Futurism recently covered a “tech guy” on Twitter saying something to the effect of books would be eventually replaced by AI-conglomerate fine-tuned entity-dealies called “thunks” that could auto-generate books.
“Thunks” is not the greatest name ever for this phenomenon. I might connect this more to the idea of the underlying hypercanvas, the landscape of choices recorded together as a creative set by an artist.
Rather than publish books, Wang predicted, humanity will soon begin to publish inventions dubbed “thunks,” which he describes as “nuggets of thought that can interact with the ‘reader’ in a dynamic and multimedia way.”
“There can still be a classic linear ‘passive read mode,'” the developer added, “but that can be autogenerated based on the recipient’s level of existing context and knowledge.”
I wrote this in my Newsweek piece earlier this year:
I envision also a future where AI-assisted storytelling becomes the norm, and readers transform into co-creators, as AI enables authors and readers to generate highly specific content rapidly on demand.
I’ve been on this train of “thunks” for quite some time with my books, that they could themselves be used to train AIs on this specific worldbuilding & legendarium, and the AI could be queried for specifics, referencing correctly across many volumes, correlating correspondances, pointing out inconsistencies. Then conceivably interacting with characters and moments within the storyworlds through multimodal interactions.
It doesn’t sound so crazy to me, having been where I’ve been the last couple years working at the edges of technology and storytelling using AI.
I don’t find Futurism’s takes to be all that insightful, and this time is no exception. As the author writes, panning this concept:
In other words? It seems that according to Wang, gone are the days of humanity expressing its creativity, engaging in the quest for understanding, and fulfilling our need to catalog our existence through the thousands-year-old tradition of literature. Instead, all we’ll do is think a little thunk, and allow AI to generate a multimedia choose-your-own-adventure experience.
The hypercanvas is a contiguous extension of and continuation of “literature” in that literature has always been embedded in storytelling across all modalities. “Humanity expressing its creativity” will always and should always expand to include all possible tools and approaches. Because that’s what we are as a culture. Seekers, explorers, tool users, trying to make the outer like the inner. Exercising our imagination and will in the cold light of day.
Continue the tradition in whatever way you care to, makes the most sense to you as an artist. If that involves a “thunk,” and you’ve got something genuinely new, and interesting, true, and truly “you,” why is that something worth pandering right out of the gate? I don’t think it is, personally.