In recent months, the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing has been rocked by an unexpected development: hundreds of manuscripts have flooded the mailbox of award-winning publication Clarkesworld from writers utilizing chatbot technology. This startling development has caused a sensation in the publishing community, leading some to speculate that the chatbot craze has shifted from simply dominating the world of marketing to invading the very core of creative writing.
At the heart of the controversy is a relatively new technology known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). By leveraging the power of algorithms, machine learning, and natural language programming, chatbots are able to generate relatively convincing compositions. While these compositions are not generally thought of as “true” writing by literary purists, the fact remains that in many ways the results are indistinguishable from works written by humans. As a result, a growing number of writers have been experimenting with NLP to produce stories, poems, and other types of writing.
Not surprisingly, Clarkesworld was unprepared for the onslaught of submissions. The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Neil Clarke, was quoted as saying “This really came out of the blue. We’re not sure what to make of it or what to do with all these stories.” He noted that while the stories did not have the same literary merit or depth of those written by humans, they did reflect the creativity of their authors.
This development has caused other publishing houses to take notice and to prepare for a potential wave of chatbot-generated works. While the idea of machines becoming creative writers may seem far-fetched, this incident is likely just the beginning of a much larger trend.
At the end of the day, the ability of chatbots to craft compelling stories marks a fascinating chapter in the history of creative writing. While there is no denying that the proliferation of NLP-produced tales carries a certain sense of dread, it is ultimately up to us as consumers to decide what kind of literature is truly worth reading.