stories and artificial intelligence

As a young soul I was always fascinated by stories, stories of Rama and Arjuna, stories of freedom fighters and stories of superheroes (guess we all have been fans of larger than life heroes). It was always fascinating to hear about the superpowers that these heroes possessed, how they were able to overcome the odds and how they had a personal story – a wonderful journeys of their own ups and downs. As a kid it was almost as if I wanted to live their lives, always felt connected to their emotions.

As I grew up, to my surprise, I had my own stories to narrate – about my own journey – about my life at school, college with friends and now at various workplaces. It is fascinating that as human beings we have the power to build and narrate incidents, draw conclusions, share experiences and in the process emotionally involve the listener in our own world.

Stories are a wonderful tool, but when the same tool is to be used in a professional setup – advertisements, campaign ideas or business presentations – it becomes a difficult skill to master. It sounds ironical but true. The fundamental reason (to me) lies in the fact that stories are supposed to have souls and as professionals our decisions are driven by logic and rationale. It becomes difficult to turn a logical, rationale conversation into a story system – I have been challenged (and continue to be).

To overcome the challenge is possible. You could learn from inspirational leaders like Steve Jobs who had mastered the art of Story telling in a professional context, all the greats from advertising have been telling beautiful stories about the brands they work with.  Here is a great example:

This campaign completely nails the point – I personally love it for the fact that this is very bollywoodish in its over the top communication.

The reason we struggle with storytelling is the same as that of mastering intelligence. In other words, we have built machines with artificial intelligence. We have been able to teach computers how to make reason based decisions, in fact, we have been doing that for decades. However, we are not able to teach a computer non-rationale thinking? the reaction/emotion that humans have to situations without real rules, reasons or thinking.

I believe the day we would be able to create a machine that can narrate stories, conceive new worlds, imagine conditions that influence Human experiences – we would truly master intelligence.

Computing has seen advancement, we are marching towards a more complex neural network of data based machine learning and intelligence – sample IBM Watson, Wolfram knowledge engine and so on, these systems are bringing immense power of decision making to machines. IBM Watson can respond to a question in the same way a human would i.e. it knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. However, none of these systems are close to or close enough to a point when these machine could create Stories!

While we are some time away from creating artificially intelligent story telling system – there are ways in which machines are (already) becoming important part of our stories.

Here is a great example:

I am sure as we learn to master the art of story telling ourselves, we will be able to create machines that are truly human. I am an optimist, am exploring that everyday in the work that I do, experiences that I create and experiments that I build.

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