We recently spoke to Kris Hammond, chief scientist and co-founder of Narrative Science, a company with an artificial intelligence product called Quill that can turn data into stories that read as if they were written by a human.
This has instantly obvious applications in the business world. Why isn’t a certain product selling? Why is a particular retail franchise succeeding or failing? Quill can spin wonky stats into a story that anyone can read so that they can answer these questions without having to dive into alternately boring or scary numbers.
We asked Hammond if artificial intelligence could conceivably write bestseller fiction. Some already predict that machines will be the dominant “species” by 2045, so surely it’s not that much of a stretch to keep humans entertained in the meantime?
“Yes, but it will be a different kind of system than Quill,” said Hammond. “Consider the movie ‘The Invention of Lying.’ Before Ricky Gervais’s character invents lying, all the world’s television shows are documentaries. That’s Quill. The stories it tells are based on data in the real world. There are other ways you can tell stories, of course, but this is Quill’s way. It will always do ‘documentaries,’ in some sense, but other technology will create fiction from other sources. Quill will inform them tremendously and components will go into them, but that’s not its job. It’s a little too businessy.”
John Grisham’s livelihood is safe for now.