Tuesday News: AI & storytelling, the dangerous apology, 100 strangers write a book, and more bookish gifts
Spoiler Alert: Artificial Intelligence Can Predict How Scenes Will Play Out – Although still at a very early stage, this technology is a step forward in the ability for machines to predict how a scene will play out, which has implications for everything from automatic video tagging in Facebook to self-driving cars. There are also potential implications for storytelling, although there’s an enormous leap from a 1 second video to a 90 minute film.
Humans intuitively understand how the world works, which makes it easier for people, as opposed to machines, to envision how a scene will play out. But objects in a still image could move and interact in a multitude of different ways, making it very hard for machines to accomplish this feat, the researchers said. But a new, so-called deep-learning system was able to trick humans 20 per cent of the time when compared to real footage. . . .
“Our algorithm can generate a reasonably realistic video of what it thinks the future will look like, which shows that it understands at some level what is happening in the present,” said Carl Vondrick, a Ph.D. student in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who led the research. “Our work is an encouraging development in suggesting that computer scientists can imbue machines with much more advanced situational understanding.” – Scientific American
Media Organizations (Correctly) Worry That Rolling Stone Verdict Will Make Saying Sorry Actionable – The Rolling Stone UVA story continues to reverberate with terrible consequences, this time in the defamation suit against the magazine, which was brought by former UVA Associate Dean Nicole Eramo. Rolling Stone‘s loss for apologizing and admitting their mistakes may actually discourage media outlets from correcting bad reporting. Of course, discouraging reckless reporting is extremely important, and the UVA story was a mess on many levels, but the verdict against Rolling Stone may end up backfiring.
But as some quickly pointed out, the verdict could have some serious chilling effects on media organizations — in part because the jury found that the originally updated version of the story — as the details reported began to crumble — and which included an editor’s note apologizing for problems with the original reporting, was viewed by the jury as a republication, and, even worse, it was that “republication” that met the “actual malice” standpoint needed to get over the defamation bar.
This is problematic.
It was the original reporting that was bad. The apology was good. Yet, the way the jury ruled, Rolling Stone would have been better off not apologizing for the error and not adding the editor’s note to the story. That seems crazy. And thus, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and eight big media organizations (including the Washington Post, who was the publication that first exposed many of the problems in the Rolling Stone article) have filed an amicus brief with the court raising this issue (found via Eriq Gardner’s excellent reporting at THREsq). – Techdirt
One Hundred San Francisco Strangers Just Wrote A Book Together – So what’s the difference between 100 strangers writing 100 separate pages of a “book” and a computer predicting how a story will proceed? Obviously there are many differences, but both raise questions about the nature of storytelling and narrative predictability. Actually, this particular project also raises the question of what constitutes a book, one that even the creator calls “weird.” You can read all 100 pages online via the link above.
“The idea was to create a book written by strangers and see if words could connect them,” Hampus Elfström, the person behind the project, explains. “I asked 100 strangers in San Francisco to jot down something relatable to the previous page. Finally, people who never met each other wrote a book together.” – SFist
22 Affordable Gifts for Readers – I am still fascinated by the very first gift, literary candles:
It’s not what you think—these won’t make your home smell like a library (though, that would be amazing). Instead, candle-maker and English major Callie Meaney has created soy candles that mimic the scents and scenes from some of the most famous classic novels, including Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, and Sherlock Holmes.Wondering what Sherlock Holmes’ 221B Baker Street apartment would smell like? Meaney thinks a combination of black currant tea and leather books would make Sherlock feel at home. Any bibliophile can light one on a rainy afternoon for a quiet day at home with her favorite novel. – Real Simple