CAN ROBOTS WRITE GREAT BOOKS | The Progress of Artificial Intelligence

Hello book lovers, 

My name is Alin and welcome to my channel. Today I am going to talk about artificial intelligence and writing books. Can robots write great books? That is the question. So let’s get started.

  • We know one thing for sure, robots can generate all sorts of texts. Because we are just at the beginning of this experimentation with machine-generated texts, I think it’s just a matter of time until we have our first professional robot-writer.
  • Before anything else, let’s start by looking at the progress of robots producing small creative texts. 

Robots Writing Tinder Bios

  • Two years ago, an American company, GetCenturyLink, developed a robot able to generate Tinder bios. The first step was to collect 500 Tinder bios and analyze what type of information men and women are sharing on their profiles. After examining their profile descriptions, the machine came up with these bios:
  • Lady Bio: ’I look great with makeup. Me naps, no travel. Cheese sandwiches wanna kiss ‘em. I love going reading, movies, pants, seriously. Baby probably your next ex gf.’
  • Gent Bio: ‘Brooklyn native. Institute ready vegetarian. Entrepreneur. Guitarist. Boxer. Chef. Barber. Attorney. Lifestyle looking up! But guaranteed to fall. Love a rebound.’

Maybe these bios would get some matches but definitely would not get a date. So the robot wasn’t able to satisfy my need.

 

Robots Writing the News

  • To make a step further, let’s see what happens in a different area, in the news industry. There are some news outlets which started to use robots to create news pieces, but these machines are used to create small pieces of content or to help with drafts for journalists. 
  • The Washington Post’s robot reporter called Heliograf created around 800 articles in 2016 and it is doing a pretty good job. For example, the game between Wilson and Yorktown in July 2017 was summarized by Heliograf this way:
    ‘The Yorktown Patriots triumphed over the visiting Wilson Tigers in a close game on Thursday, 20-14. The game began with a scoreless first quarter. In the second quarter, The Patriots’ Paul Dalzell was the first to put points on the board with a two-yard touchdown reception off a pass from quarterback William Porter.’
  • That’s just a quote from the report, you can read the entire post online, I added the link in the description. I think is a great achievement because if you read the entire report, you’ll discover the writing is not that bad, even if it’s a bit bland. 

Robots Writing Books

A Robot Wrote a Harry Potter Chapter

      • A few years ago Botnick Studios used a robot to study all seven Harry Potter books and the result was a bot-generated chapter for the book series.
        ‘Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Look Liked A Large Pile of Ash’:
      • Let’s read a bit from this small chapter entitled ‘Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Look Liked A Large Pile of Ash’:
        “The castle grounds snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind. The sky outside was a great black ceiling which was full of blood. The only sounds drifting from Hagrid’s hut were the disdainful shrieks of his own furniture. Magic: it was something that Harry Potter thought was very good.
        Leathery sheets of rain lashed at Harry’s ghost as he walked across the grounds toward the castle. Ron was standing there and doing a kind of frenzied tap dance. 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.
      • “What about Ron magic?” offered Ron. To Harry, Ron was a loud, slow, and soft bird. Harry did not like to think about birds.
        “Death Eaters are on the top of the castle!” Ron bleated, quivering. Ron was going to be spiders. He just was. He wasn’t proud of that, but it was going to be hard not to have spiders all over his body after all is said and done.”
      • As you can imagine by now, this chapter won’t be included in a new Harry Potter book, but it’s pretty fun to read. 

Robots Writing 1984 and Pride and Prejudice

      • Last year, Open AI,  a lab supported by Elon Musk and others, declared they have built a robot called GPT2 capable of generating news stories and fiction but they didn’t release it because they believe it might be used for disinformation 
      • Alex Hern from The Guardian made some experiments with GPT2 to generate some paragraphs to complete the opening sentences of some famous books. When he used the opening sentence from ‘1984’ by George Orwell, the robot came up with the following paragraph:
        ‘’It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen’ was followed by ‘I was in my car on my way to a new job in Seattle. I put the gas in, put the key in, and then I let it run. I just imagined what the day would be like. A hundred years from now. In 2045, I was a teacher in some school in a poor part of rural China. I started with Chinese history and the history of science.’’
      • As you can see, the robot is not able to construct logical sentences, and the way the paragraph is written seems ordinary, nothing really special. So I wouldn’t be afraid of someone imitating George Orwell in the near future.
      • I think a better job is done by the robot with the opening sentence from Pride and Prejudice:
        “It is a truth universally acknowledged” and the machine continued: “that when a nation is in a condition of civilization, that it is in a great measure the business of its leaders to encourage the habits of virtue, and of industry, and of good order among its people.”
      • But even here, I don’t think the machine came up with something mind-blowing because this type of speech we can hear it even today promoted by all sorts of people in the corporate and business world, this language is not specific only to the Victorian period.
      • Can robots write great books? By looking at these machine-generated texts, I came to the conclusion that robots are not able to interpret texts as humans do, they don’t have the capacity to understand context, sarcasm, or irony. 
      • But the advantage of a robot over a human is that the robot can store more information than a human brain can do and this will have an impact on machine-generated texts. At the present moment, these robots can write news stories, jokes, poems and synthesize texts and I believe in the future, maybe in 30 or 40 years, will be able to write books, even great books.
      • The only thing I am afraid of is disinformation and creating fakes. If machines will be able to imitate other people’s writing style, I think we will deal with an increased number of posthumous books by famous authors’ generated by machines. I think that will be the moment when the level of global manipulation will reach its highest peaks. So good luck with that!

Next time I will talk about a very short book by Alain Badiou titled ‘Trump’, so don’t forget to hit that like button, add a comment and subscribe to my channel to see new videos every week.

 

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