Artificial novelists

robotwrite1-760x360I just finished reading “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”, the fourth book in the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, which was made into a great trilogy of films in its native Sweden, and (IMHO) a less good film by Hollywood. 

Famously, this fourth book was not written by Larsson, who made the ill-advised career move of dying before his books became huge best-sellers. But (IMHO again) it’s damn good. For me at least, the cast of characters live on. (There is an AGI sub-plot which I think is a bit daft, but it barely distracts.)

The shift in author but the consistency of world-building got me thinking about when an AI will first produce a thriller as good as a human. AIs already produce huge numbers of sports reports and financial reports for AP and others. They’re not going to stop there.

Highly successful writers like Wilbur Smith and James Patterson churn out brilliantly readable books, and some of them have stables of ghost-writers doing the actual drafting. There is a formula to these things, and they work. Readers love ’em.

If and when an AI is first able to write a novel as well as a human, will it quickly figure out how to do it much, much better? I can see no reason why not. Thrillers may become like crack cocaine to avid readers: they’ll forget to eat because they are so engrossed in the story.

When? All forecasts are wrong, of course, and I can only offer a science-free hunch, but I reckon within ten years.

That will be another powerful sign that we are well on the way to the economic singularity I describe in “Surviving AI”.

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2 thoughts on “Artificial novelists

  1. Imagine this combined with advances in VR and digital graphics. AI could write and render incredible “choose your own adventure” stories in real time. I’m sure you would need to be hooked up to an IV or something to make sure you don’t die of thirst or hunger. It could also have the crack cocaine effect of using up all your dopamine and making normal life too boring to enjoy.

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