Can AI write the perfect novel?

By Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development

In a previous blog I wrote about Microsoft’s artificially intelligent chatbot, Tay, built to mimic the language and feelings of the youth of today on Twitter.

Much like “Boaty McBoatface” winning an online poll to be the name of a new £200million research ship (sadly, it has not stuck) I found it one of those stories that reaffirms what I love about the internet age – the ability to cause mischief.

In fairness, turning Tay into a holocaust denying racist is taking things a step too far, but at its heart was an attempt to play with a new technology. In terms of a stunt it worked. Perfectly.

In recent weeks it has been said that Facebook will flood its messenger app with AI bots to answer queries. It does seem to be the way technology is moving.

Which is why I was delighted to stumble across this piece in the Mirror last week, which details Google’s attempts to create its own artificially intelligent novelist. Questionably, it chose to launch in the erotic novel market.

All this leads to passages like this (with apologies to Whiteoaks’ SEO efforts):

“She started talking. He stopped listening again. As her arms waved, the button gave up the good fight and parted ways with the hole it had been in. Her blouse sprang apart. He was assaulted with the sight of lots of pale creamy flesh bursting out of a hot pink bra, the cleavage high and perky. It was a gorgeous surprise, all that breast she’d been hiding under her crisp tailored shirts.

“But then that was what he thought of Eve in general – that she was hiding a whole lot of woman under the attitude. It was a thought that had intrigued him more than once as he’d seen her typing furiously on her smartphone, clipboard tucked under her arm. What would it be like to see every inch of her naked body, to get her to totally come undone.”

One would think William Shakespeare is turning in his grave, but the fact is, this was achieved by pumping (for want of a better word) 2,800 erotic and romantic novels through the machine.

I do genuinely hope that the future of literature is not computer generated, but I trust that early forays into technological advancements – such as artificial intelligence – continue to be handled with good humour.

We all need a laugh every now and again.