“Robots taking up our jobs!” “Can AI solve problems like us?” “Can AI make (real) elephants dance?”
Even before many of us could even work or interact with a robot, we are already asking ourselves these questions. As a techno-functional consultant, I have pondered over these questions and even offered my colleagues some simplistic solutions to keep our jobs. In a small TED talk like presentation which we used to organize at our workplace, I told my colleagues that consultants can survive only if we develop our creative intelligence and sustain our emotional intelligence (more like maintain our sanity and not get carried away in the throes of consulting!). However, there was this elephant in the room that I did not address then and even now am afraid to admit. There have been increasing reports of experiments conducted and hypotheses drawn about artificial intelligence becoming more creative. What!!? Can a robot actually be better at deciding which colour goes well in the slide background in a presentation? (My consulting colleagues, pardon me, for picking up the most creative input that we give 😊)
Coming back to the elephant in the room, and leaving aside consulting for a minute, what if robots could help us write better stories. As a occasional writer who very frequently suffers from writer’s block, it was an interesting scenario for me to ponder upon. For instance, I recently, came upon a report that IBM’s Watson helped two leading fashion designers with a plethora of data on designs that worked well across seasons and markets. This accelerated their creative process. If I were to think on similar lines to the process of writing a novel, what help would I need from Watson or from any AI?
One challenge that I faced when I wrote my first (and only) novel was to remember the chronology of events that happened in my characters’ lives and maintain correct references during conversations. You might attribute this to bad retention but the truth is, it does become cumbersome, especially, during editing, if you realise that one of the characters, say Paula, really shouldn’t have had the accident that you wrote about. If I were to remove that particular incident then could AI tell me at which points in my story I should make changes, not just direct references? I might have another character, maybe Ryan, who suffered trauma because of Paula’s accident, changes will apply there too. Another area where AI could help is probably character development where it helps me to build this complex, multidimensional, real world character based on numerous character profiles collected from around the world. AI can also help in research, spell-check, editing etc., but we already have tools to do this.
It will be interesting to break down the writing process of a writer and see where AI could take over, but then as any writer would tell you, every writer has a different style and a different creative process.
How much of an individuality will a writer be willing to forsake while using AI? What will writers be then valued for? Or any creative artist for that matter?
We have some very interesting times ahead, indeed!