A storm is coming
I’ve always been captivated by technology. While some people find it intimidating, it’s like a thrilling adventure for me. These days, artificial intelligence (AI), is making loads of headlines. Just like a mythical creature from long ago, AI is shrouded in mystery, fascination, and a lot of misunderstandings. The fact is, the storm is coming in fast. Do you know what changes it will bring?
The Next Big Thing
About six months ago, a Sisters in Crime webinar caught my attention. In the webinar, one of the topics was AI. The attendees were all talking about AI as The Next Big Thing. I was intrigued. While some were freaked out and ready to run for the hills, I wanted to check it out. What I discovered is that AI has been around for a while. Its roots can be traced back to the 1950s, with the development of the first programs that could play checkers and solve word problems. Fast forward about 70 years and almost everyone has a cell phone and is familiar with Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa. Who knew that we’ve all been carrying around a form of AI for all these years?
As I dove into what an AI can actually do, I was confronted with several “facts of life.” The biggest was that an AI cannot write a novel all on its own. Left to its own devices, the little bugger tends to veer off-topic, become extremely repetitive, and lack depth. I recently read a blog post that repeated the same phrases and points numerous times. It became almost painful to read. If the author is human, he’s one of the most monotonously repetitive writers on the planet. Otherwise, it’s a good example of why, at least for now, you can’t just let the AI out to play.
One of the other myths had to do with diversity and reducing bias in writing. You might expect that since an AI is a computer, it’s automatically unbiased. Not true. Why? Because humans trained the computer. To be trained, an AI must read millions of documents from the Internet. Need I say more?
Readers reap the rewards
What I quickly realized is that AI is a golden opportunity for readers. It can help writers brainstorm better plots. Create more diverse characters. And even do something like find an ingenious way to commit the perfect murder. In my opinion, all of this translates into higher quality writing and a better experience for readers.
While researching this post, I learned that AI assistants who can personalize your reading experience aren’t that far off. As a reader, I find this an amazing opportunity. Rather than using general search terms and having to sift through dozens of sponsored ads for a book that meets my criteria, I might be able to ask for “a list of five cozy mystery novels that have good reviews, are set in a small American town, and have a likable, female protagonist.”
I wondered if my AI was up to the task, so I tried it. Want to see the results? You’ll have to solve the jigsaw puzzle below to see what books were recommended. What I will tell you is that the titles are fairly well-known. You’ll also notice that the puzzle only contains four titles. That’s because my AI made a mistake and mixed up the title and author on one. (Another example of why writers should never just let these little buggers loose!) The good news is, like Siri, an AI is always polite. He said, “Apologies for the confusion. It seems there was an error in my previous message.”
We’re moving rapidly into an amazing, and perhaps, frightening, new world.
Please leave a comment to let me know if you are intrigued by this new world, afraid of it, or somewhere in between. You’ll be entered into a drawing for a Kindle copy of one of my books when you comment. The contest will close on Wednesday, February 7. And, if you like jigsaw puzzles, visit my website, where I post a new puzzle each Friday.
While you’re here, check out our February contest, which runs from Feb. 1-22 This is our site’s anniversary month, so to celebrate, we’re giving away 7 first-in-series mysteries, one from each author! CLICK FOR THE CONTEST PAGE.
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Posted in Let's Talk, with Terry Ambrose • Tags: artificial intelligence, future, Let's Talk, Terry Ambrose | 44 Comments