Tuesday, June 14, 2016

AI-as-a-Screenplay Writer: Computer overlords strike again?

Normally when I discuss artificial intelligence on the impact of work, it's in the context of the automation of accounting and auditing work (A3W). However, a story that's been circulating for past few days in my Google alerts is the story of the movie Sunspring. Unlike most movies it's not written by human being, but rather it is written by a computer.

Ars Technica, who hosted the online debut of the movie, noted that the script was "authored by a recurrent neural network called long short-term memory, or LSTM for short. At least, that's what we'd call it. The AI named itself Benjamin."
The movie is really odd to put it nicely. However, it does comes across as one of those art movies that (also) don't make any sense. The song in the movie is also generated by the machine.

However, this is not the first time that algorithms have been trained to be artists. Chris Steiner in his book "Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World" notes that Emmy,  an algorithm, "produced orchestral pieces so impressive that some music scholars failed to identify them as the work of a machine". In a piece he authored for the Wall Street Journal he notes "analyzing only the script, an algorithm from Epagogix, a risk-management firm that caters to the entertainment industry, predicts box office grosses. Epagogix broke into the business when a major studio allowed the firm to analyze script data for nine yet-to-be released films. In six of the nine cases, its predictions were spot-on. Algorithms have since become an essential tool in Hollywood."

If the chaotic world of creative works can be automated by algorithms, then I think the predictable, routine world of debits and credits can't be too far behind.

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