Right before HBS, I worked at a seed-stage start-up that publishes serialized fiction on a mobile platform. There were thousands of writers publishing their stories on the platform. The company was struggling to put which stories on main – the company was struggling to find the formula that makes the great content. Is the key ingredient the length of one episode, the complexity of words, or the theme of the fiction? In what way should the book cover be designed? Convincing the writers to follow such guidance was one other challenge that the company faced.
This experience led me to think about the following question:
Will AI-be able to replace the great writers?
As for now, a long way to go. So far, AIs only can generate content based on the human-written fictions that are fed into the neural network. However, the result has been incoherent, nonsense novels.
One great example is a short film written entirely by an AI in 2016. The director fed hundreds of screenplays into the AI, but the script does not make any sense. Here is a glimpse of the script.
Man 1: In a future with mass unemployment, young people are forced to sell blood
Woman: You should see the boy and shut up. I was the one who was going to be a hundred years old
Man 1: (Vomits up an eyeball)
Man 2: Well, I have to go to the skull
In shorter-clips, the algorithm has been improved a lot and was able to generate a good-quality advertisement for Lexus in 2018. The clip below is written solely by an AI, based on 15-years worth of luxury ads.
I also have tried to replace my effort to create this article with the help of a service called AIwriter. The service generates an article if you feed in the title to the AI. As shown in below, it’s a pretty bizarre article that I could not use. (This blog post is not generated by an AI.)
Will AI be able to help writers/publishers?
So instead of focusing on ghost AI writers, Hollywood and big publishers have been investing in AI platforms to generate better content for the audience.
ScriptBook is one of the services that help writers to assess and predict the performance of the script. If a writer feeds in the scenario, the AI predicts numerous factors, such as the target audience the script would best appeal, the audience satisfaction (i.e., Rotten Tomatoes critics, IMDb ratings), gender equality measures, and the appropriate production budget to reach the max ratings.
One other service called Merlin also provides in-depth audience analytics for film studios. It assesses movie trailers frame by frame. It clarifies the objects at a particular level (i.e., facial hair, tree, forest). Then, the AI compares the assessment with the other movie trailers and gives the film studios which audience would the trailer attract most. For example, it predicted that Logan would attract the same audience of X-men, John Wick, and Doctor Strange. The result was mostly in line with the actual in-person survey, and surprisingly intuitive in the sense that it predicted non-superhero movie like John Wick.
It is obvious that AI could be at least a good companion for writers, giving them data-based feedback and guidelines.
However, one remaining question is: Is AI killing the creative realm of the content creators? Writing has been considered an art for a long time. There have been many incidents that a scenario/fiction that no one could see it becoming a hit, becomes a world-wide big hit. This unpredictability is one of the things that make people enthusiastic about creating and consuming content. In the world where AI will guide all writers, would all content look the same? Will there be any fresh, eye-opening content?
 ‘It’s a war between technology and a donkey’ – how AI is shaking up Hollywood, The Guardian, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/jan/16/its-a-war-between-technology-and-a-donkey-how-ai-is-shaking-up-hollywood
 If a novel was good, would you care if it was created by artificial intelligence?, The Guardian, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/27/artificial-intelligence-computer-novels-fiction-write-books
 20th Century Fox is using AI to analyze movie trailers and find out what films audiences will like, The Verge, 2018, https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/2/18055514/fox-google-ai-analyze-movie-trailer-predict-success-logan