Roland Barthes was speaking metaphorically when he suggested in 1967 that "the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the author". But as artificial intelligence takes its first steps in fiction writing, it seems technology may one day start to make Barthes' metaphor all too real.
AI is still some way off writing a coherent novel, as surreal experiments with Harry Potter show, but the future isn't so far away in Hollywood. According to Nadira Azermai, whose company ScriptBook is developing a screenwriting AI: "Within five years we'll have scripts written by AI that you would think are better than human writing."
Self-promotion aside, if there is the possibility of a decent screenplay from ScriptBook's AI within five years, then a novel composed by machines can't be far behind. But it's hard to shake the impression that, even if such novels eventually turn out to be "better than human writing," something would be lost.
Perhaps the feeling comes from an idea that would be anathema to Barthes: the idea of literature as communication.
From The Guardian (U.K.)
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