Discovery News reports that there’s a computer program that writes its own fiction, which might scare a few writers.
The program, called MEXICA, is the first to generate original stories based on computerized representations of emotions and tensions between characters.
Rafael Pérez y Pérez, MEXICA’s creator, explains, “The program keeps a record of the emotional links between characters while developing a story, and employs its knowledge about emotions to retrieve from memory possible logical actions to continue the story.”
An Internet survey was done to allow readers to vote on which stories they liked without knowing the source, and MEXICA’s stories ranked highest for “flow and coherence, structure, content, suspense and overall quality.”
Fiction writers, and bloggers, might want to take note and pay close attention. Your competition might be a machine.
I wish I was kidding.
Computers Replace Bloggers
The issue of whether or not we will be praising computer-generated fiction in the future is one debate. The other is whether or not computers will become bloggers.
Already our blog content is illegally copied and spread out across the web through feed scrapers, letting our hard work be used by lazy bloggers as a replacement for their content. Computers generating content isn’t about splogs stealing our content. It’s about computers become the source of content.
And our competition.
In the future, I have no doubt that computers will be able to scan the web looking for news stories. They will have the ability to analyze trends, and even predict them. They can already quickly cull information and references from various sources and generate fairly accurate summaries and lists, so what would be so hard to add a few words and turn those into paragraphs?
I’d like to believe that human-generated content will win out over computer-generated content, but something bigger is at work here in the blogging industry.
Too many bloggers are lazy, blogging with the “echo chamber method”, regurgitating content with blockquotes, link lists, and fast references. There is so little original content on the web today with all of the copying-copied-stories blogging – unique computer-generated and original looking blog content would be easy to appreciate. A sophisticated program could check with other members of it’s blog-content-generating tribe to see if they are blogging about the same thing, and change the content accordingly to make theirs sound distinctive and “original” from the rest.
Should Computer-Generated Blog Content Be Labeled?
About 15 years ago, there was a huge debate over “wild and free” and “captive” wildlife photography in the publishing industry. Should “captive” animal images be labeled as such so the public knows that this is a “set up” shot and the animal is not in its truly native environment? Or should “wild and free” photographs be labeled so readers know that the photographer went out into the dangerous wilderness to find the animal and photograph it there?
People argued that “wild and free” photographers were actually hurting the wildlife by infringing upon their “wildness”. Others argued “reader beware”, warning the public that these images weren’t really of truly wild photographic subjects. Many believed that set up shots were bad and that “wild is better” as the animal is free from human harm. No animal on this planet is free from human harm, so you see the silliness of a lot of these arguments. The demand for labeling images led to the industry standard today for wildlife magazines and books to label and identify how and where these images were taken, covering both sides of the debate.
Should blogs be labeled “computer-generated content” or “human-generated content”? What about splogs? Should they be forced to wear a label that says “not original content” or “feed scraped content”? How could they be labeled without also giving them permission and encouraging content theft?
What if only a part of a blog’s content is computer-generated and the rest human-generated? Should the label be on individual posts or on the blog overall as “40% human-generated content”, like food labels? Wow. Think about it. Our blog labels could soon look like can food labels!
This is our future, fellow bloggers. I wish I was kidding. Humans are always trying to find the lazy way of doing things, and computer-generated blog content is a really easy way to blog. It might take all the fun out of it, but it’s coming to a blog near you soon.
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.