Why Artificial Intelligence Should Read and Write Stories


Image credit: Brian Matis

Storytelling is an important part of how we, as humans, communicate and teach each other. We tell stories dozens of times a day: around the dinner table to share experiences; through fables to teach values; through journalism to communicate important events; and in entertainment movies, novels, and computer games for fun. Stories motivate people to learn which is why they form the backbone, too, of training scenarios and case studies at school or work.

Despite the importance of storytelling as part of the human experience, computers still cannot create and tell novel stories, nor understand stories told by humans. When computers do tell stories, via an eBook or computer game, they simply regurgitate something written by a human. They do not partake in the culture we are immersed in, as manifested through journalistic news articles, the movies we watch, or the books we read.

Why does it matter? AI has become more prevalent in our everyday lives. Soon, it will not be unusual for us to interact with more advanced forms of Siri or Cortana on a daily basis. When we use those systems today, we find it to be an alien sort of intelligence. The AI makes decisions that sometimes can be hard for us to make sense of. Their failures are often due to the fact that they cannot make sense of what we are trying to accomplish or why.

My goal as a researcher is to instill computers with narrative intelligence — the ability to craft, tell, and understand stories based on human reactions. In doing so, I hope to make computers better communicators, educators, entertainers and more capable of relating to us by genuinely understanding our needs.

With research into narrative intelligence, we may one day have computers that —> Read More