Nearly everyone is familiar with the concept of predictive texting or messaging, where a word is started and the computer completes it on the writer’s behalf. Most of the time, this is helpful and saves time. From time to time, it can go a little wrong, sometimes with unfortunate, embarassing or hilarious results.
Botnik takes the idea of predictive text up a gear, by predicting a chapter of a book. The AI bot’s latest venture was to write a new chapter in the Harry Potter series after keyboards were trained on all seven of the previous books.
The results are impressive – given that whole sentences and paragraphs were predicted rather than just the odd word or phrase. But, impressive as it may be, the results are definitely on the entertaining rather than the useful side.
Fans of both Harry Potter and the Botnik have been sharing their favourite sentences online, with the original tweet getting almost 45,000 retweets.
Many fans retweeted '“Death Eaters are on top of the castle!” Ron bleated, quivering. Ron was going to be spiders. He just was.'
Others were amused by '“I’m going to get aggressive” confessed the reasonable Hermione.'
While 'Harry looked around and then fell down the spiral staircase for the rest of the summer' also caused much mirth, perhaps because it so nearly made sense until that last word.
Botnik describes itself as a community of writers, artists and developers building and using machine-learning tools to remix and transform language.
Previous texts fed to the predictive keyboard include poetry, buzzfeed quizzes, quotes from Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and reviews of new technology.
Safety in creative jobs?
Writing is an unexpected candidate for a job that is vulnerable to an AI takeover, with creativity and soft skills amongst the things most difficult for robots to emulate.
AI bots are undeniably already replacing humans in some jobs, for example data input, self-service McDonald’s kiosks, warehousing, and self-service checkouts in shops.
Data from the Robotics Industries Association reveals that 14,583 robots worth $817m were sold to companies around the world during the first half of 2016 alone. And a study from the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that nearly half of all the work we do will be able to be automated by 2055, although factors such as politics and public opinion could push that date back by 20 years.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report predicts that 5 million jobs will be lost by 2020 as AI, robotics, nanotechnology and other technology developments replace the need for human workers.
Fortunately for novelists, Botnik will have to perfect its writing skills further before they need to start worrying about their jobs.