Yesterday, I asked my computer to write a story3 min de lecture
Here’s the last thing I’ve read: a story written by AI.
The technology is by research company OpenAI, founded by no other than Elon Musk and Sam Altman. GPT-2, as the program is called, was deemed too dangerous and only part of it was published. With the « lite » version of this program, a Canadian developer created this website: https://talktotransformer.com/. It is quite surprising: you write the beginning of the text and it gives you what follows.
So it made me ask myself: should machines write stories?
The talktotransformer website is impressive but it lacks one obvious thing: human intelligence.
Yes, the grammar is « correct ». Sometimes the story seems a bit weird, but it makes sense.
And people may start to say: « Here it is, all of our jobs, even creative ones, are going to be replaced by machines ». I do believe that machines will be able to do a lot of things, even write books or generate paintings. But they can’t – and never will be able – to create. Because if there is something that only humans can do it is to feel and therefore to create.
The human mind with its tortured thoughts and its unique ways of apprehending the world cannot be replaced. If when reading some lines of Shakespeare or Wilde, you feel something in your guts… if when admiring a painting of Monet or Turner, there is something happening in your heart… if when listening to Chopin or Debussy, you feel overwhelmed… it is only because you are human.
Furthermore, AI needs humans to exist and develop: if AI can « write », it is because it has read many books… written by humans.
It’s true, machines are more and more present in our everyday life.
The numbers are impressive. More than 1.4 billions smartphones have been sold in 2018*. That means almost 20% of the population – 1 in 5 people – have bought a phone. If that doesn’t tell us that machines are ubiquitous, I don’t know what does.
There are more and more talks about IoT (Internet of Things): by the end of 2018, more than 52 million Google Home devices were sold in the US**. Last year, there has been an increase of 61% in smartwatch sales in the US alone***.
If machines are a big help and changed our life – for better and worse, I believe – I am convinced we should draw the line. We shouldn’t lose sight of what it is to be human. All we’re seeing today about how technology is changing our life is both positive and negative: the progress in science and especially medicine is incredible – people that can walk again, see again, move again. However, if smartphones and social media are making our life easier and helping us connect with people all over the world, they are also making us more and more addicted and lonely. New diseases are appearing because of this technological progress. Some people are losing touch of their feelings, because they are numbed: by drugs, by games, by social media or their fictional life…
And that’s my point: being human is essential for creating, for art. Because we create with our guts. Otherwise, it’s just good technique, not art.
That’s why, in my opinion, machines shouldn’t write books: because they won’t be good books. They won’t make us feel like real writers do.
That is also why I profoundly believe that the day when machines will be able to create books has not yet come – and will never come. Unless we find out the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything – and we realize it’s not 42.
* according to IDC (International Data Corporation)