Peering Into the Future of Novels, With the Help of AI

In his new novel Death of an Author, author Aidan Marchine describes a subpar nacho plate:

“The cheese was curdled, the chips were soggy and smeared with a greasy film, like some kind of lake dregs. Gus took a forced bite, but the taste was rancid and addictive.” He washed it down with beer, but even it tasted ugly, like it had been left in the sun for too long.

The writing is vivid, but nothing special. But Aidan Marchine is an unusual author (at least for now) because he is a set of computer systems. a little.

Journalist and author Stephen Marche wrote “Death of an Author” using three artificial intelligence programs. Or three artificial intelligence programs Stephen wrote it with extensive plots and prompts from his marche. It depends on how you look at it.

“I am the creator of this piece, 100%,” said Marché. “But on the other hand, I wasn’t the one who created the word.”

Audio production company Pushkin Industries plans to publish the novella as an audiobook and e-book next month. The name “Marcine” is also the invention of a program that combines marché and machines.

In January, Pushkin CEO Jakob Weisberg reached out to Marke, who has been working with and writing about artificial intelligence since 2017. The result of that collaboration is ‘Death of Author’, where the author who used AI extensively dies.

Who? Was it the estranged daughter? Was it a crime and cyber fiction professor who was the expert at her job, or was it an eccentric billionaire who collaborated with her on her secret AI project?

Marche used three programs, starting with ChatGPT, to get the story out of his laptop. He ran a plot synopsis through the software, along with numerous prompts and notes. The AI ​​is good at many things, especially conversation, but the plot was terrible, he said.

Then, using Sudowrite, he asked the program to lengthen or shorten sentences, adopt a more conversational tone, or make sentences more like Ernest Hemingway. He then used his Cohere to create what he called the best lines in the book. If you wanted to describe the aroma of coffee, he trained the program on examples and asked it to generate simile until you found one you liked.

“For me, the process was a little like hip-hop,” he said. “If you’re making hip-hop, you don’t necessarily know how to do the drums, but you definitely have to know how the beat works, how the hook works, and the meaning. We need to be able to combine them in a way that is sensible.”

Marke said these programs could be tools for writers, declaring himself optimistic about the growth of algorithmic writing in his field. But the prospect makes many writers and their agents so uneasy that he fears machines will put writers out of their the author’s guild I was asked “Legal and policy interventions to balance the development of useful AI tools with the protection of human copyright”.

Weisberg, Pushkin’s chief executive, said new tools very often drive people away, but they also create opportunities. Take journalism for example.

“If your everyday news stories are drafted or generated by technology, as a journalist you can write interesting news stories about AI instead of reporting every fire,” he said.

Marche and Pushkin used software to try to create as much of “Death of an Author” as possible, including the blurb and its cover art. But there is one area where the creator felt the technology was lacking. It’s an audiobook narration. So they hired Edoardo Ballerini, a human who has won several awards in this field.

“But this is moving very quickly,” said Weisberg. “I think if we had done it now instead of six weeks ago, we would have had the AI ​​narration.”

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