Stanford Poetry slamFor writers out there who thought that a Hollywood scriptwriting opportunity was the very best the West Coast had to offer authors, a new Washington Post article might turn your attention further north, to Silicon Valley.

I can’t do better than to quote the article on the nature of this opportunity. “Writing for AI is becoming a hot job in Silicon Valley. Behind Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are not just software engineers. Increasingly, there are poets, comedians, fiction writers, and other artistic types charged with engineering the personalities for a fast-growing crop of artificial intelligence tools.”

The article focuses on the value of writers and poets in humanizing AI digital assistants, and giving them humanizing quirks that bridge the “uncanny valley” and make them less forbidding to human users. But any writer or poet will suspect that there are more applications than just that, since so much writing focuses on ambiguity, semantic foibles, and other aspects of meaning that may find unexpected relevance to situations handled by digital assistants. Also, a new crop of startups and their VC backers hopping to emulate Amazon’s runaway success with Alexa are likely to find more and more specialized task-focused AIs that need their own scriptwriters.

Educators and even VC titans like Vinod Khosla who used to pooh-pooh the value of an arts education in today’s tech-focused society may soon be forced to eat their words – literally. Writers and poets, meanwhile, may get a welcome boost to their proverbially meager incomes. Entrants in Stanford University’s first Stanford Code Poetry Slam, illustrated above, may be ahead of the game. But it looks like this is an opportunity for all creative writers. Whether the AIs then close the loop and go on to co-write the next James Patterson bestseller, of course, is another story … though probably a very predictably written one …


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail