Robots have long been a part of the collective imagination, taking over our governments and marrying our lovers and fighting our wars in movies and books. Think The Terminator movies, Her, Westworld, Austin Powers, I, Robot, A.I.—the list goes on and on.
And there’s been a lot of talk about robots and AI in the news lately: stories about whether robotics will take over the job market; the latest in art by algorithm; and Tim Cook’s take on the dangers of A.I.
So should we all be afraid that robots are coming for our jobs?
For those of us who work in PR, social media, and marketing, the answer is probably no (for now).
The reason that we don’t yet need to worry about our own replacement by artificial intelligence is because good storytelling is central to so much of PR and social media. Figuring out what storylines are compelling, telling those stories thoughtfully and visually—these are skills that good marketers need to hone.
And so far, AI hasn’t proved to be especially adept at storytelling.
One example of terrible (hilarious, but terrible) AI writing is in the Harry Potter chapter written by AI. The robot analyzed the other Harry Potter books and spit out this work of, uh, fiction, titled Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. One of our favorite bits:
“Not so handsome now,” thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce. The Death Eaters were dead now, and Harry was hungrier than he had ever been.”
MMMkay, Robot Rowling. It’s a bizarre and funny story cobbled together by artificial intelligence, but it tells us something important: that A.I. doesn’t yet have the skill to put together truly compelling stories. The A.I. world advances constantly, so who knows how long we can depend on robots to be deeply mediocre storytellers. But for now, we’re still the ones wielding the storytelling skills.