Storytelling advances with technology.
With every new human innovation, our stories adapt. Because no matter how much we grow, storytelling is an integral part of mankind. We carry stories with us through every cultural shift and technological advancement.
The logical next step in storytelling innovation involves artificial intelligence. Using algorithms and machine learning, we can program computers to write their own stories. Developers upload volumes of human-created stories and have the computers identify and recreate these patterns.
Stories are a part of humanity because God, the original storyteller, created us in his image. So it makes sense that we would naturally program stories into the DNA of the digital intelligence we create.
“Alexa, tell me a story.”
Amazon’s series of Echo voice-controlled devices use the Alexa personal assistant to make your life easier. From setting timers to sending messages, Alexa has many uses—including storytelling.
The thing that makes Alexa so powerful is the open source edition of skills. Developers can create and submit skills that are then added to Amazon’s marketplace for use on any Echo—essentially voice apps. And a number of these skills involve telling stories.
Alexa is far from the only virtual assistant these days. There’s also Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant. You can ask them both to tell you a story. And here’s what they might say.
These are all just canned responses from Amazon, Apple, and Google. But these assistants are getting smarter. What if one day they could create their own stories based on what they know about us?
Botnik is an online community that combines artificial intelligence with real, creative humans. The website has a Predictive Writer app that allows users to select from different source texts and then choose suggested words at random to compose a unique tale.
One of the best examples of these creations was a hilarious parody of the Harry Potter series. This is an actual line from that text: “Not so handsome now,” thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce. The Death Eaters were dead now, and Harry was hungrier than he had ever been.”
Stories like these may not be the most important ones we tell with technology. But they show the importance of humor in pushing innovation. If stories made by artificial sources are entertaining, they’re more likely to earn our approval and keep growing.
InspiroBot is an online program that creates motivational-poster style graphics. It does this by taking a mash-up of text from actual motivational posters and overlaying the text on random stock photos.
The results are some combination of humorous, confusing, and down-right dark (be aware that some may be inappropriate or suggestive, so click with caution). The best part is that these graphics are generated automatically in seconds. It’s a fun way to get a laugh if you have five minutes to kill.
These may not be stories in the strictest sense. But they do each tell a unique story with their bizarre combination of text and images. And it’s certainly a brilliantly simple use of artificial intelligence. It’s one inspirational bot.
What This Means For The Church
Honestly, it will likely be years before the church even comes close to utilizing artificial intelligence in anything we do. It’s too costly and technologically preventative. We’ll probably catch up with this trend in a few hundred years once it’s no longer cutting edge.
Nevertheless, we need to remember that AI is already having an impact on our society. And if robots are learning how to tell stories, the Church needs to be sure to keep up. Even if the Church isn’t actively involved in these conversations, we should at the very least observe them.
Computers are only going to get smarter. Machine learning is a thing of the present, not the future. Robots are becoming more self-aware. The Church needs to become aware of what’s going on with this technology unless we want to remain just a thing of the past.
- How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Storytelling
- Artificial Intelligence: A Complement To Great Storytelling
- The Ground Rules for AI Storytelling
- Why Google, Ideo, And IBM Are Betting On AI To Make Us Better Storytellers
- AI and Storytelling: An Unlikely Friendship