Could A.I. write a novel like Hemingway?

Artificial Intelligence has come a long way in a short time. So at what point will it be able to emulate the great artists and writers of our time?

Salman Rushdie: You know, I never say never. I mean I remember... I mean I’m sort of an amateur chess player—that’s what I’m interested in: chess, and I remember back in the day when computers were first being taught to play chess that people said that they would never be able to beat the real great, the grandmasters and the world champions. And for a long time that was true—that the world champion players and the great grandmasters were able to overcome the computer. 

Uh, not true anymore. It’s not true anymore. Computers are certainly as good if not better as any human player. As computer memory and sophistication has increased, it has outstripped human memory and sophistication. 

So I don’t know, it seems to me the thing that makes a writer a good writer is not just the technical skill with language, not even being able to find and tell a good story, it seems to me that first of all there’s a relationship with language that the best writers have, which is very much their relationship. 

If we read to Hemingway we would know it’s Hemingway because he has a particular relationship with the language; if we read James Joyce or William Faulkner we know it’s them, and if we read Garcia Marquez same thing. 

So that’s the first thing, is when I’m looking at work I’m trying to see what is the relationship with language.

And the second things are how you see the world—like do you have a good ear? Are you good at listening to how people really speak? Do you have a good eye? Are you good at seeing the world in an interesting way? 

And then finally the greatest writers, the best writers have a vision of the world that is personal to themselves, they have a kind of take on reality which is theirs and out of which their whole sensibility proceeds. 

Now to have all of that in the form of artificial intelligence—I don’t think we’re anywhere near that yet. 

But what is true I think is there’s beginning to be some sense of AI as developing a moral stance, developing an ability to make good and evil choices, right and wrong choices, and that’s a step on the way towards being what one would call human. 

So I’m not saying never, I’m just saying I don’t see that we’re there yet.

Author and public intellectual Salman Rushdie knows his way around a good word or two. It's made him one of the most celebrated and widely-read authors of the last 50 years. But he has an open mind that one day a machine might be able to emulate him. He remembers an era not too long ago where people were deriding computer chess programs, saying that they would never beat grandmaster human players. It only took a couple of decades until those that chided the chess AI had to eat crow, Salman posits, so why should writing be any different? Salman Rushdie's latest book is The Golden House.

This massive project management training bundle is your ticket to a 6-figure career

Discover how project management pros cut costs and boost efficiency in any operation.

Gear
  • The Complete Project and Quality Management Certification Bundle examines the most popular project management methodologies.
  • Courses offer full examinations of Agile, Scrum, PMP, Six Sigma and more.
  • The 8-course, 114-hour package is on sale for just $29.99.
Keep reading

The mystery of how birds navigate is over, and the answer is so amazing

It’s the first time magnetoreception has been discovered in animals, researchers claim.

Migrating geese. Credit: Getty Images.
Surprising Science

One of the longest running mysteries is exactly how birds navigate when they fly south for the winter or back come spring. For forty years, scientists have known that birds can somehow sense the magnetic field and navigate by it. But they’ve been unable to figure out how, until now. Two teams have recently identified that birds can actually visualize the magnetosphere.

Keep reading

The evidence for evidence-based therapy is not as clear as we thought

Scientists often find that they cannot replicate prior findings.

CLEMENS BILAN/DDP/AFP via Getty Images
Mind & Brain

Over the past decade, many scholars have questioned the credibility of research across a variety of scientific fields.

Keep reading