⚠ Rant alert
What a former story writing judge shared in a group discussion I was in made my jaw drop.
She told of a sci-fi writing contest she worked in not long ago. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners had been chosen out of nearly 100 entries and prizes awarded. Afterwards, she was contacted by the 3rd place winner. Turns out he was a software engineer who’d used the contest as a testing ground to submit a computer-generated story. An AI-written story had made the cut and won a prize. Let that sink in.
The judge went on to swear she never suspected a thing. Nothing, but nothing, in the story hinted it hadn’t been written by a human. Plot, characters, dialogue… all seemed legit.
Makes you wonder how many other stories circulating out there right now had no human author.
I fear this future of story publishing.
One can argue that today’s commercial writing formulas for publishing novels are already blocking human creativity with their prescribed components. Things like recommended chapter/sentence word counts; plot element catalogues; snowflake methods; set readability metrics; seven-point, three-act structures… Let’s not kid ourselves. A computer that can bleep out a full fit-to-formula novel in 5.3 seconds that would have taken even the fastest of human writers weeks to do will appeal to a publisher’s bottom line every time.
And how many readers out there would really care?
Computer-generated stories using pre-programmed elements determined to be most popular and marketable are not a far-fetched possibility. They exist now.
Someday soon, for a modest fee, a person will be able to select the genre of story they desire with the exact kind of characters they want along with plot, ending –everything down to the nitty-gritty details of whether they prefer the hero green-eyed or the setting in their own hometown, for example.
As long as what the consumer likes to read is cheaply available and rapidly produced, so what? The publishing company algorithms will deal directly with the story-generating software ones, eliminating the pesky middleman from the equation; the human writer.
The next novel you read may be written by a computer.
Thoughts anyone? Deus ex machina to the literal extreme? Since many of our readers come from the 3310 fandom, what do you think this spells for fanfiction? FF is so niche and “non-commercial”, it could very well end up one of the last hold-outs for true human creativity given it cannot be “made to order”? Imagine that.