The Most Human Art Form


I feel the seconds burning away very acutely. And thus, I must justify
the usage of each one as it passes irrefutably into the horizon. This
is why I have been meditating on the love-hate relationship I have
with writing. The day I re-wrote my website and decided to start “The
Friday Post” was the day I took a stand.

Unfortunately, I sometimes forget my reasons for spending so many
hours each week attempting to re-learn the English language (properly
this time.) Still, it didn’t seem like enough to just re-brainwash
myself with my so called “first language” (I know about 6 programming
languages) so when I am told I can’t, “Say it like that.” I get a bit
frustrated with English.

And as the hours of effort steal time from some other very pressing
and important projects with real obvious justifications I revisit the
notion for there must be a larger reason. What reasons do writers have
in general?

I proposed the question to a few handy folks in a writers group. They
replied with a variety of intriguing insights. Writing, functions as a
shout in the dark for some whom tie a sense of identity to it. It’s a
way to mark your existence. In fact, another author points out reading
a book is like resurrecting a long dead person to have a chat for an
evening. And still more, generally agree, that they write for the
entertainment of others. They take the stage of text and use it to
project experiences into the world to promote humor or tragedy or what
ever suits their wordy fancy.

Regardless, of the form the writing takes, it is the function-the
manifestation that echoes throughout our society. When someone sits
down and forges a block of text that converts millions into consumers
of character related merchandise the mark is felt worldwide. It is
felt in the theaters and in the pockets of businesses that capitalise
on the collective hallucination we call pop culture.

Even revolutionaries die for manifestos written by long dead philosophers.

Do writers write to create worlds? Do they write to ask what-if
questions? Do they enjoy becoming armchair gods for all those willing
to press the words into their brains? I suspect as much.

I suspect that writers would find my take on writing abhorrent. I dare
to ask the question: Can a machine write a book worth reading?

I believe it is possible. Although, succeeding in creating a system
that writes a novel is highly unlikely for me personally. The self
inspection from devising such a scheme is well worth the effort.
After all, the more I try to teach a machine to write the more I find
myself asking what it means to be human.

Attempting to make something in the computer requires the kind of
detailed introspection reserved for multi-million dollar
can-not-fail-projects that space probes are accustomed to. When you
have to examine a skill at the level of detail necessary to instruct a
computer you tend to polish your own thoughts regarding the task at
hand. So, I found myself asking question upon question to drill down
through all the layers of abstraction delivered in the act of writing.

Is there any better Turing test than that which would require a
machine to write a full length novel? Successful novels require deep
human insights and the full command of human experiential happenstance
in order to tell a convincing tale. Layers of psychology, plot
structure, world logic, interpersonal skills and even poetic elements
weave a tale worth reading. Would anyone ever be fooled into thinking
a human wrote the output from a machine?

Just how far does a machine have to go to mimic long form fiction?
How human do you have to be?

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