Have you ever thought about the stories you’ve shared from friends and family? Or viewing Big Hero 6 or the commercial for iPhone X? From personal experiences to entertainment, storytelling is embedded within the human experience. These stories appeal to different levels of intelligence, consciousness, emotions, and creativity. Such attributes keep us connected with the world around us. They are also what sets us apart from artificial intelligence (AI).
On February 20th at the Swissnex in San Francisco, Paul Li, Professor of Cognitive Science at UC Berkeley, and Mark Reidl, Director of the Entertainment Lab, touched on these topics as they discussed our relationship with AI and its impacts on storytelling. They shared their thoughts on this emerging technology and its present state and influence on the future.
Here’s the Catch 22 on this Story
During their conversation, Li and Reidl (2018) talked about AI missing elements of the human experience, such as ethics and creativity. While AI has been incorporated into many of the services we use today and revolutionized how we acquire information, consume music and movies, and get directions, there are ethical implications to consider such as its potential for harm against humans or the ability to work effectively and empathically alongside us. There’s also the ongoing issue and debate of AI obsoleting certain professions from the job market. Even more, “AI still makes lots of mistakes and there’s not a clear answer on how to fix these issues” (Reidl, 2018).
When it comes to creativity, the possibilities for the human experience are endless. However, AI, on the other hand, has its limits. Because of its goal driven system, AI is unable to branch out. Take for example a fairytale like The Ugly Duckling or Cinderella. AI will be able to follow along with stories such as these because it follows similar themes and rules as other stories because of their familiarity.
But what happens when AI has to follow along with a novel or generate stories about the real world?
It will be challenging for a machine to keep up with all the details in an experience like going to a restaurant or conversing in another language. Reidl (2018) mentioned that learning involves error and makes it tougher for a machine to tell a story. AI has the ability to talk about things, not about the effects of it.
Into the Future
It’s unclear as to what the storytelling process will look like with AI as we progress. Li and Reidl discussed how gaming can be used to explore AI’s impact on generating meaningful narratives. There’s a lot of room to play (no pun intended) within this area of study because gaming can implement elements of cultural diversity and empathy. Watson and Unity is one existing example. While this research is helpful, there is still so much to unpack about this technology that’s changed the way we live.
Why would we tell stories to computers when they will someday overtake our way of thinking?
Can the technology read between the lines?
Can they fully understand the puns, metaphors, jokes, slang, and other terminology we use?
How do we know our AI is telling us the truth? Will we need a lie detector?
Will its means of creativity be endless or unlimited?
Will it be able to comprehend a narrative as it grows in complexity?
Will AI have morals?
So many questions. So very few answers.
But through time, research, and collaborative efforts, AI might just have a chance to interact and coexist peacefully amongst humans.