Long story short: Algorithm hype

Long story short, the writing game is like many walks of life, in many ways. One trend is the increasing reliance on tech that seems universally acknowledged and as widely debated. It’s useful or harmful, it quashes or enhances the human element. It helps or hinders creativity… and now it may even guide authors in how to write a bestseller. Small wonder that so many people, with vested interests, in contemporary and literary fiction are all in a tizz over algorithms.

Algorithm?

Yes.

An algorithm that can, kind of, predict and help outline a bestseller is perhaps not that newsworthy. Even this humble (budget-free) blog has referred to this zeitgeist tale. Check out a previous musing on, among other points, the Hedonometer.

Yet currently many talking heads, who are paid to fill column inches, are rinsing this story. The Guardian and The Atlantic have picked up on it and churned it back out. There are others. It all feels like a lot of noise over nothing. Yet it also feels like the start of a story set to run and run. And, so far, nobody has posed an obvious literary question:

Do algorithms dream of electric sheep? 


Long story short? The story of human labourer to factory machine to skilled robot to the time-saving algorithms of today is centuries old. Just as old and boorish are the debates, driven by progress or panic. The next chapter is more intriguing: Artificial Intelligence. Some of the best brains on the planet – Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk to name but two – are quite concerned about Artificial Intelligence. For sure, ‘AI’ is an altogether more significant subject than algorithms… even if the latter could help me write a bestseller.

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