This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

January 3, 2018

Predictable Humans and Co-creating Machines

For many years now music producers have used digitally generated notes and voices to create music. MOOG was the first and other manufacturers followed.

A film created by artificial intelligence
In 2016, at the SCI-FI LONDON film festival, a film called Sunspring debuted. The film's screenplay was created by an artificial-intelligence (AI) bot. Described as "amusing, but strange", this dystopian view of the future attracted many fans. That said, the film's dialogue has been described as "a random series of unrelated sentences" and one of the characters, for seemingly no reason, coughs up an eyeball. Clearly, we have not yet reached the point where machines can write perfect screenplays. However, perhaps AI can be used to augment human abilities?

Computers support humans in many ways
We currently use computers to augment human abilities in many different areas. From bookkeeping to medicine to smart homes, we use technology to support our work, our health, and our wellbeing. Having AI help write plays may just be the next step.

Emotional arcs are the backbones of stories
Recently, the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) looked at whether it was possible for humans to collaborate with machines in telling stories on video. The team investigated the possibility of the software identifying common emotional arcs in video stories, changes of fortune, failures, or triumphs that would create human emotional responses. Using the machines, the storytellers could tell how the audience would respond.

Machine-learning models
The McKinsey Team actually worked with the MIT folks to take the research even farther: they developed machine-learning models that relied on deep neural networks. The machines "watched" small slices of video, including movies, TV, and short online features, and estimated their positive or negative emotional content by the second. Thus, the machine-learning models were able to determine those important emotional arcs by themselves.

Enhancing human stories
Skilled storytellers take us on a journey; their accounts engender emotional responses of joy, anger, sadness, or calm and they tune into their audiences well. Imagine breakthrough technology that can take those wonderful narratives to the next level by supercharging tales to increase their impact?

Expect more collaborations to . . .
We have only begun to see how machines can collaborate with humans---especially in the emotional realm. Expect to see machines enhance the work of humans in storytelling, screenwriting, and elsewhere.

Special thanks to McKinsey's Eric Chu, Jonathan Dunn, Deb Roy, Geoffrey Sands, and Russell Stevens for their effective coverage of this important topic.

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