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Top Ten AI Hype 2: AI Can Write Novels and Screenplays Better than the Pros!

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Scene clapperboard in front of two actors

AI help, not hype, with Robert J. Marks: Software can automatically generate word sequences based on material fed in from existing scripts:

In 2016, Ars Technica was proud to be sponsoring “the first AI-written sci-fi script:

As explained in The Guardian, a recurrent neural network “was fed the scripts of dozens of science fiction movies including such classics as Highlander Endgame, Ghostbusters, Interstellar and The Fifth Element.” Sunspring, the title of the AI written play, was computed after the trained neural network was given a “set of prompts.” A Guardian writer terms the resulting script “gibberish.” Here’s a description from sponsor Ars Technica:

Ars is excited to be hosting this online debut of Sunspring, a short science fiction film that’s not entirely what it seems. It’s about three people living in a weird future, possibly on a space station, probably in a love triangle. You know it’s the future because H (played with neurotic gravity by Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch) is wearing a shiny gold jacket, H2 (Elisabeth Gray) is playing with computers, and C (Humphrey Ker) announces that he has to “go to the skull” before sticking his face into a bunch of green lights. It sounds like your typical sci-fi B-movie, complete with an incoherent plot. Except Sunspring isn’t the product of Hollywood hacks—it was written entirely by an AI. To be specific, it was authored by a recurrent neural network called long short-term memory, or LSTM for short. At least, that’s what we’d call it. The AI named itself Benjamin. AnnaLee Newitz, “Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense” at Ars Technica

Marks: It is “hilarious” if watching traffic cracks you up and “intense” if Barney the Dinosaur keeps you on the edge of your seat. The enjoyment comes from watching an actor interpret and convey emotions even when the dialog is meaningless.

It turns out that meaning matters. So. fiction and song writers, please do keep writing. Don’t leave us with just this stuff in 2019.

Note: There are web sites that compose close to normal technical prose using an expert system type approach. The most popular is SCIgen,
an automatic computer science paper generator. If you are interested, check it out. More.

See also: 2018 AI Hype Countdown 3: With Mind-Reading AI, You Will Never Have Secrets Again! AI help, not hype: Did you read about the flap they had to cut out of a volunteer’s skull? With so many new developments in AI, the real story is usually far down in the fine print. And not a close match with the headlines.

2018 AI Hype Countdown 4: Making AI Look More Human Makes It More Human-like! AI help, not hype: Technicians can do a lot these days with automated lip-syncs and smiles but what’s behind them? This summer, some were simply agog over “Sophia, the First Robot Citizen” (“unsettling as it is awe-inspiring”)…

2018 AI Hype Countdown 4: Making AI Look More Human Makes It More Human-like! AI help, not hype: Technicians can do a lot these days with automated lip-syncs and smiles but what’s behind them? This summer, some were simply agog over “Sophia, the First Robot Citizen” (“unsettling as it is awe-inspiring”)…

2018 AI Hype Countdown 5: AI Can Fight Hate Speech! AI help, not hype: AI can carry out its programmers’ biases and that’s all. Putting these kinds of decisions in the hands of software programs is not likely to promote vigorous and healthy debate.

2018 AI Hype Countdown 6: AI Can Even Find Loopholes in the Code! AI help, not hype: AI adopts a solution in an allowed set, maybe not the one you expected.

2018 AI Hype Countdown 7: Computers can develop creative solutions on their own! AI help, not hype: Programmers may be surprised by which solution, from a range they built in, comes out on top Sometimes the results are unexpected and even surprising. But they follow directly from the program doing exactly what the programmer programmed it to do. It’s all program, no creativity.

2018 AI Hype Countdown 8: AI Just Needs a Bigger Truck! AI help, not hype: Can we create superintelligent computers just by adding more computing power? Some think computers could greatly exceed human intelligence if only we added more computing power. That reminds me of an old story…

2018 AI Hype Countdown 9: Will That Army Robot Squid Ever Be “Self-Aware”? The thrill of fear invites the reader to accept a metaphorical claim as a literal fact.

2018 AI Hype Countdown: 10. Is AI really becoming “human-like”?: AI help, not hype: Here’s #10 of our Top Ten AI hypes, flops, and spins of 2018 A headline from the UK Telegraph reads “DeepMind’s AlphaZero now showing human-like intuition in historical ‘turning point’ for AI” Don’t worry if you missed it.

One Reply to “Top Ten AI Hype 2: AI Can Write Novels and Screenplays Better than the Pros!

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    For those of you who are not writers of fiction, “authoring tools” are hot stuff. And the most complete “assistant” is called “Dramatica”. Dramatica is based on the Theory of Storytelling that flows from “The Hero’s Journey”, a watershed event in objectively listing what MUST happen in a Story. (Things which don’t pass the tests for Stories are “Tales”. There is of course a big market for Tales.)

    So for more than a decade there have been software packages that tell the writer what MUST happen in The 3 Journeys (the hero MUST fail TWICE, before succeeding on the 3rd attempt), and the sub-parts thereof.

    The writer is of course free to juggle the order in which the required scenes are presented (e.g., the story can open with Hero standing over the slain dragon), but all of the scenes MUST appear.

    Etc., etc.

    But the writer still gets a blank canvas, and still has to answer the Reader’s hardest question: Why do I CARE about the characters and the plot?

    Oh, I read decades ago that Romance Novels are so numbingly consistent that a “writer’s meeting” for a new book involves a couple bottles of wine and the selection of NAMES for the stock characters this go-round. So I would think that any decent piece of AI could do THAT, even without the wine.

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