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Back To Life: Departed Authors Meet (And Argue) Via Artificial Intelligence

Some of the world’s most brilliant authors get to meet up and – of course – debate the rise of AI

Traditionally we’ve had to rely on famous artists’ works in music, art, film, writing and more in order to immortalise them. Now – thanks to the advent of technology in virtual reality and AI – increasingly, it’s possible to not only remember their work, but make us believe that they never actually went away at all…

From holographic concert performances to digital characters in movies, it seems that we if we don’t want to let them go, then we can hold onto them forever. And now students at Oxford Union have decided that some of the world’s most brilliant authors who have passed deserve resurrection as well.

Using artificial intelligence, four deceased writers have been brought back to life: Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. 

Creating AI personalities from previous works

Each of the deceased author’s AI was designed to speak exactly like their original counterparts once did, or at least how many interpret them. For instance, Churchill’s digital resurrection spoke exactly like he did through speeches and interviews, while AI Shakespeare ‘spake’ in ye-olde iambic pentameter…

And what do you do when you’ve resurrected some of the finest minds the world has ever known? You get them to have an argument!

Famous for its debating battles the most recent Oxford Union debate tasked the writers with tackling the motion that ”most of the world’s content will soon be created by AI.” Discuss…

According to The Times, the historic writers discussed the situation with rather wild — not Wilde, although his AI did compete — manner. Shakespeare’s AI poetically claimed: “We’ll all be free to do the things we love / And leave the dreary work to be done by glove.” This means that humanity will be able to do whatever it wants while AI gets on with the tough stuff. Sounds good to us.

Winston Churchill’s AI on the other hand, was said to be the most convincing amongst the four. The digital incarnation of the departed Prime Minister spoke as if launching into another legendary speech: “My fellow citizens, I stand before you today to talk about a grave threat to our society. I’m talking about the threat of artificial intelligence . . . We must resist this threat. We must fight back. We must stand up for our right to think for ourselves. We must defend our right to control our own minds.”

Oscar Wilde’s contribution to the debate was a real treat as the AI created a new scene from The Importance of Being Earnest to discuss the motion. It reads:

Lady Bracknell: I really cannot see what you are all making such a fuss about. It is perfectly simple. The world’s content will soon be created by AI and there is nothing that can be done about it.

Gwendolyn: But Mama, you cannot be serious!”

The datasets for Churchill, Austen, Shakespeare and Wilde were based on their published works and historical speeches, not their everyday speech, which goes someway to the outrageous show-boating on board.

Can’t wait for round two…

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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