I thought this subject might be interesting to blog about and then a remote hard drive crashed today and having lost a lot of material, some not very important, it seemed more pertinent because machines, software, not to mention consumer hardware, are central to everyday life.

A big theme now is what happens when machines take over work: the humdrum being done by capital equipment. There is a lot said about how this will transform work and the ramifications to people; even to the effects on certain industries.

In the commentary, publishing and writing have not had much focus, though it’s said journalism is threatened, talk to any freelancer and that is evident, news agencies scan releases and issue a new text

In the book business and the fiction trade, in which I have some direct interest, it seems more nebulous, at least for now. The idea of a machine reading submissions and using Gaussian algorithms to evaluate texts in terms of plot, character and then rank potential markets based on historical trends and data is dystopian.

It’s a horror scenario, and similar to one in The Black Swan, in the pseudo story of the bestseller which underpins Taleb’s psychological rendering of a black swan, to illustrate how thinking can be set on railway tracks.

This psychological dimension is not the same as black swans in logic. I spent a year deep in logical propositions and black swans were common, but that distinction aside, the trap of applying principles with machines to industrialize the process is troublesome. Artistic works are not always identical with shelf products.

If and when machines do become part of publishing they may just do the grunt work; processing, not analyzing; ensuring efficiency reigns supreme, not deciding on the fall list.

©Copyright Guy Cranswick 2015. All Rights Reserved.


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