By Edward Nawotka
This article originally appeared in the PW/BookBrunch London Book Fair Show Daily.
To most people the emergence of artificial intelligence is somewhat terrifying. On Tuesday, in the first session in the London Book Fair’s Interactive Theater, Guy Gadney, CEO and Founder of To Play For, offered a view of where we currently are with AI, arguing that technology is beginning to emerge that will ultimately enable “all books to write themselves” and create “a new publishing form.”
With a background in technology and television—Gadney was instrumental in the development of the popular app, “Sherlock: The Network“—he extrapolated that authors and publishers are perfectly positioned to create interactive books in which characters react differently to individual readers. It might be seen as extension of the “put me in the story” trend that has taken hold in children’s books.
Presently, this tech is best displayed in the form of apps that interact with audiences in real time, using “chat bot” technology. But as an example of what might be done, Gadney cited “The Suspect,” an interactive app in which a user engages in a rapid-fire Q&A with an avatar of a suspected criminal seated in a virtual interrogation room at a police station. The user’s goal is to ascertain ten distinct pieces of information from the suspect that in turn saves potential victims. The twist? The suspect knows things about you, the user, gleaned from your social media feeds and reacts to your questions and interacts with you personally.
“Essentially, a live relationship can be built between characters and readers,” Gadney claimed.
“The Suspect” was built upon IBM’s Watson AI technology. But unfortunately, this still demanded that 90% of the writing of the dialog and story was done by hand, with only 10% automation. As yet, “the books won’t write themselves,” said Gadney.