The first seminar I attended at the London Book Fair 2016 had the intriguing title "Books that Write Themselves: How the Rapid Rise of Artificial Intelligence Will Create a New Form of Publishing". I was looking forward to learning how I could get a bot to write my next book, leaving me time to work on the one after that! Or at least, taking some of the workload away.
In the event the seminar turned out to be more about the writing and marketing processes rather than AI. Still, it was good to hear that writers still have a central role. The idea put forward by the speaker, Guy Gadney, was that writers were needed to create the characters and the initial story, and then AI would take over and learn from that initial input.
(I'm still waiting for the day when the technology featured in an episode of the British TV series The Avengers is available. In that story, books were "written" by playing on a special piano. As you typed, the manuscript was printed out. Whether the scene was happy, sad or a cliffhanger depended entirely on the music being played!)
There's an example of a game in which the other character (other than yourself, that is) is powered by AI and knows about you (through social media connections) and can answer intelligently (if I've understood the description properly). I'm looking forward to trying it out: The Suspect. The premise of the game is that you are questioning someone who is suspected of murder. It sounds intriguing, and from my brief glimpse the graphics are stunning.
Gadney did have an interesting observation about Tay, the Microsoft AI bot that went disastrously wrong, and which I'm writing about in the next issue of Digital Education. (In case you don't know about it, Tay was released on Twitter and very quickly learnt from the worst, becoming a raging everything-phobe and swearing like a trooper.) He suggested that Microsoft made two mistakes: first, not employing enough writers to establish Tay's moral code and behaviour parameters, and (b) switching on its learning capacity too soon.
I've written more about my visit to the London Book Fair on my writing blog.