So, the Washington Post reported today that the “next hot Silicon Valley job” is for poets (and other writers).
As tech behemoths and a wave of start-ups double down on virtual assistants that can chat with human beings, writing for AI is becoming a hot job in Silicon Valley. Behind Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are not just software engineers. Increasingly, there are poets, comedians, fiction writers, and other artistic types charged with engineering the personalities for a fast-growing crop of artificial intelligence tools.
Because this wave of technology is distinguished by the ability to chat, writers for AI must focus on making the conversation feel natural. Designers for Amazon’s Alexa have built humanizing “hmms” and “ums” into her responses to questions. Apple’s Siri assistant is known for her wry jokes, as well as her ability to beatbox upon request.
As in fiction, the AI writers for virtual assistants dream up a life story for their bots. Writers for medical and productivity apps make character decisions such as whether bots should be workaholics, eager beavers or self-effacing. “You have to develop an entire backstory — even if you never use it,” Ewing said.
Yes, that’s right. You too could be using what you learned in law school to help build AI legal assistants, possibly even crafted after famous trial lawyers or jurists, or some obsequious law clerk you knew back at school. But writing this stuff doesn’t come naturally, no you’ll need courses that are at the intersection of humans, law, and artificial intelligence like:
- AI 101: The Basics of Dialog
- AI 201: How to Talk Like a Lawyer
- AI 102: The Basics of Humor
- AI 202: Bawdy Legal Jokes
- AI 103: Understanding Legal Terminology
- AI 203: How to Write Law in Plain English
Soon there will law school tracks dedicated to teaching us how to write for virtual legal assistants, and I for one welcome our robot overlords.