The Future of Books and A.I.

One of the most distinct advantages of written communication, particularly the book format, is that it contains a large amount of cohesive information on a subject in a form that can be transported from place to place and person to person. This collecting and sharing of ideas is the essence of communication as we know it.

The technological advances in written and other print communication implemented to date, such as the World Wide Web and e-books, have ushered in an era of practically boundless knowledge in which a large percent of the human population has access to every topic imaginable. One can only speculate as to the next step in this evolution of collected literature and the progress of books, in particular.

While the printing press revolutionized the sharing of print media, the advent of the digital age has made printed materials less necessary for the conveyance of ideas and information. Certainly, there are still circumstances in which a physical book is preferable to a digital book, as any bibliophile and student can attest; but the progression away from print media in these modern times is undeniable. As to the future of communication, we must look at current trends in research to find what form a book might take next.

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One prominent investment firm based in Zurich, Switzerland, UBS, has joined the many voices of investors worldwide who argue that AI, or artificial intelligence, is the next wave of the future. A web article UBS states succinctly that “the Internet, above all, has shaped more aspects of society across civilizations than any single invention of the past,” and that our most recent evolution in communication has taken us from “penning letters to loved ones to having awkward conversations with Siri.” UBS predicts that, “AI will become a massive sector that unleashes a torrent of financial opportunities” which will prove to be irresistible to governments and businesses due to its “unparalleled technological power.” Even in its first forms, AI contributes to the sharing of ideas in ways most of us take for granted.

book-covers (1)
Figure 1: This image depicts a writer’s accurate prediction from 2016 that AI would be designing e-book covers; from goodereader.com.

Another website, Career Authors, is managed by a former Senior Editor at Penguin Random House and a Digital Strategist. Their vision of the future includes AI as it pertains to books and publishing, specifically. One article on the site likens AI to a high definition version of text-to-speech, in which language translations with human quality voices generated by artificial intelligence are delivered, made possible by the interpretive and self-teaching nature of AI. The author points to its capacity for self-improvement, citing improvements evidenced in “the current version of Facebook’s translations” which is now astonishingly “11% more accurate than its prior version from months ago.” More importantly, this literary technology is realistic in terms of realization in most industries as it does not require a human worker and is therefore “effectively free because of AI.”

The actual appearance and form that this technology in visual communication will take is under much speculation. While much of our data is virtually intangible, humankind exists in a very physical state; therefore, physical objects, such as books and e-reader tablets, will remain necessary for the sharing of ideas and information. While these future books may include clickable icons to relevant internet resources and animated/interactive media, the book, itself, still fulfills its original purpose in literature, namely, providing a means of collecting ideas which reflect our understanding of our world.

Pro Writing Aid article link
Click to read an in-depth article on AI and books from Pro Writing Aid.

Special Thanks To:

“A New Dawn.” UBS, UBS Online, 2018, www.ubs.com/microsites/artificial-intelligence/en/new-dawn.html.

Kozlowski, Michael. “AI Will Soon Be Able to Design E-Book Covers.” Image. Good E-Reader, Good E-Reader, 9 Nov. 2016, http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/ai-will-soon-be-able-to-design-e-book-covers.

Miller, Glenn. “Your Novel’s Future: How AI Will Bring Your Book to the World.” Career Authors, 10 Nov. 2017, http://careerauthors.com/ai-changes-future-books/.

 

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