The Terminator is a wordsmith

Sweetheart, give me rewrite … and an oil change.

Ho boy. There goes the neighborhood. The Poindexters are building the next Billy Shakespeare out of 1s and 0s.

In this piece for The New Yorker, John Seabrook wonders:

Could the machine learn to write well enough for The New Yorker? Could it write this article for me? The fate of civilization may not hang on the answer to that question, but mine might.

Sigh. Remember the good old days, when automatic writing was limited to the spirits or subconscious? I have a feeling this new breed of writer will rely on a different solvent than did its human predecessors.

“Gimme a benzene. Make it a double. I’m stalled on this goddamn novel.”

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8 Responses to “The Terminator is a wordsmith”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    The truth takes another of a thousand cuts.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The bots won’t be satisfied with writing. They’ll want to be editors, publishers, and directors. They’ll keep the meat-based writers in filthy cages, give them Chromebooks for composition and buckets for toilets, and feed them on Soylent Green made from freelancers.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Careful there buddy. That shit will keep you up at night! Damn near prophetic is what.

        From Wikipedia

        Soylent Green is a 1973 American dystopian thriller film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Charlton Heston and Leigh Taylor-Young. Edward G. Robinson appears in his final film. Loosely based on the 1966 science fiction novel Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison, it combines both police procedural and science fiction genres; the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman and a dystopian future of dying oceans and year-round humidity due to the greenhouse effect, resulting in suffering from pollution, poverty, overpopulation, euthanasia and depleted resources.[2]

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I remember Edward G.’s final performance fondly, Paddy me boyo. It reminds me of our late, lamented neighbor Marv. Here are a few clips of Sol, the Last Librarian.

  2. Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

    Who is gonna read computer generated crap like that? The Prof is fighting Amazon’s robots trying to get a book published. Their automated system detects quotes from her other works, but none of ’em seem to understand that SHE wrote the gawddamn books so she owns the rights to them and doesn’t need any permission to quote/plagiarize herself!!!
    These have to be robots, no actual humans could be this stupid…could they?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      For rank stupidity it’s hard to top the average human, Larry. But the bots may get there eventually.

      And actually, bots have been used in some writing gigs, like stats-heavy AP baseball and business coverage. From The Guardian:

      Have readers noticed? Last year, a Swedish media professor, Christer Clerwall, conducted the first proper blind study into how sports reports written by computers and by humans compared. Readers taking part in the study suggested, on the whole, that the reports written by human sports journalists were slightly more accessible and enjoyable, but that those written by computer seemed a little more informative and trustworthy.

      “Perhaps the most interesting result in the study is that there are [almost] no… significant differences in how the two texts are perceived,” Clerwall concluded. “An optimistic view would be that automated content will… allow reporters to focus on more qualified assignments, leaving the descriptive ‘recaps’ to the software.”

  3. Opus the Poet Says:

    My Shadowrun group has been discussing a Batman TAS script that was written by a bot and released online as a fanfic. FYI fanfic is the minor leagues of fiction writing, playing in another writer’s sandbox to get the fundamentals of dialog and plotting down without the added workload of character creation and world building.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Dialog. Oy. I don’t know how anyone manages it, even a bot. Every time someone tells me I should write The Great American Novel® I shudder. It’s all I can manage to crank out a blog post now and again.

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