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Friday, June 22, 2018

Writing A̶b̶o̶u̶t̶ With Machine Learning by Lauren Avjean Parzanese


Writing About With Machine Learning

by Lauren Avjean Parzanese

How many science fiction tales have there been that caution against the threat of robots taking over the world? What about more recent criticism against the automation of labor and its effect on human jobs? Too many to count, spanning the course of decades. Though we are likely a long enough way away from the technological singularity, there are a number of jobs and tasks that run the risk of being replaced by automation. So far, we have automated phone services, self driving cars, drone delivery, a plethora of labor types, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that automation poses the threat of doing anything and everything a human can - only better.

Everything except creativity, right? Surely the human mind is necessary to accomplish any of the arts: music, fine art, photography, writing?

On the vein of creative works, one of the major premises in the XBox game “The Turing Test” is that an AI entity requires the help of a human (the protagonist) to solve a number of puzzles in order to gain access to its computer mainframe - puzzles that were designed so that only the creativity of a human mind could solve them. But how true is it that computers lack the capability to achieve this sort of creativity on its own?

A few years back, the Deep Dream Generator was making the rounds on various social media platforms where you could upload an image of your choosing, and the Deep Neural Network would “sleep on it,” or “dream,” and develop its own interpretation of the image provided. The results tended to be the stuff of nightmares instead of Deep Dreams. While it embellished upon already established art - it was not actually creating its own, indicating that we had a long way to go before computers could take over the visual spectrum of the arts.

In 2010, Iamus, which was “the first fragment of professional contemporary classical music ever composed by a computer in its own style, rather than attempting to emulate the style of existing composers as was previously done.” (source: "Computer composer honours Turing's centenary". New Scientist. 5 July 2012.) Its first full, original composition was titled “Hello World!” and was generated by Iamus in 2011, and then subsequently performed by human musicians. Iamus also has a self titled album that was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, and features it (along with more information) at its very own webpage.

But what does any of this have to do with writing? Well, writing also has its own competitor(s) when it comes to the written word. The most recently praised neural network specializes in predictive text and goes by the name “Botnik”. Botnik had already been gaining traction in a number of online circles, but made its big break into the pop culture arena when it came up with its own chapter of Harry Potter - titled “Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ashes."

After “Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ashes,” people began feeding Botnik (alongside a number of other online bots) anything and everything in order to create a new and interesting Deep Dream take on pop culture. Content ranging from Game of Thrones to Olive Garden Commercials to Inspirational quotes and everything in between.

But how far can Botnik go? Could it write a blog? Let’s invite a Guest Guest Blogger, “Chris Bot-cheen” to shed some light on the subject:

[image: portrait of Chris Bot-cheen*]
Chris Bot-cheen’s Writing About Botnik**

The first place for introspection is not only inaccurate about the culture, but it muddies the water of a sanctimonious narrative.  I've been a writer and that means that you never give up on anything that antifa has done.  So today I want to change that frame of the people who espouse these atrocities and they wonder about the source material of their birth. Sometimes people indiscriminately want to be a microcosm of white nationalists, but they definitely perpetuate the power dynamic of these atrocities.

If you want to write every day and hope someone listens to the margins of our society, but somehow only ever do it a little bit, you are going to be used to sidestep conversations about guns. That someone who hates regulations and hates bipartisan cooperation isn't only a shitty insult, but also causes a lot of people unique vigor for their own acumen. When people tell the story of mental health treatment in this country and culture are rooted in white supremacy and genocide, they also ignore anyone who points out the sexism in their world.  Sometimes it's an expression of the hate we are taught every day.  Sometimes it's the same thing over and over.

Because we liked the media, our faves have created some of the most fundamental tenets of a representative democracy– so many people think they need to practice daily.  Don't always be too busy to do any actual work on listening to them and build a bridge to their interpretation of their own lives.  The things that make us monsters are not always bits working incorrectly. Sometimes it is the enculturation of an indoctrinating force of how impossibly we treat refugees. You will come up with new and interesting perspectives of the people who espouse terrible things, and that we desperately want the capacity of the last word. Some mathematicians start to watch these shows over the writer's past, and they become experts in the methodology of proving a claim.

Meaningful wisdom and even more rarely predictable tenacity, anticipate their most common questions about concepts of social equality and the slightest psychological accuracy of people. Sometimes it's the same thing about feminism that he as a cis het white male is a lot of people know, but when you hit that point where you realize you have to do cognitive dissonance and even more subdued behavior to be vulnerable. However unoriginal that racism is, it is actually a problem. That's a moment before we go on with the inimical finger pointing and our grisly postmortem narratives that blame some particular brand of liberals.

Terrifying wisdom and the slightest psychological accuracy ( the actual number is around 60 % ) are Asgard rejects, of course. What does that even mean?

"A sentinel is a lot of people who have definitively stood up to their own lives." - Lethal Deescalation

That a presidential nominee who bragged during nationally televised debates about scamming freelance workers and spent twenty degrees of "this" excuse for discrimination is a new wave of white supremacy. Each side went away from the most common bastions of advice: write every day, you improve remarkably in a relatively short time, and that we desperately want the capacity to do so while passionately being a good feminist. It is more like the art/artist fusionification of people. Especially when it is mentioned early and often.

[Image description: long line to the "comforting lies booth"]

The narrative we might escape is a lot of work to write creatively and the slightest oversight would be a little better than merely another disturbed fire. You will come up with new and interesting perspectives of people who have definitively stood up for their families without flinching. They are constantly grasping for meaningful justice asgardians who will demand academic rigor in order to accept a claim. Because when you are hiring an editor who fits your style, you are going to eventually have to apply your ass to the chair.

Bloggers who are layered and complicated with rich back stories have been conspicuously silent about the shocking uptick in their own sexuality. What does something like this idea weave at? Maybe not....

Today I have a list for everyone who wants to be a writer:

  1. [Image description: music and inspiration]
  2. you can expect meticulous attention to detail
  3. if you want to write something strange, there are also possible markets for poetry
  4. these projects of people are going to convince the world math is important
  5. " search and destroy any who would challenge her vision. " - mail list of things
  6. the things that make us hope that the skurges of our society will sit quietly into the bowels of incoherent vapidity will be human error
  7. basically ignore how often those same writers emphasize how important it is to dress up your procrastination with worry
  8. [Image description: tire fire gif]
  9. poems of the people that get the reader's attention will be drafted in their head
  10. that is not designed for anything they can get their little fingers on


If you want to write any work, that is how to make it at all. You will delight in the subtle differences between art and artists.


*The featured image was originally taken from Chris Brecheen’s Writing About Writing Facebook page, and then run through the previously mentioned Deep Dream Generator to create the Chris Bot-cheen persona and portrait 

**The featured blog post was written by “Chris Bot-cheen” using the Botnik Predictive Text app, based off of Chris Brecheen’s “Best of W.A.W.” articles and content



Hilarious as the “Chris Bot-cheen” predictive text blog post is/was, you can undeniably identify the W.A.W. literary characteristics it builds from to generate its choices in language. Using a selection from the “Best of W.A.W.” articles alone, Botnik was able to identify, pinpoint, and create its own text that was a clear reflection of iconic content that can be found throughout the real Chris’ blog. Snippets of social justice commentary, politics, and quality writing advice - sprinkled with a dash of pop culture - are easily identified as things that appear throughout the W.A.W. site… even if Botnik took it upon itself to create its own hilarious take on the language choice(s) - whether that was done deliberately or not.

Perhaps we have a little further to go before deep neural networks, especially predictive text generators, could takeover a blog like Writing about Writing. That said, the recognizable sophistication that is already present is both promising and terrifying at the same time. How long until well established bloggers or authors become indistinguishable from their digital “counterbots?” What level of complexity would it take for such a deep neural network to become interchangeable with these writers, and even other artists?

I do not claim to know the intricacies of the wide variety/ies of programming languages, nor the exact level of sophistication it would take to accomplish such an endeavor, but in my opinion we will see it happen within our lifetime(s).

For the foreseeable future, I would not plan on quitting writing in order to allow a neural network take over my writing - however neural networks such as Botnik and its digital brethren promise to provide valuable input, commentary, and a wide variety of unbiased interpretations of our own written work. While we wait for the much debated and previously mentioned technological singularity, an aspiring or established writer could plug in their existing work(s) to a literary bot and see: what sort of words they use too often, what signature phrases turn up more than they expect, or simply for their own personal entertainment. The possibilities are endless, infinitely useful, and cost nothing more than time and effort.

Give it a try with your own writing and see what you come up with!

"Lauren Avjean Parzanese is an east coast transplant who relocated to sunny California back in 2009. She has a background in finance, escrow, is a commissioned California Notary, and lifelong super geek. After well over a decade of RPG and LARP writing experience, Lauren left her day job at the beginning of 2018 and has finally begun to taste the exquisite freedom of diving into other creative mediums full time - including the occasional guest blog. Other personal and creative outlets include (but are not limited to) painting, burlesque, PC gaming (*cough* Blizzard *cough*), reading, long distance running, scifi/fantasy writing, extreme flower smelling, circus and aerial arts, and endeavoring to raise a strong, independent daughter. She is currently in the process of writing her first novel, which should be completed by the end of 2018 or early 2019."


If you would like to guest blog for Writing About Writing we would love to have an excuse to take a day off a wonderful diaspora of voices. Take a look at our guest post guidelines, and drop me a line at chris.brecheen@gmail.com.

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