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Co-writing vs Tool

kobieta's picture
Despite the many things to talk about and think over on the topic of graphic novels and spacetime and panels, I find myself recalling the discussion from the beginning of class on Thursday about co-writing. Froggies315 and KT were convinced that computers were mere tools, contrary to what Kathleen Fitzpatrick argues. While I don't necessarily agree with Fitzpatrick, I can't define computers as mere tools either. Perhaps, a better way to restate Fitzpatrick's argument would be to say that computers are the scribes, the translators of our ideas into a different medium.  Because, although computers can be controlled, our demands don't always manipulate them into how we want them to; there are times when we fail to give the proper command and the computer "thinks" for itself, as was the case with ayla's picture of the board. It's not a tool, because it's not something we canfully manipulate; but a language we have to be literate in, to be able to input an idea, and have an output of a different medium. The computer makes us do work, by burdening the user of the responsibility of learning its language in order to fully utilise it. Because of this, it's not simply a tool. At the same time, it cannot be a co-writer either because it didn't have any input of ideas. For me, I guess, the distinction between writer and a tool ( maybe an aid is a better word) is not intent but thought. Since the computer is merely putting what you wrote on a different platform, it is not co-writing. It's just a translator.


dglasser's picture

To Translate Requires Artistry: Do Computers Have It?

Using the word translator to describe computers is perfect in my opinion. Human translators act as filters, since languages never match 100%, and the skill necessary to craft logical sentences and lessen cultural divides is substantial. I feel computers do the same thing, they act as a way to lessen the gaps between peoples and to filter languages in an appropriate way for each reader or viewer. There is also a quality of art that goes into translating. For instance, Russian authors such as Isaac Babel wrote obviously in Russian. His style was poetic in my opinion, and very delicately composed. To translate a work like that takes artistry. Therefore, I feel computers need an artistic quality to successfully work as translators. This begs the questions, how can a computer have artistry? Isn’t the program designer the artistic one, and not the computer itself? If that’s the case, then the translator is the human designer, nut the machine. However I feel computers have the ability to be artistic and creative and therefore have the skills necessary to translate.

This issue of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is highly debated, not just in academia, but everywhere. Movies like the Matrix, AI, and I Robot all question the ability of technology to think for itself. This issue is serious as we go further and further into the modern age, and test the definition of humanity. One woman who I read recently for a different class, named Margaret Boden specializes in AI. Her article, Creativity: How Does it Work? speaks to the issue of creativity in technology, and the ability a machine has to think for itself, and therefore it’s ability to artistically act as a translator. She describes that computers are able to be creative beyond what their programmers have laid out in their design. She suggests, that computers are in fact creative and can tweak their programming on their own. She doesn’t suggest that computers are capable of radical stylistic change, but that they can tweak conventions in a novel way. For example, she wouldn’t say that computers can create the next genre of music, but she would suggest that through base programming, computers can tweak already established musical rhythms and conventions and create novel, valuable and artistic progressions in prevoiously established musical styles. This suggests that computers are intelligent and are capable of co-writing as Fitzpatrick suggests. Boden takes it even further than Fitzpatrick, to suggest that computers can not only co-write, but can write.

This issue is still highly debated of course, and no doubt technolgy will only become more advanced over time. Let’s just hope none of the movies listed above come to pass.