Will the Day Come When Androids Write Fiction?

Dear Commons Community,

Claire Fallon, Books and Culture Writer for The Huffington Post, explores the possibility of androids writing fiction. Referencing a blog posting by the writer James Bridle, she questions whether we may be coming to the day when artificial intelligence reaches a tipping point when machines can use “imagination” and “experiences” to write or at least co-author fiction.  Here is an excerpt:

“Robots that write fiction? You couldn’t make it up.” The Guardian headline plays on a trope that, at its core, is rather insulting to fiction writers, who have a pretty good track record of making up wild things — concepts far more imaginative than stories composed by AI.

Putting that aside, James Bridle’s breezy blog in The Guardian looks ahead eagerly to a time when fiction will no longer be the exclusive realm of living authors. “Robot writers could become co-authors of our most complex subjects, helping to write the narratives of climate change and political upheaval,” he breathlessly speculates, without specifying why robots would excel at writing about these topics or how they would collaborate with humans, as he implies. Still, could they?

Well, perhaps, the way that “soothing mothers” might “give up their babies, plot bank robberies and become threatening bank robbers” — just one scenario generated by the Metaphor Magnet, a fiction-writing robot, for an earlier Guardian piece. It’s not impossible, but there’s no particular evidence that it will happen that way.

Lest we get too eager, there are still significant hurdles for machines to clear before the day they make novelists superfluous.”

Fallon goes on to mention several examples of software programs that tease the possibilities.

“The What-If Machine [Computational Creativity Project in Europe] tosses out intriguing hypotheticals, of the sort that might spark a full work of fiction; if a writer wants to loosen up by checking out some totally crazy computer-generated scenarios, WHIM is a pretty solid bet to get the creative juices flowing.

That said, these scenarios don’t really make up stories, and most sound stilted, trite or absurd.”

The idea of droids or software writing fiction is somewhere in humankind’s future – exactly when is hard to say.


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