I know that computers have been writing articles for several years. I read all about it when it first started happening. I’ve heard of them producing sports stories and reports on earthquakes. A program can put together facts and words to form sentences. But create fiction or poetry? Can robots write artistically? Can they create the sentences that move me? It can’t be.
The New York Times published a quiz today that shows it’s much harder than I thought to tell whether something has been constructed by a human or a program. Try it out. I did a terrible job at guessing. I thought I had a trick to figure it out. I thought that my college education based largely on analyzing texts would get me a high score, but alas, I failed.
As a writer, I put a lot of stock in the skill that writing takes. If computers can write journalism pieces, novels and poems, what is left for humans to do? Can computers make art? (There are robots that can actually make spontaneous art as well). And art can be made from a program, what is the purpose of human inspirations. Are we all just computers? This might seem like overreacting, but these are the things that came to my mind when I failed the New York Times test so badly.
It certainly isn’t the end of the world that some writing can be done by a computer (as my headline implies). You could even argue that having computers writing some of the more mundane stories lets journalists focus on researching and writing deeper pieces. There are also some interesting questions that come with computer generated stories, though. I must say it’s a little eerie, too. What do you think?