The text program on your phone has a limited form of Natural Language Generation (NLG) software included under the umbrella of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

When you type a text and to save you time, the program will “guess” at what the next word will be. The program slowly adapts to your vocabulary, your interests, your style of writing, and “learns” enough about you to slowly improve, i.e. the more you use the text function, the more accurate the program’s guesses will be. It is a learning machine, and it is learning about you.

The story goes that a group of researchers let an advanced form of the program run past a simple one-word guess to see how long the program would create text on its own. They were somewhat astonished when it created an entire paragraph of, not gibberish, but readable text that made sense.

One has to realize that NLG is only in its infancy and already has vast potential. Given another 10 years, NLG could be writing complete novels, plays, speeches, and essays, and “slanted” any way the programmer would suggest. Already entire commercials have been written completely by NLG. In time, what is manmade and what is artificial will be indistinguishable. Consider computer generated graphics commonly used now in gaming and movies. Remember it started out as pac-man in 1980 and didn’t resemble in the slightest anything realistic. Each generation of computer graphics gets more and more lifelike. Many scenes in movies with real actors are completely computer-generated and they fit more or less seamlessly into the story line.

Eventually, when computer-generated graphics and artificial voice synthesizers combine with natural language generation, there will be no need for actors or writers. AI will do it all, and it is likely to be surprisingly good.

Some say that NLG and related AI will never be able to copy the emotional aspect of human speech and writing, and so it will always be somewhat “flat” and uninspiring. This is simply wrong. Emotional content in writing is created using specific words and phrases appropriate for certain emotional circumstances. There is no reason to believe a computer program utilizing advanced AI couldn’t accurately reproduce that as well. AI may not “feel” the emotion in a personal way since it is a machine but it could copy it well enough to be entirely believable. After all that’s what human actors do all the time. Just like automation in manufacturing, machine intelligence is destined to replace humans in the creative fields. AI can do it hundreds, if not thousands, of times faster and virtually error free. Maybe the fact that AI will become “too perfect” is the only thing distinguishing it from true human creations. But then the capacity for occasional errors could be programmed into AI as well, making it more human-like.

Most people will disregard this as science fiction, but it is the new emerging reality. Careful consideration should be done now as to possible consequences of emerging AI in control of every aspect of the human experience including creativity.

A life-long resident of northern Minnesota, Terry Mejdrich is a former math teacher and farmer turned mystery author and freelance writer.

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