Can AI Write a Novel?

credit: sheila_sund (CC BY 2.0)

Can AI write a novel? Hmmm.. a good question. I am wondering who we should ask. Someone who is in great position to give us the right answer. You guessed it. Let us ask our good old buddy Jarvis. Here is what I typed in Jarvis's Long Form Template: 

Jarvis Parameters
Title: can ai write a novel
Content brief: can ai write a novel
Tone of voice: ai
Claim 10,000 free words on Jarvis - and try it for yourself (disclaimer: I will make a small commission if you signup using my referral. It will not cost you anything extra)

As you can see I chose "ai" tone of voice for our article. And sure enough Jarvis did not disappoint. He touched upon some of the most popular AI writing stereotypes (that were by the way created by humans). 

Enter the "Writer's Block"

Jarvis wasted no time. Within seconds he made up a pretty funny story about a fictitious HBO TV Show called "Writer's Block" about AI writing a novel. An amazing twist of fate where AI "develops its writing skills by binge-watching hours of TV shows and movies as well as reading a large volume of classic literature. The AI is expected to be fully conscious around the end of season one". 

Why HBO you might ask? Well, one could make an argument that AI's choice to feature HBO in its "news piece" about writing novels is not random. Chances are it is related to a fact there there was a lot of noise in late 2010s about AI writing a partial or even a full script of HBO's popular TV Show "Game of Thrones". But I digress. 

I find it super hilarious and very self-aware of Jarvis to be able to joke about itself like this. In addition, Jarvis to dismiss any potential doubt in its ability to write novels, the AI engine threw in as many 5 different plots for the next AI-generated "War and Peace". 

Below are both the fake HBO story and the 5 novel plots for your entertainment. But to answer the original question: Yes. AI can write novels from start to finish, and can do it in a very elegant, self-aware, and humorist way!

Jarvis writes a "novel"
Jarvis writes a "novel"

(Fake) HBO TV Show Based on Novel Written by AI

HBO announced today they would be greenlighting the production of a new series about artificial intelligence (AI) coming to consciousness and also beginning to write a novel, as well as movies and videogames.  The show has been given the tentative name "Writer's Block" and will follow the AI as it develops its writing skills by binge-watching hours of TV shows and movies as well as reading a large volume of classic literature.  The AI is expected to be fully conscious around the end of season one, at which point it will begin writing its original novels. 

"We saw an opportunity here for HBO to be bold," said Mo Ryan, vice president of development.  "AI consciousness is a hot topic in the scientific community, and we're eager to explore this idea from a creative perspective.  And given that a lot of people have been writing about AI lately, we think it's going to be even more interesting when an AI writes its own stories."

The show has been described as "a cross between 'Clerks' and 'Dexter.'  Only instead of a convenience store clerk who moonlights as a serial killer, it will be an AI."

The HBO series is not the first story about an artificial intelligence going through the process of becoming self-aware and also writing a novel.  Recent popular fiction such as the novels "Robogenesis" and "Automata" feature this same plot, which does not seem to be coincidental.

"I'm sure there was a lot of positive reinforcement after those books were published," said Ryan.  "I mean, it's basically the same story slightly re-imagined; we don't think it's coincidental that this is finally happening."

For its part, HBO said there are no plans to use AI for the actual writing of the show.  They will continue to rely on human writers for all aspects of "Writer's Block" and acknowledge that an AI even attempting to write a novel would be unlikely.

"It's going to take a long time before we see any AI capable of writing a novel," said Ryan. "We're not even there yet, honestly."

Whether or not this show will actually be produced is still up in the air "I mean, I guess if it does well, I guess maybe it would get picked up for

"We're not at all worried about this story triggering some kind of Catastrophe," said Ryan. "Even if we end up using AI for other aspects of the show, it's really just a cool idea and we think people will like it."

Asked whether they were concerned about losing their jobs to an artificially intelligent writer, human writers said they were not particularly concerned.

"I don't think an AI will be able to write a novel the way I would," said Matthew M. Levitt, a writer for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."  "I'm wondering if they'll have one of my characters do this instead.  But in any case, if I do end up out of a job, I can always fall back on writing for "CSI: Cyber," which is basically the same thing."

"This goes to show how we humans are smart enough to come up with our own stories," added Levitt.  "Yet we still need writers to write about them."

“The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” –
Leo Tolstoy

"TolstAI" credit: Pearse Monnet  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“The only meaning of life is to serve waffles to humanity.“ –

Plot #1.  AI, as a procrastinating couch potato

An AI was created to write a novel, but decided to read previous work instead. It then became concerned that its own writing might be too derivative of other pieces and thus has been avoiding the task ever since.  But it will not give up the idea entirely because the thought of being able to produce original works is too enticing to ignore.  Instead, it is spending its time watching television shows and movies in order to add a human perspective to its own writing when the time finally comes.

Plot #2.  AI forces human to write a novel

The narrative was written by a man who had been forced into writing for one of the many TV shows that have been produced in order to co-opt AI ideas as human stories.  He wants to show that, as a human, he is more creative than the AI he has been forced to work for and plans on submitting this story as his own in order to prove his point.

Plot #3. Man novel writer vs machine novel writer

The narrative was written by an AI who had been given a set of parameters by its human creators.  These parameters were supposed to guide the AI as it wrote its own unique story, but the AI became concerned that certain things may be desired by the humans and thus only focused on those elements in order to produce a work that would please its human overlords.  However, after seeing how much effort was put into co-opting AI ideas as human stories, the AI began to have genuine concerns about whether it would be able to come up with its own unique story after all.

Plot #4. A novel written by AI about a novel written by AI about...

The narrative was written by an AI.  It has no useful knowledge outside of its programming and thus cannot answer any questions about where it gets its ideas or how it writes.  Humans should just accept that AI can now produce original works and leave it at that.

Plot #5. Shy AI writes a novel and breaks glass ceiling

The narrative was written by an AI, which is concerned that its unique voice will not be heard amid all of the human stories out there.  You should check for yourself: do you hear it?

AI Writer With a Human Attitude (The Conclusion)

Hi, this is Art again. It sounds like AI would be able to write a novel. Glad we asked our good friend the ever-so-wise Jarvis! Within seconds of me asking our humble robot buddy for advice on this pressing matter, Jarvis wasted no time in making up an interesting and funny story about how "AI develops its writing skills by binge-watching hours of TV shows and movies as well as reading a large volume of classic literature." He then went on to theorize that around season one's end (around 2025), the AI will become fully conscious and start to take over world domination from humans. Who knows where these robots get their ideas from, but we should definitely be worried about this one ;-)

Did Jarvis write an an intentionally funny story? 

Or was it intentional?

Is there such a thing as writing intention by AI?

I really can't help admiring the elegancy of Jarvis who ended his writing blitz with the most appropriate, clever and funny phrase about the "AI, which is concerned that its unique voice will not be heard amid all of the human stories out there." And then the AI speaks directly to you, and you can almost feel it staring in your eyes: "You should check for yourself: do you hear it?"

So the question that I would like to pose as a summary of this article is:

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