The world is ending.
Though I’m speaking strictly in the most technical of terms, of course.
Recently scientists just declared that Earth had entered its sixth mass extinction event, which… well, I mean that simply can’t bode well, right? There’s just no way anyone could spin that phrase to mean anything other than death on an absolutely massive scale. Mass extinctions are two words that no matter how lightly or happily you try and say them, just come out super dark. Try it.
Next time someone asks you anything, literally anything, just answer them with the words ‘mass extinction’ and watch the hope fade from their eyes. Watch them understand that all things must end, no matter how happy you make it sound.
“What do you want for dinner babe?”
“I was thinking some mass extinction!”
And you wondered why you never heard from her again.
Anyway, that train of thought got a little far ahead on the crazy tracks, usually I’m able to reign it in by the time I get around to the world ending.
‘A very quiet and eerily whispered Choo! Choo!’
Where this post was intended to begin was not nearly a place so upsetting. It’s just that I couldn't shake the fact scientists think everything’s going extinct for the sixth time (which is itself a rather upsetting fact).
How could I? But now you must be equally as upset as me.
So lets talk about another ending people are screaming about these days, though not entirely without cause.
That ending being none other than robots!
I bring this up only because I wonder will robots ever, as they are predicted to do for many workforces, contest with writers?
A hundred years is a long time for anything. A hundred years made the difference between a life expectancy of 47 and 80.
But surely as one of the oldest fields ever, human writing will continue until the very end you cry? Well, the optimist in me cries yes too! But another part of me wonders, albeit a little fearfully. I have no doubt that some version or other of writing will continue to exist until the last breath of humanity, but what we consider human writing is another matter entirely. I suppose this begs the ultimate questions that if by the year 2115, A - humans have somehow managed to not blow each other up and B - robots or AI have advanced far enough to create stories of there own. Assuming A works out, than my answer is an almost definitive yes.
I say this because I look at what was accomplished from 1915 to 2015 and can’t help but imagine the craziest things for 2015 to 2115. Not only that, but the technology in question already exists.
Yeah, had to do a double take on that one, right?
Turns out I’m actually a robot right now.
Well, partly. In the sense that I only vaguely understand there’s a sun outside, I am in fact a robot. Unfortunately though not the cool metallic kind.
But seriously, AI has in an honestly very freaky and kinda eerie way, come up with ‘stories’ of its own. I put stories in quotations both because they’re insane as hell (like Mel Gibson insane) and visual pieces.
Google’s artificial brain actually has (not joking here) developed the ability to dream. The tech behind it is certainly beyond me, but the gist of it is that this artificial intelligence can take things from the internet, and reimagine them in its own way.
And the things it imagines…
Well, let’s just say it (should we call it a he or she perhaps?) has a VERY vivid mind. It honestly looks like this thing dropped a bunch of acid and recorded the very first things it saw. That, or it’s wondering what the world will look like 300 years after a nuclear apocalypse.
It’s not pretty.
…But then again, it some ways, strangely, it kinda is.
Let me warn you however that pausing the video released by Google is certainly not for the faint of heart. Picture both Salvador Dalí and his paintings on steroids. And even then, I’m not sure the crazy level is high enough.
Anyway, moving on.
Given that this tech already exists (in some form), and assuming it has a hundred years to evolve, its hard not to believe that eventually it will find a way to ‘write’ stories of its own.
I put ‘write’ in quotations here because it will probably take this (rather disturbed) being a millisecond.
What I’m afraid of (but also slightly intrigued by) is whether or not the stories will be good.
My thinking is they could very well be the epitome of all writing.
Here’s my crazy logic: it’ll take one quick look at everything humanity’s written for the past 10 thousand years, and find a way to merge the best aspects of it all. Shakespeare, Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Tolkien, Stephen King, Poe, Dickinson, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not to mention every piece of surviving literature from the Greek, Egyptian, Roman and Chinese (and many more) time periods. In the blink of an eye it’ll have read more than any human has ever before. And in that same blink, it’ll realize what we enjoy, and ‘write’ just as much.
I wonder, does SkyNet have a literary preference?
But who knows.
Maybe that form of tech will never come around and humanity will be stuck with human authors for the rest of its days.
Not such a bad thought either.
So perhaps human writing will persevere after all!
There is actually a project just recently created called the Future Library. It is literally a library that will not be completed for a hundred years, because the paper it’s to be filled with are only just tree saplings. The idea is that these newly planted trees will grow for 100 years to then be cut down and turned into books. Hence, a Future Library.
Again, 100 years is certainly a long time, and who knows what will happen, but is the idea not oddly comforting? Some of those tales haven't even been written yet, so their stories will grow right alongside their paper.
I feel like wondering about all this is like playing with fire, though I suppose guessing at futures always is. At least until Google’s acid trips can start predicting them.
I think this is all to say writing has a future. That much I dare say is certain. I only wonder at what that future may look like.
Will it be as it has been for thousands of years?
Or will it be something… different?