Fandango’s Provocative Question #198

Unless AI “brains” suddenly develop an ability to grow intelligence beyond what was built into them, it won’t happen. That being said, it doesn’t mean they won’t take over huge sections of writing currently held by live people.

Since as far as I know, AIs are created, not born. Therefore, they can’t exceed the intelligence of whoever designed their software. They can do what they are programmed to do. With practice, they can get very good at it. I’m sure they will be able to imitate the styles of existing authors. They can, if programming allows, find millions of plots from previously published books, blogs and newsletters. With small changes, they will become the plots for AI novels of the future and I’m sure many people won’t notice the difference.

We have gotten used to repetition. All the shows that are nearly identical procedurals? The FBI series? All the CSIs? They are so formulaic we can often mouth the dialogue before the actors say it. There’s a good chance few people will notice the repetition and many who do notice won’t care.

Originality? How?

The programming software of an AI is in many ways similar to our DNA helix. A human can be what we are designed to be. We can be the best, most evolved version of what is our DNA has made possible, but we can’t exceed the potential of the DNA with which we were born. However, we do mutate and the potential combinations of DNA in any human is infinite.

There are quite a few sci fi novels — written more than 25 years ago — that predicted this exact issue. I never doubted they were right. What you won’t see from AI is originality and uniqueness. Robots can and will revoice, copy and rephrase existing authors. They will be able to write grammatically flawless material after being programed to do so and might even lose that robotic quality of perfection without emotion. They will probably to be the world’s best proofreaders and I’m betting they will be an ideal solution for composing business letters, many kinds of documentation, and lots of advertising.

What you won’t ever see is something new and different. Not in books or in advertising. It will all sound the same. If you ask me, many books already sound the same. There were originals and now there are dozens and dozens of copies.

The irony in this is that publishing houses don’t and won’t care. They don’t want originality or fresh ideas. When a book is successful, they want its author to keep rewriting the same book, changing small bits of plot, but otherwise doing nothing different. Since publishing houses have given up supporting authors and editors don’t read manuscripts, AIs are already the frontline for big publishing houses. Getting a book contract today is all about finding the right approach to getting past the AI who “reads” your proposal. If you don’t include the right buzzwords, no human will see your manuscript.

The helix

Back in the glory days of American literature, there was a “Max Perkins” or someone like him who actually read manuscripts. Who could spot a potential great author who needed help but who would ultimately be something special. Editors like Perkins were the people who helped Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe and so many others become iconic American authors.

Those editors are almost entirely gone. A few small book publishers and magazines still read manuscripts, but rarely will anyone accept a manuscript that isn’t from an agent. Getting an agent is no easy matter. They are every bit as picky as publishers and as automated.

On the whole, there’s more creativity and originality on most blogs than in most “new” literature. As older established authors retire or simply write less, there will be little “new” material showing up in the book world. Everything will sound like something you’ve already read because it will actually be either an AI reboot of something previously published or an author repeating his last successful book forever because that’s what his publisher demands.

At least in blogs, no one demands you write each post just like the last one. The freedom we have as bloggers is a unique gift.

When publishing won’t provide editors, publicity, book tours, or will support new authors, there’s not much hope for the emergence of great literature.

Categories: #FPQ, #News, #Photography, #Writing, Provocative Questions, Technology

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12 replies

  1. You’re spot on Marilyn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, that’s sad that writers are (knowingly or unknowingly) submitting their work to AI to “read” rather than actually the old-fashioned editor or even an agent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I submitted my manuscript at least 50 times — and NO ONE read it. I didn’t have the right description and buzzwords. Bad enough to be rejected because no one likes your writing, but to be rejected because the AI doesn’t find the right words? That’s even worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are spot on!
    And I have to say I tend to agree!
    Most tv shows, and most books, are very similar!
    Its sad really that there is no originality!

    Liked by 1 person

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