Shakespeare or Artificial Intelligence – Who will hold sway over writing?

The appeal of stories will never fade. Tales of magical lands, enchanted jungles and animal kingdoms have captivated our interest since childhood. Writers, authors and bards with amazing storytelling/composing capability have always held a prestigious place in the society, earning respect for their talent. Creativity of this sort requires a strong understanding of the human mind and psychology, of emotions and sentiments.

In other words, these are traits that machines cannot be expected to exhibit. Now, amid all the talk related to artificial intelligence (AI) doing rounds, when fear of most professions being rendered obsolete is building up gradually, it is only reasonable then to assume that writing is probably safe. Right?

(AI), which is transforming industries, replicates human brain, but is faster and more efficient. Although until now automation is more prevalent in mundane and repetitive tasks, it is becoming more sophisticated and advanced.

Computer is already writing content, especially in the research domain. Natural Language Generation (NLG) is a software that processes data and turns it into coherently worded details. Quill, an NLG platform, is being used extensively by some companies to develop regular reports and financial content. It is easy to automate such business writing as only facts need to be stated and emotions are not involved.

But what about creative content?

It seems scientists are working on a project to get technology to write prose. Researchers at IBM Research Australia, University of Melbourne and University of Toronto have created a deep learning AI bot trained on 2,600 real sonnets that reflect the rhyming pattern and pentameter of the poetic format used by Shakespeare. The purpose of this project was to train machines to produce a coherent narrative that spans multiple sentences, and poetry was a good way to start. Research is on, with results eagerly awaited.

However, computer writing lacks an important ingredient currently – empathy. Unfortunately, complex algorithms cannot feed emotions into a system. Hence, experiments to get AI to produce original, interesting content, has not been a very successful till now.

To further prove this point, let us refer to the famous Turing test, named after its creator, Alan Turing. It is being carried out by a congregation of AI scientists to determine whether machines can think and talk like humans. In the two decades that this trial has been on, the machine has been a winner only once.

Content creation is an art that requires a fair bit of imagination. Whether fact or fiction, human writing will always add flair to words as human beings write from their heart; a machine will write as per the data it has. Even if it gets the grammar, rhyming and spellings right, it will not have the originality that sets apart a work of art and creates masterpieces in writing.

Researchers claim that by 2065, AI will not only become as smart as humans but may even surpass them. If this fact proves to be correct, then content creators’ jobs are safe, at least for the next few decades.