Artificial Intelligence And The Future Of Publishing

Dec 8, 2018

Did you know that machines can learn very much like humans?

Well, they still need us to program them initially, but it probably won’t be long before they can program themselves. And where will that leave us?

Luckily, that’s not the type of AI we’re talking about today. We’re talking about something that’s fast approaching, the use of AI for reading, writing, editing, and finding books.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, there’s a button the right side of the website to make it easy!  Or, just click here.

Episode Links:

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As always, below is a direct copy of the show notes. They were written before the episode was recorded and are unedited but are here for reference and SEO.

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Meet The Host

Jeremy is the Founder and Lead Publisher of Steam Powered Dreams. He has worked for many years to create a place for writers in all parts of their career to find useful information and avoid being taken advantage of.

Topic: How Advancements In AI Will Change The Way We Write, Read, and Publish

  • Robots, algorithms and artificial intelligence run everything around us.
  • We rely on them to wake us up in the morning, get us where we need to go, and even do our job for us.
  • Yet, the publishing industry has been mostly untouched by this artificial intelligence, right?
  • Wrong. In fact, AI is becoming more and more important for publishing and will only continue to change the way we read and write.
  • At least until the inevitable robot uprising comes.
  • Steam Powered Dreams has an exciting announcement!
  • We’re doing an early run of specialty t-shirts for writers! We’re starting small, with 3 designs available around January, but the plan is to eventually expand to book and author quotes, as well as other gear like totes, mugs, and more.
  • Also, we’re running a survey to help us research writers habits. If you’d like to be part of it, just go to steampowereddreams.com/writersurvey to add your name to the list.
  • That’s about all I have to share right now, but we have some big announcements coming up next month, so stay tuned for those!
  • The future of Barnes and Noble is back up in the air as the deal with WH Smith fell through. https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardkestenbaum/2018/11/07/barnes-and-noble-amazon-wh-smith-acquisition/
  • Dutton, a Penguin Random House imprint, has just released its first batch of mini books, with a box set of novels by the best-selling author John Green. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/business/mini-books-pocket-john-green.html
  • When you think of artificial intelligence or AI, you probably envision some science fiction world where machines can do pretty much everything, but the reality is both a simple and exciting.
  • When it comes to AI and technology, many times the old saying is true, Reality is stranger than fiction.
  • Just a quick warning. This episode is going to get a bit technical, but understanding how this technology will help shape the future for writers and readers is important.
  • As a whole, we have seen amazing advancements over the past 40 years, from the creation of the internet to a world where everything is connected almost all the time.
  • We have machines that can not only play games of strategy such as chess but win against the world champions. The most recent of these AI chess-playing machines is named AlphaZero by Google and it wasn’t taught how to play, but instead learned how to play without human aid.
  • Oh, and did I mention it’s also a master Go and Shogi player?
  • The concept of a machine learning can seem strange, but the truth is it’s not too far-fetched if you understand the basics of machine learning.
  • Of course, even a full podcast dedicated to machine learning wouldn’t cover everything, just know that these machines learn by asking hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of yes or no questions in an instant. It then records this data and recalls it as needed. If what it recalls is not correct, or not good enough such as in a chess move, it goes through the process again and looks for another, better way.
  • How does this relate to you as an authorpreneur? It actually touches every single part of the process, but we’re going to focus on three main aspects in this episode: Editing, audiobooks, and algorithms.
  • If you’ve ever used programs like Grammarly then you’ve already had some experience with a computer “reading” and analyzing your writing. While this is a rudimentary use of AI, it still looks at the words, the order of those words, and a bit of the context around the words and gives you feedback based on this.
  • But, imagine an AI that can actually analyze and understand not just a word or sentence, but entire paragraphs, chapters, or books. That’s exactly what Google is doing with their Google Natural Langauge program.
  • So far, it’s been able to start to reveal the structure and meaning of a text. It actually can understand people, places, and events and how they relate together. It can offer suggestions on related texts without the use of human-inputted keywords, but more on that in a bit.
  • This process has the potential to change the way the editing process goes. Right now, the standard process is to self-edit, developmental edit or get beta readers, revise, copyedit, and done.
  • What Google’s AI has the potential to do is eliminate the need for a lot of the technical side to this, such as syntax, grammar, and sentence structure. While self-editing will always be important for the story, there may come a time when you can put your manuscript through an AI and it comes out with perfect grammar and syntax. While still far off, this could even replace copy editors altogether.
  • The one thing AI does not have, and may never develop, is emotional awareness. While AI can understand context and surroundings, there’s no way to program emotion and build a true connection with readers.
  • But, that doesn’t mean it can’t mimic the emotions you’re trying to convey out loud.
  • If you’ve been able to experience Google’s recent upgraded voice algorithms you’ll know that they are very lifelike. Ask Google a question on the Google Home and you’ll get a response in such a way that you almost feel like you’re talking to a person.
  • Not only that, but the update earlier this year made it possible to have a conversation, instead of just giving it commands.
  • Just ask Google Home to tell you a joke or a riddle and you’ll quickly understand where I’m going with this.
  • Google’s AI uses speech inflection, pauses, and more to mimic the sound of a human. While it’s not perfect, it’s come a long way in a short period of time.
  • Combine that with the Natural Language AI and the Real Time Translation AI, we will soon be seeing stories being read and translated, even complete novels, without a single human lifting a finger.
  • This may or may not excite you, and you may also be wondering about all those amazingly talented audiobook narrator.
  • Having an AI with the ability to naturally read a book won’t put them out of business. It goes back to the emotion and polish that AI just doesn’t have, and won’t have for the foreseeable future.
  • There will still be demand for high-quality, human-voiced books, just as there is still a demand for hardcovers despite them costing sometimes 10x more than an eBook.
  • What the future will actually hold for audiobooks is yet to be seen, though I am confident in saying we’ll start seeing AI recorded audiobooks in the next few years.
  • But, another aspect of using machine learning can be found on pretty much every book-related site out there, algorithms.
  • In fact, it’s not just book-related sites that use them, most of the internet does in one way or another.
  • Google Search is a perfect example of a very complex, yet still relatively rudimentary, machine learning algorithm. You put in a search term and you get a list of hundreds of thousands of pages back.
  • Google does this by sending their little robots to scan each and every page, seeing if it can determine what it’s about and if it has any value.
  • If it does, it goes to the top, and if it doesn’t, it goes to the bottom.
  • While Google’s search algorithm has come a long way from requiring websites to give keywords, it is only beginning to learn what it’s actually scanning, rather than just picking up on the words on the page.
  • Amazon is another example, and one more close to home for us.
  • We put our books up, pick a few categories, and the recommendation algorithms start to kick in. The more people who buy our books, the more the “also bought” algorithm works.
  • In theory, this sounds great. You most likely want to read more books like the ones you’ve bought, and readers can find your book based on the books they have read.
  • However, you’ll often see off-the-wall recommendations because the algorithm doesn’t understand what the books are about, only that there was a correlation, even if only a small one.
  • Have you ever bought a book as a gift and then soon after your recommendations were full of other, similar books? That may have been the only Science Fiction Romance involving inter-species relationships you had ever purchased, but now Amazon thinks that’s all you want.
  • OKay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Much like Google, Amazon’s algorithm is always getting better and cases such as the one I just mentioned are becoming more infrequent.
  • But a fully realized machine learning AI will change the way we search and the results we get back. Because it will not only see keywords and see your purchase history, but deeply understand what a book is about, it’ll be able to give real recommendations to you, and avoid that awkward moment when you open up Amazon in public to a page of Alien Erotica for all to see.
  • Unless that’s your thing, then share it with the world!
  • But maybe more than that, these advancements will be able to get your books into the hands of those who really want them.
  • Of course, Google isn’t the only one working on true machine learning AI for algorithms. There are other websites and services that offer early versions of more advanced systems, but Google and Amazon are sure to be ahead of the game, even if it isn’t apparent to us yet.
  • Whether you’re excited for AI or worried that it’ll be our downfall, machines that learn similar to humans are here and they’ll only get smarter.
  • I for one am excited for a time when I can pick up a book in any language and have it translated in real time and read to me.
  • Who knows, maybe one day we won’t even need to type anymore. We’ll just have a conversation with an AI and it’ll put those thoughts into coherent, meaningful sentences to complete our manuscript!
  • If you have questions, there are two ways to reach me.  The first is through the website at steampowereddreams.com/authorpreneurmindset and then click on Ask A Question.
  • The second is to join our facebook group at facebook.com/SPDwritershelpingwriters
  • Where to find me:
    • The website is at steampowereddreams.com/authorpreneurmindset
    • you can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/jeremylcollier
    • on Twitter at SoulScribbler,
    • and finally on Instagram at authorpreneurmindset
  • Until next week, I am your host Jeremy and don’t forget to keep moving forward.

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