked at the door, screaming about how closed it was and asking it to be replaced with a small orb. The password was ‘BEEF WOMEN,’ Hermione cried
My favourite of all the algorithms which are one day going to take my job. In December 2017, Wired magazine published the short story Twinkle, Twinkle.
Apparently written by Stephen Marche, it revolves around the idea that there is an Otherworld, which can be viewed through some sort of machine. They are able to watch the primitive inhabitants of the Otherworld and what they got up to. However, people are bored with the idea of intelligent life in space. Anne, on her first day of the job, knows she must find something interesting enough to keep the project funded but is also intrigued and enthralled by what she sees.
Not bad, kind of reminds me of the Moon Hoax story, actually.
As you can guess by now, Twinkle, Twinkle was actually written by the algorithm SciFiQ. SciFiQ, created by Julian Brooke and Adam Hamond, was given fourteen thematic “rules” and 24 stylistic targets it had to meet when producing a sci-fi story.
And you know what - other than the fact it's written as though English is its third language, the basic concept and idea was fascinating. If I were hearing this in my writer's group, I would tell them to keep going but maybe turn on their grammar checker.
The story was given to a couple of critics (human critics) without them being told a computer had written it. And they did seem to detect something was amiss. One said:
This seems to come from a writer who has an interesting, if still undeveloped, idea and a strong sense of his/her fictional landscape but who hasn’t quite put enough thought into the narrative trajectory of the story or the details of the language, which, line by line, can feel a little pedestrian.
And my favourite criticism:
Who talks like this?
Please, please do give this article and story a read. It's really fascinating. And for more information, head over to Adam Hammond's website.
The day may be enviable when we have to bow before our computer overlords. But today is not that day.
If you're after more artificial intelligence posts, this is the blog for you! Check out Sophia the Robot and how Westworld is closer than we think. Or go here for a test on whether or not you're a Bladerunner replicant!
Cover image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay