The Literary Robots Are Coming!

Back in January I wrote a piece of flash fiction entitled “Robert” (http://newauthoronline.com/2015/01/18/robert/). In that story I imagined a robot capable of producing works of literature on a par with those of Tolstoy and Dickens. While browsing the internet yesterday I came across the following article which reminded me of Robert, (http://readwrite.com/2013/01/15/why-write-your-own-book-when-an-algorithm-can-do-it-for-you). Should authors be worried? I have my own views but would be interested to hear from fellow authors and readers. Should we authors all jump off the white cliffs of Dover before the machines come for us?

 

Kevin

27 thoughts on “The Literary Robots Are Coming!

      1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

        Thanks Chris. As I said in response to David’s comment, I would never say never but I can’t see it happening any time soon. Having said that, until it actually happened few people believed that a machine would ever beat a world chess champion and, of course it happened! If machines do start to produce work of great literary merit it will be interesting how this will play out in terms of the ownership of their creations. One could have the inventors of such machines and/or the companies who produce them earning huge sums of money. If machines gain the capacity to produce great literature might they also develop the human desire to retain the fruits of their labour? and even if they don’t develop an interest in material things might they not get somewhat peeved at the thought of someone other than themselves getting the credit for their masterpieces? I am smiling as I write this but stranger things have happened …

      2. The Story Reading Ape

        Indeed stranger things have happened, but in MY lifetime I’ve seen so much change they call ‘Progress’ (sometimes I wonder if it truly IS) – however, I will be long gone and forgotten before this particular event happens 😀

      3. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

        I agree, the term “pprogress” is a loaded one. There are, of course genuine reactionaries. However accusing someone of being against “progress” or “anti-progressive” can be a way of curtailing debate as no one (or very few people) want to be labelled as anti-progressive. I am sure there is much life in the old ape yet and you will continue to swing around the blogasphere for many years to come!

        Kevin

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment Victo. What is your view on the matter, both in terms of physicians and authors? I can see how certain aspects of doctoring (have I just made up a word there)?! might be automated. However, as a layman I can’t see how the myriad factors entailed in the medical profession (those which combine to make a good physician) could be automated in the forseeable future (if ever). Kevin

      Reply
      1. Victo Dolore

        They are already piloting AI in hospitals to analyze patient data and determine who is most at risk for something catastrophic (like respiratory failure). Supposedly they do a better job at it than humans. As far as writing is concerned, I cannot imagine anything could replace the human experience.

  1. davidprosser

    I’m not sure robots will be able to create much more than something basic. They’ll never be able to experience the feeling humans in love feel, or create the atmosphere of a foggy road in London with the street lights glowing because it can’t see things in the way we can.
    I say never, but at least in my lifetime I think.

    Reply
    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment David. I am inclined to agree with you. One can never say never, however I can’t see robots producing work on a par with the literary greats in the forseeable future. With clever programming one might get a machine to simulate emotion but whether the robot would be able to express those feelings with the same passion as humans is highly debatable. Kevin

      Reply
    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Possibly robots might want to replace us. However to speculate in this manner is to attribute human desires and emotions to robots. The question arises why would they want to replace us for, after all they are machines? We already see technology being incorporated into humans, for example chips allowing paralysed people to control robot arms allowing them to have a degree of independence. Perhaps rather than robots taking over, machine and man will merge producing an “enhanced” human with greater capacities to appreciate art, compete in athletics etc. The future is full of infinite possibilities! Thanks for your comment. Kevin

      Reply
      1. Let's CUT the Crap!

        I don’t disagree but already the young people aren’t using their noodles because electronic ‘toys’ are doing it for them. Machines may take over because they can withstand the ravages of time and perform many tasks man will no longer need to do. I see a kind of apathy, not in our lifetime, but who knows what robots will be capable of.

      2. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

        I hear what you say Tess and there is perhaps an element of truth in it. However there is a tendency for every generation to believe that society is going to the dogs. Today’s parents sometimes voice this view and, no doubt their children will say something similar about their children in the future. Somehow the world keeps turning.

  2. D. Wallace Peach

    I don’t believe machines will produce the great works. When I read, I’m connecting with the emotional reality and complexity of the characters. I honestly believe that only a human being can fully convey the nuance of human feelings and choices. Chins up, writers!

    Reply
    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thank you for your comment. What if human and machine merge? Already there exist ways for humans to connect directly with machines by, for example the use of a chip in the arm enabling people to open doors remotely. At present such applications are being used primarily to help people with disabilities. However as it becomes safe to implant chips in the brain perhaps we will see an enhancement of human capacities enabling the production of great literature. In effect we may see not a separate group of robots creating works of literature but enhanced humans doing so. I am no scientist but these things are, I think at least theoretically possible (whether they are desirable is an entirely different matter). Kevin

      Reply
      1. D. Wallace Peach

        I like your train of thought. Sounds like the premise for a book! Yes, I could see enhanced humans doing all sorts of incredible things including great works of literature. This all assumes that mankind won’t kill itself off first…I love the what if’s of writing. All this speculation is too fun.

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