Saturday, July 12, 2014

Transformers:The Rise of the Writer Robots

Dear Readers 

I bring to you this alarming bulletin immediately after stumbling upon the disturbing news that I am actually, a computer program.

sepiatone robot picture writer transformer automation artificial intelligence AI cognitive computing technology science controversy

Hold on! Wait! Wait just a second…I’m getting a new update…

After further experimentation, which involved slapping myself in the face (which hurt) and a swift sharp kick in the crotch (delivered by my girl friend ,which hurt even more; not because of her betrayal but more by the action itself) it is safe to conclude that, I, am real. 

Not so fast Geppetto, whether I’m a real boy or a girl shall be determined after doctors examine my crushed genitals; although most of my friends will have already diagnosed me as a girl.
Much to my displeasure however, that controversy shall remain unsolved.

Today’s controversy shall be….

Robot writers Aye or Nein?

Call me superficial, a dumbass or whatever you want to, but what actually drove me to write on this topic is that, one, of these automated writing programs and I have something in common. Our name.

I know, I know, besides actually meaning that one is apt at writing, it is indeed a popular pseudo name. But whether you like it or not that’s what caught my attention and that’s what led me to delve into the world of automated writing.

Now for a bit of Fun, Factual & tangential trivia. 

This is a 240 year-old automaton writer, which essentially is a predecessor of the modern robot and possibly even the computer. 

Being one out of the three infamous automata designed by the Jaquet --Droz family, it can write cursive that buries my own. 
Even though that isn’t saying much, No-one can deny that this is an astounding piece of machinery.
 But even saying that does not justify what it is; a true work of art, a masterpiece. 

Fast forward to the future, where robot writers of today are already out there; analyzing data, crunching algorithms, literally dotting the “I”s and crossing the “T”s, and actually publishing books and writing articles.  Associated Press, Forbes, LA Times, ProPublica, Yahoo! are some of the companies who already have robot writers. 

Transformer pen writer robot automation artificial intelligence AI cognitive computing technology science controversy

Here begins the controversy. 

Most authors, poets and journalists are appalled by the implication that their literature, unto which their blood, sweat and tears have been poured, can be replaced by the formulated text pumped out of cold, hard soulless machines.  

However the opposition argues that almost all writing has some form of formula or algorithm behind it, which can be replicated by computer programs to produce equally similar pieces. Robot writers acutally back this up providing narratives that are surprisingly competent and are reasonably indistinguishable from that of a human writer, and perhaps even better.   

I say this only in the context of article writing that involves a lot of statistics and numerical data. Given the correct algorithm a computer can analyze large chunks of data to obtain, patterns, anomalies, key data and predict future trends much more efficiently and accurately than a human. This coupled with the recent ability to convert this data into easily comprehensible narratives the robot writer gets an edge over its human counterpart.

Along with my namesake program there are several other programs that offer this service, The Quill (article writing for businesses) and Quakebot (which reports about seismic activity straight from the U.S. Geological Survey and writes articles about it)are two examples. 

So the question remains, can robot writers actually replace human writers? 

Sepiatone photograph of a Robot Typist Vs. a Human Typist writer transformer automation artificial intelligence AI cognitive computing technology science controversy

In the future, perhaps.

The simple fact of the matter is that however complex a computer is “WE” are far more complex. 
Of course a computer is more neutral, factual and logical but it is 
that emotional touch
that empathy 
that individualistic perspective that is labeled as bias 
that makes a piece of writing special and unique,both to read and to write.
The solution or rather conclusion is simple.Coexistence. 

Let the robot writers handle the boring factual and statistical articles (still under human supervision) & leave opinionated, artistic and idealistic literature to the human writers. 

But before you go I pose to you a question …. 

Can you differentiate the writing of a computer from that of a human? It is surprisingly hard to draw a distinction. Don’t believe me? Take this quiz and see for yourself.

Not to Brag but I got 10 out of 10. Try and beat that Bitc..Readers! Readers!

Peace out and as the young Swaggies say “TU tantum Vivere Quodam”                

No comments:

Post a Comment