Like-Minded Machines

The Line Between Bots And Humans Continues To Blur

In a world where almost anything can be connected to the Internet, track our data, and become "smart," artificial intelligence has moved from science fiction to practical reality, spurring a heated debate about the potential benefits and possible risks of a world where machines can think like humans.

At the SXSW session Machines that Tell Stories, Jeff Kramer of HP and John Lebkowski of Polycot Associates led a small group discussion on both the art and science of storytelling in a world where artificial intelligence is creeping into everything we do.

The two opened their talk by asking the audience: "What is a story?"

A story can take many forms, from journalism to fiction to games and more. Yet whatever the form, stories carry deep meaning and human perspective. What happens to storytelling when it is given over to robots? Does it lose its meaning by lacking human context? Or does it open up a world with endless entertainment opportunities, possibly even going so far as to generate personalized entertainment for each individual based on our unique data footprint and machines' predictive capability to know what you – and you alone – will enjoy?

What we are starting to see is a powerful partnership emerging with human-robot collaborations. By recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of both, an AI world where storytelling can become both more efficient and more meaningful, is possible. For while bots excel at the who, what, when, and where, only humans can truly fill in the why.

Perhaps our future doesn't have to end in a robot apocalypse like sci-fi movies will tell us. But rather it could be a harmonious world where humans and robots work hand in hand.