May 31, 2021

6: Robot Writers


This time out, we talk about our "work in progress" and then touch upon important issues such as houmous on nipples, one of us being a better director than George Lucas and take the challenge to see if we can tell the difference between things written by us or by a super smart AI computer. Thanks for listening.
 
 
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Music by Dano Songs
 
 

Transcript

should we do should we like start the podcast yeah let's start yes let's begin

you're listening to the frightening waiters part they are smudged split my t on it earlier i think it might say failing writers yeah i'll go with that you're listening to the failing reuters podcast or whatever we've already established off mike that we're all well haven't we have we don't need to run through that again yeah so let's let's get straight in there we've all told each other what we had for lunch um yeah again that's that's not good in the podcast doesn't it people don't care about that so we should we we should fulfill a promise that we made shouldn't we i mean no we could just skip over it and not bother couldn't we yeah we could skip over that no but i do no i do think that the first question we should ask is what have you written this week will you two crack on for about i'll i'll i'll back in uh what five minutes and then yeah john what have you written this week oh what haven't i written let me rephrase that john have you written this week do you know let me no let me rephrase that john do you remember what writing is come on let's start with the basics

okay so i haven't actually sat at my laptop and written anything but i've got some very exciting news do you remember me talking about uh uh me and katie's little pipe dream about touring the edinburgh show two-handed show maybe taking it to adam yeah before we hit our 50 uh well we've started working on it oh i think we've i think we've had what uh what might be even quite a nice idea excellent we started mulling it over on dog walks and jotting stuff down in a little notebook that kind of writing and researching old-fashioned researching yeah yeah yeah and it's had a very nice effect i think it's actually uh i think it's revitalizing our marriage yeah it's quite you've you've cast quite a romantic image there john you and your wife just throwing through the fields with the dog talking and writing notes it genuinely has been lovely working on a little mutual project i mean what dave what's probably happened we're having this romantic image of it it's probably john with a notepad katie with a bag picking up dog poo and jungle but if you're in that i'm writing that down what what you really do i haven't written it down busy picking up poo do you know what the actual reality was it was quite sweet really but i i noticed katie looking very slightly knarked the other day after i'd spent ages working on podcast stuff and she didn't say anything she didn't have to no she didn't have to yes but you know you know the look that i'm talking about and when i asked her if she was okay she admitted that she was a little bit envious that i had a creative project to sink my teeth into and that i was clearly you know enjoying it and uh and she didn't have anything like that and she was like i'm creatively dying inside good i need to do something yeah so it sort of all stemmed from that and we uh cool story cool story so you've not done any writing

i know we i think we've got a good idea so yeah we have that's great

we have a task lined up in future that we've discussed already that we've previously recorded and i think i'm going to use that for that task if you guys know what i'm talking about the listeners have no idea but um

i've given it away yeah yeah discussion after beth's uh beth's interview right but that's one for the future listeners that's brilliant that is literally one for listeners in three or four weeks time you're going to be like

so that's yeah that's that's mine what about well done john well that's good yeah new ideas that is exciting isn't it and is there before we're 50 deadline is that still is that there is that that's that's still there i mean it i think we could do it it helps that we've actually started on it how far along the journey did you have to be by the time you're 50. like you have started writing finished writing not you ready you've got to be there performing it right and tickets will be available um via our twitter stream at failing right yes um before the performance they probably will be to be fair probably but not just yet but probably can we take advanced bookings now or anything or we probably is it is it a little bit too soon for that yeah i think availability is fairly good still i think this is still alright so um

this could be a massive hit show but yeah exactly yeah by the time this hits edinburgh is i mean sellout yeah yep we can charge what we want the tickets what about you dave well um i have actually been doing some writing i i think i'm finally i might be getting near the end of the spooky war book um so i've i've gone i'm past 50 000 words um i think there's about three or four chapters left um the ghosts have finally arrived people are dying all over the shop so yes it's all getting exciting i think the ghosts are dying not again

yeah so it's just like the the really sort of exciting part of the book is it's happening yeah so that's that's that's been quite uh quite good i feel like i'm finally getting somewhere and is the conclusion of the book set in your mind in terms of the idea for it or you kind of yes yeah so the end is the end is um has has been sort of set for quite a while it's just right you know what you're trying to get into yes it's trying is it your dad's original end yes well yes and no i've just it's the original ending but with an extra character thrown in for good measure right um so we've got to try and shoehorn this character into the to the existing bit but uh seamlessly yeah exactly no one will ever know fantastic but yeah so like two of two of the main characters i've i've killed them in the last week which felt quite satisfying and now the the ghosts have come back to avenge them um so yeah it's it's actually feeling feeling pretty good i'm trying to sort of uh uh take on a bit of advice not to not to rush the end i think it's quite easy when you get near the end of something and it feels quite exciting to just sort of entirely yeah yeah i'm trying to sort of hold it off keep teasing it for a while and yeah how much time a day are you spending on it and how have you got the time that's the thing i don't know how have you had the time i've just it's literally been uh forcing myself to fit it in wherever possible um we've had we've had so many things haven't we talking about just getting through it getting it done so i've tried to put everything that we've learned and talked about over the last few weeks into practice and just any spare bit of time i know that's mad isn't it but any spare bit of time just do something and not worry about it too much just get stuff down there um especially that 10 minutes before we have to go and do something exactly really yeah those are the those that's the key moments of the day um so yeah that's um it feels quite exciting i'm looking forward to finishing it and then i can start something else and not finish that yeah so yeah what is your next project dave is it going to be the finishing the uh the sitcom the chemist or you got something else i've got something else in mind um that i've i had quite an exciting idea uh about what recently uh it was a little while ago now and i got really excited about it and then i thought oh i need to finish these other things first um and that excitement has waned a bit but i do think if it's quite can you tell us anything about the idea or is it yeah no it's not secret it's um so to to outline it uh we've talked before about the fact that i've written loads of sketches over the years and never really done anything with them for a long time i've wanted to do uh a sort of narrative sketch show no i think the best example of that is the league of gentlemen yes basically a sketch show but it's all tied together with this same sort of thread and they did it so well that no that was it this second series where they did it like it was just ridiculously well yeah yeah the so the third series was where they had each episode was like focused on one thing and then it was all time sorry yes third series yeah yeah um i remember coming out of the back of that and just thinking so clever wasn't it just the writing in that the the oh and i don't think anyone else has ever done anything that good in terms of like stringing essentially a sketch show together with that narrative uh thingy and i heard a show called uh the sink um on bbc sounds recently which was really really good and that was kind of a narrative sketchup as well and it sort of got me thinking about doing that so i i thought of an idea of how to um how to write sort of narrative stories sort of laced with sketches then i had another idea about how to sort of self-produce that and try to get it into a load of radio stations um so there's this thing called the audio content fund i think it is um and it's a load of money's been set aside to help produce audio content for radio stations and it's available for sort of independent producers but you have to have an agreement with a radio station or a group of radio stations that they will broadcast it once it's made and then you can apply for funding to get it made to get it out there um and i had this idea um we don't have to necessarily put this in the show but i had this idea of like um going to radio stations with the with the idea of of them running a competition so i would write the sort of the narrative story but i would need a lot of sketches to fill it up so we could do a competition on air for people to send in their sketches um and the sort of the winners the best ones would end up in the show would be sort of tied into this narrative and then it would be broadcast on that radio station so i thought that was a that was a good way of like fulfilling the criteria of the audio content funds brief to sort of encourage new writers and all that sort of yeah but you'd have the very tricky task of trying to sew them all together somehow yeah so but yeah so um yes so it might be a little bit tricky but i think the sort of bare bones of the story is already kind of there um it's just the way to sort of tell it with these sketches um yeah so like the the the idea is kind of there but that's the next thing that i want to work on really sounds big that davey sounds great yeah it is quite a big intimidating project mm-hmm i don't entirely know how it would work i say that's the exciting bit it's really exciting as well you're trying to join the dots and then something clicks and you go oh god yeah yeah yeah that should go in there and that should be yeah and it's something that i've had quite a few moments where i thought oh this this is actually really exciting i'd love to work on this yeah yeah and if you could yeah if you're pulling other people into the project as well and you're getting to meet people exactly it's a big collaborative effort it would take lots of people to do it yeah um and lots of people means lots of social media yeah lots of hours as well as well i'm starting to go off the idea

yeah it's a big it's a big grand project and i don't know if i'll ever be able to actually do it but it's good to have a dream isn't it it's good for episode 376 of the failing writers podcast to see how dave gets on dave's got a title dave can talk us through how it all went wrong that does sound very exciting bad well it's good to have a dream isn't it you know

sensible i think sometimes as well when you have these ideas and then you forget about it for a bit and then you have the same idea and forget about it for a bit and it comes up again you start thinking there's something this is a good idea yeah it must be yeah yeah yeah it kind of keeps just nagging at you yeah either that or someone else has the idea in the meantime you go oh bollocks i bloody thought of that or i'm incapable of thinking up any other ideas so i just keep having the same one over and over again and what i like to do is just tell people about the idea that i had down at the pub and how i had that idea first but someone else went and did it i once went to um see greg's the bakers as a client did you go and say i've had this idea it's called a sausage roll someone's already done it i said uh i've no idea why when you've got when you send out all your sausage rolls frozen to your bakeries why on earth have you not found a supermarket to sell them through and then shortly after they started selling sausage rolls in frozen sections of supermarkets so you do the math what did you get for that tommy what did you get for that idea nothing nothing not even a sausage or not even a steak

yeah anyway gutted so tommy have you written anything in the last five minutes tom it sounded like you had something exciting to tell us oh the other day what i'm saying yeah well i've been i've been shying away from actually writing writing and so when i've thought oh god i could do some writing now i thought yeah i'll just do some editing so i've been editing uh going through my silly little pastiche sales book and i was trying to think of ways of uh getting it out there and i think i've probably come to the conclusion that i am going to self-publish it and just kind of do that and actually get it out there that's a good idea brilliant and then i was thinking about ways of uh marketing it to make it a bit different to give it something so it's i mean it's written by this guy who is an absolute idiot stuck in the past complete bigot so i thought i might actually weave a bit of a story around that i'd been i was the ghost writer right the book was unable to be released because he refused to pay me for it because he thought he was so good in hebrew um so set up a twitter account yeah for him and then basically have him saying oh i've sat on my twitter uh can't publish my book because of this idiot um and then have him die in a freak accident or something at which point then legally i'm able to release the book but in a very negative way of saying well i wrote this this guy's an idiot but this is the only way i can get my money back for the work that i've put in yeah yeah basically he refused to pay me that's good for a second i thought you i thought you were going to say and i will step in as a sort of he can be my alter ego and you can dress like him and then start going to do uh sales conferences around britain yeah like a sort of uh i mean it had that had occurred to him as a character yeah no uh no he was just yes but i might do some tribute acts to him maybe maybe i could um come on as your warmer pact for the edinburgh yeah

a little mini salesman i like that what about that he's doing have you ever thought of doing it as an audio book tom i have actually i think it would work quite well as an audio book um yeah i've actually considered that um i would probably do that alongside self-publishing to be honest but yeah i think i've probably fallen into the vanity trap of of wanting a printed yeah tangible yeah book um just to put on my bookcase which is pathetic really in a way you might as well have both aren't you why not yeah why not yeah totally there's something there is something lovely about having an actual book isn't there i think you know what i think i was thinking about it psychologically for me to get anywhere in my writing i need to do something to put an end yeah to something yeah to finish something yeah yeah yeah yeah because at the moment i just feel like i've got all these like five or six different little things and there's a jeremy and there's a bit of a radio player that's half finished and there's the novel that's ticking along but not really do you mean it and yeah just yeah yeah right this is finished there's a that's all right well we've got interviews coming up with some people you should self-publish don't we so you could get some valuable hints and tips of how to do it yeah yeah i mean the more you look into it the more horrific it looks self-publishing yeah it's just uh pitfall after pitfall and aspect of the formatting after pairing yeah formatting but uh yeah all right still there must be there must be apps that do a lot of the formatting for you presumably well i think as we're probably about to learn later on in this episode i'm sure there's lots of computer ai that can do lots of things for you and slowly take over the world but i'm worried that they'll just steal my idea the robots will come around too much and yeah the money that they make from it will go towards funding the robot revolution last thing i want to see is me hooked up and trapped by robots watching some robot on jonathan ross talking about my book yes jonathan then i wrote this book all by myself without the help of a human oh yeah just your brain in a jar of sitting above his head he just pickled in a jar watching it oh the page i like to call it my silly little sales book tommy you should probably tell everybody what it's actually called so that people can look forward to it being published the two-hour sales bible by a a sales trainer sales guru self-confessed sales legend called chad nadworthy uh real name it's charles but he calls himself chad of course he does he does that's cool yeah charles bacon nadworthy um and uh yeah he's just he just offers all his insights from his years and years sales game yeah yeah yeah i very much look forward to reading that all the tips you need anyway i just think it's it's going back through editing it it is quite funny and um it is funny i just think anyone that's worked with sales people or a salesperson that's worked with arseholes yeah it just does john there's just some real like oh god yeah and it's it's kind of taken to the nth degree obviously um but i thought by claiming that he's died and admitting he's he's a bigot kind of shows that it is done in a pastiche way and it's taking the mick out yeah yeah yeah this way so rather because that was my worry that you know that people would actually be offended by some of it yeah um when in fact it is completely ripping the [ __ ] out of people that are that stupid yeah so if people don't like it then the author's already dead so it doesn't doesn't matter yeah exactly yeah yeah but that does also mean you can't write a sequel it does be careful it does i suppose you can bring him back from the dead i mean people do that don't they all the time yeah my sister might have won about something else once again we're getting ahead of ourselves here aren't we we're skipping skipping to the sequel before you've even formatted the original these things are important you're always thinking ahead they're not really though are they when you when you look at some of the things that came out first and the sequels are a bit different or they've just ignored the fact that that character existed yeah and life kind of goes on no one cares in the ground i think that's a great tip for life isn't it nobody cares no one actually cares don't just get on with it so anyway yeah so i feel like there's an element of uh whilst it feels cheating in a way because it's not putting in the hard yards writing a thousand words a day or whatever yep i've been tinkering away with it and actually uh yeah i think my project for the next two or three months should be finished yeah well finishing something gosh yes that's that's the thing i think there's actually a lot to be said for them you know we were talking about deadlines you're going to give yourself a deadline well i wasn't until you said that now i feel like i feel like i have to i think you should by the time john's 50. why not everything else that should be the deadline for everything do us a favor though tommy yeah like get get someone professional to design it i'm not saying that you're not a designer but you see so many that's like not brilliantly designed books yeah that's self-published that just look a bit crap because yeah yeah although you should please you can judge a book by its cover if the cover is really really bad i agree with that the awkward thing for this is that i will want to get it designed nicely and properly but it has to also look it has to look a little bit cheap as well yeah but that's the that's the craft isn't it yeah yes it looks really well designed to look a little bit so you you know exactly what it should look a little bit 80s yeah it needs to look stark on the front like pretty pretty tall i kind of need to find the embodiment of chad nadworthy uh for the photo on the cover i guess don't you yeah what what does he look like think about the physical characteristics speaking about artificial intelligence linking us all back in full circle i was thinking about that the other day looking online at the artificial intelligence creators that just create people that don't exist that's right but they look photographic yeah yeah so i'm just trying to people i'm just gonna create that model what's the name of that model um oh gosh i don't know but there's there's someone that's been used on the cover of like vogue magazines and all these things who doesn't exist like one of the world's top super models and she's completely created in uh ai isn't she i think yeah never heard of this or am i making it all up yeah no it's it's i think that's totally right there you go chad nadworthy coming at you charles bacon nadworthy oh god i've said that out loud now haven't i you've got to do it now this and the terrible thing about this stupid podcast i'm just looking forward to the day when i can sit on a train up to edinburgh reading your book going to see john and katie's play and thinking what have i done and john's 50 tomorrow anybody got a day left he could do write a script around that dave it's like one of these last minute race against the clock scenarios yeah all of a sudden you've got 24 hours to write direct to produce a play or something like that grabbing people off the street like challenge anika yeah yeah tell me your life story but no sometimes i do want i do wish would uh gone should we start a podcast and you both went yeah what's it about tom and i went eating really nice food that's what we do what's it about tom about the different ways you can have a bath and just relax and that's what we're focusing our energies into rather than stuff that actually is hard work yeah it'd probably be just as popular as well i would imagine all three of us in the bath together combine the two those three in a bath eating fancy food yeah yeah that's a great idea maybe that's our next one yes we just probably wouldn't want to meet any of the people who actually listened to that podcast but if they're willing to sit through a zoom uh trailer to see what's on the next week's episode then for me that already rules them out john robin hummus on his nipples

three men in a bath dave just carefully carefully scraping it off with a stick of celery

yeah anyway all right i think that's yeah i feel slightly bilious we'll call that a section move on join us after the break guys when we'll be a little bit more normal and we'll talk about some of this artificial intelligence

you're listening to the failing writers podcast please remember to subscribe and if it's not too much trouble leave an overly positive yet still believable review thanks

and we're back we should talk about artificial intelligence shouldn't we we should we should have some we should have some sort of intelligence on the show uh might as well be artificial so uh last week we veered off into the realms of submitting ourselves to our robot overlords and uh letting ai take the wheel and doing a bit of writing for yeah we said well what we'll do is we'll write a paragraph whack it in the machine and then uh compare and contrast against our own work of continuing the story yes we'll see if we can guess which is which

i'm the delta 5000 writing machine manufactured in korea click the big red button here on my screen and your novel will appear

i'm pre-loaded with a in your phd human psychology don't be scared i'm not here to take over i'll just have your house your kids your wife your brain and maybe your skoda

so that's the challenge isn't it so we read out the two versions of the story and then we have to guess which is real and which is artificial just have interest before we read them do you chaps uh think it's obvious no from a first read no do you know um i well i think maybe but then i don't know maybe it's just because i know what i wrote so i couldn't work it out i was like i mean if i couldn't tell if i couldn't tell which bit i wrote and which bit the robot wrote of my own that would be i mean i i put mine through the ringer a few times yeah i did a couple of just to see what it came up with as much as anything the first run was a couple of them yeah they were like the clip from that film we had last week where it was just like yeah random connections and then this one came up and it was like what so do you want to hear it do you want to hear it yes yes okay so um what did we give you give you spiders i was in the spy genre so i wrote a little bit in the biog bit that you had that you can put in to give it a bit more information about how this spy used to be a spy kind of quit the service you know the classic true up of his kind of you know yeah he's out he's out of the spy game but he's been drawn back into it yeah so and i called it beneath the mask so let me read the bit that i put in first the rain hit the sidewalk like the sweat dripping off a constipated donkey jack had seen this weather before he'd seen the taxis jostling through lower 48th street he'd seen the faceless people scampering for cover from the elements this was just like any other day until it wasn't the russian stood there outside his apartment block waiting for him so i gave that to the computer yep and i also gave it to me yeah and at random let's hear one uh right here we go years of being at the top of the spy game meant that jack knew that there was no point running they weren't waiting there on a whim they would have eyes on jack right now pretty good dimitri jack thought to himself i didn't spot the trace jack slowly calmly walked up to his apartment building's front entrance purposefully making eye contact with the russian all the while hello dimitri said jack nice to see you again i was sure i'd killed you in berlin right that was one yeah okay okay the other one the umbrella the man held aloft was made of the finest ostrich feathers jack had seen all the tell-tale signs before the body language the loosed hip stance the thin-lipped pinched expression it was showtime jack knew how to play it cool the russian was looking for a reaction a reason to attack if he didn't pander to the russians desires then the russian would charge first why are you here ivan asked jack

oh ah okay i i feel like i know which one it is do yeah i thought i did and then now i don't both [ __ ] too much attention to the to the wrong things there um what do you think john well i think the second one was ai uh it did it did some things that i think mine came up with uh sort of similar similarly listy yes it just felt an odd turn of phrase slightly odd turns of phrase i really hope this wasn't nice this is tricky now isn't it um but it there was nothing like ultimately wrong with it was there you know what to mean he says backtracking no but it's true it's like it wasn't as easy as i thought it'd be let's put it that way are we back in this uncanny valley thing i think so the ostrich feathers it was all a bit what was it an umbrella with what ostrich yeah i don't know just it wasn't quite right was it but nothing i think i agree with john you are right you are right um yeah i did think it would be more obvious i gotta say yeah it wandered off course but whereas yours was you know it was to the point it had a it sort of continued with the story in an interesting way whereas that was like i'm going to talk about the ostrich feathers of the yeah i don't know interesting interesting and something didn't quite link up at the end is like he was looking at him but then he was talking to him there was no sort of segway it was the second one that said something about berlin wasn't it no that was me dave actually

yeah because that was rubbish this is why i can't tell i can't remember it's too long since the first one whatever right interesting what did we give you bad so i got uh i got romance oh god so a similar thing so i input the basic story romance is similar to spycraft or something which just makes you sound like some kind of dirty player in some way

grabbing them and putting them in a van going through all the like personal details yeah we have ways of making them just just yeah average relationship killing them in berlin

so it's romance so the basic story was about uh a single dad um whose kid is on the verge of going off to university so he's finally about to get his own life back and get back into the world of romance i'm just thinking i hope that like this ai isn't so much cleverer than we thought it was and it's just playing with us and it's going to put ostrich feathers in each story and just sit there and it's server room chuntering to itself about how much clever it is than these stupid humans he looked at the ostrich and thought it's been a while i could pluck you and make an umbrella

so anyway um my once again tom i apologize mine might be a little bit longer than yours but uh i always do this let's find out shall we right not much but anyway so here's the initial bit that i wrote for the first time in a long time alan allowed himself a moment to look up at the other parents almost exclusively mums to see if they were enjoying the last day of term as much as he was what he saw was mostly just stress in a perverted way it was good to see other parents struggling as much as him and besides after today he'd never have to do the school drop-off ever again he let out a deep sigh dropped his shoulders and put the car into gear and that's when he saw her sarah hapworth looking as perfect as she had nearly 20 years ago when she was the one being dropped off okay so that's that's the opening i think that one i think that was written by artificial intelligence it was terrible there was just some bits it just didn't seem to ling it was just yeah a human didn't like that doesn't know what it is it

as allen drove past her he couldn't help but smile at the obvious joy he'd inadvertently creased across her face he fired the car out of the school gates and down the narrow lane at full throttle so he didn't even notice the desperate gesticulations from one rather iraqued mum halfway down the lane he marveled at the fact that it was still warm enough to have the top down and roared along wondering when that fancy new convertible was going to be ready after the briefest of moments to notice the rest of the town whizzing by almost on autopilot he pulled over to the side of the road and tried to make sense of the sudden rush of memories and emotions running through his mind for the very first time in a long time he felt the first stirrings of hope not only was this the last day of the school year but it was also his own graduation day as well his daughter had told him that morning how well he'd progressed on the reading scale whatever had happened to his first child and now that he had a moment to reflect he could truly see what had been missing after all he was now 46 years old with a good paying job and the spare space in the house once occupied by computers now taken up by stuff to fill the time until he could finally start to do what he really wanted to do in life right

okay that's one and the other one so uh so he sees sarah hapworth looking as perfect as she had nearly 20 years ago okay alan's heart began to race his palms sticking to the fake leather steering wheel they say your life flashes before your eyes when you're confronted with death but the same is true when confronted with a glimpse of how your life might have been every single time he saw sarah's face alan was instantly transported back to when he was 17 right here at this very school in this car park every one of his hopes and dreams rattling simultaneously through his mind alongside everything that had happened to stop them coming true that's why he didn't normally look up he didn't have time for hopes and dreams didn't have time to reminisce or indulge in nostalgia for 17 years he'd focused on one thing and one thing only jennifer but now sitting in this car that was almost as old as she was faced with the very real prospect that soon she would be taking care of herself an endless stream of possibilities were trying to force themselves into his mind he looked up once more his head spinning his eyes rolling in their sockets sarah her own child now sprinting through the school gates turned towards him noticed him her eyes burning deep into his very soul she waved and he well he collapsed to the foot well closed his eyes and stuck his fingers in his ears freedom was going to take a bit more getting used to well i think that one's a bit more obvious there you go hopefully yeah but in which way the first one was ai wasn't it all day long yeah all day long yeah yeah it was it was it had that same thing again didn't it where it all seemed like the words next to each other all fitted but from sentence to sentence it was just a bit directionless and kind of like yeah it was odd what it picked up on as well because i just mentioned like he put the car into gear um and it went off on a bit of a thing about a convertible and driving down the road and autopilot and leaving that scene and that being an important scene and then suddenly he's gone from there that didn't seem right yeah he's like something has to happen now do you know what it lacks the ai bit it didn't tap into any of the emotion did it no yeah interestingly no not really it just talked about the physical world more it wasn't yeah it wasn't looking for the where the conflict was at all it was just it was just describing what was describing what happened yeah yeah stupid yeah

there's no emotional connection to the characters or anything was it it was just about yeah it just i think maybe my computer really likes cars or something when ai starts writing all our stories what's to stop big corporations either paying or hacking into to twist the narrative to it's like product placement isn't it yeah i know you just do that naturally like films do now they just just pop it in there because you know you're gonna get paid yeah yeah yeah but what if what if a book what if a book could read your browsing history and um oh my god right start to like write the books that would be interesting if you just submit your browsing history and it would just write something yeah i guess that's facebook isn't it pretty much yeah basically yeah that's true that's weird though as well isn't it the whole browsing history and what that appears on and you think those things aren't connected how's that how's that found yeah and i do keep seeing a load of uh sort of articles that say don't worry facebook doesn't really listen to your conversations and then put adverts in for you and then the very next day you go yeah it does exactly that yeah exactly i sent uh i was having a an amusing discussion with some friends with our cycling friends and we were talking about lycra and we were talking about the shape of our asses and uh and i thought i'll send an amusement picture of those like push-up pants that some ladies wear so i sent that and then of course from then on in whenever i went on amazon there was a huge advert with like really full-on push-up pants with great big like holes in as well to you know to really show the buttocks lifted and i'm kind of aware that katie's walking around in the background and she must wonder about my search history obviously wondering what she's gonna get for a bloody birthday mate

that's all i'm saying well yeah if i'm i make sure i use the uh private browser you know just for buying gifts for people oh that's clever that's cool because that's what it's for isn't it yeah yeah yeah i think yeah pretty sure i think that's another top internet safety tip from the guys at the failing writers

brilliant brilliant so do you want to hear mine yeah so look we've got two two actually because yeah to see obviously with two good writers versus ai it's pretty easy to spot um let's see let's see if it works for you what um what topic was yours john mine what you gave me uh historical war ah yes yes you did yeah thanks so much this is interesting this one though isn't it have you based it on a real war i have i base it on the second world war because that's the only war that i actually know anything about well you think ai will have a lot of information well yeah exactly fact yeah it can harvest the second world war a lot of info about that so it was it's basically the story of a boy waking up in a field hospital during the second world war injured and with no uh immediate memory of who he is that's what i put in i gave it a little bit more info but i won't i'll tell you what that is and my uh my first couple of lines was actually very short well let's hear it then okay the boy awoke suddenly his dream ruptured by a pain down his side he could hear a woman's voice close by but couldn't make out what she was saying moans and cries beyond a cacophony of pain over it all a ringing in his ears and that was all i gave it of the story there's not much to go on no so this is the next bit of the story he opened his eyes and took in the sight of the bare white ceiling something about this was wrong again he saw the same face in the ward this time she looked up and met his gaze her hair was fair and her ruddy face was streaked with tears her hand fluttered to her mouth stifling a cry as he studied her her eyes widened knowing somehow what he was seeing he followed the line of her gaze to the foot of his bed where a row of dull grey boots lay he looked down at his body and remembered the uniform it all came back the bombed out barracks his best stallion the horde of rifles they'd caught him after all the boy's head dropped and he froze he knew now

right okay and b and the second one opening his eyes he saw a nurse leaning over his bed she spoke again he still couldn't catch it something about a horse he tried to turn his neck to see what hurt but had no strength there were rows and rows of beds filled with wailing contorted men a field hospital he tried to dredge his mind for the last thing he could remember a flash of light then nothing he tried to remember his name again nothing he reached for his identity tags horst neumann then it all rushed back to him like a dream the panic being trapped behind enemy lines hiding watching his friend herbert surrender then the back of his head bursting into a bloom of red cloud he remembered stripping the dead german soldier lying next to him putting on his clothes his tags he would pretend to be one of them pretend to be mute then the mortar attack from his own side he looked up noticed the flag the swastika the eagle insignia on the nurse's breast and realized now why he couldn't make sense of what she was saying to him oh there you go what do you reckon

i don't know um they both they both started i don't know either so did they both start with him opening his eyes did they both start with the same pretty much the same he opened his eyes pretty much exactly the same um

oh i was oh i was sure and then i wasn't sure i thought it was going to be i thought the first oh no i thought maybe the first one

yeah i mean they're both excellent that's the thing uh they really i mean did you write what are you tricking us did you do i think there's anything obvious did you employ a professional auditor to write both of them is that what it is nothing stood out as being like really weird in either of them i thought the second one was ai uh but then i don't know but then but then it turned quite good i thought right i thought the first one was john's and then the second one started and i thought it was the ai but then it started to i wasn't sure that it was because it oh man ah it put what felt like a twist of something like some thought i'm gonna stick with my original and i'm gonna say the first one was john's tom uh okay i'm gonna wait to see what johnson no no no no no no no no no no no no that was my that was my instinct as well so yeah it's totally the other way so the second one was mine you see the first one was that was a narrative twist on it rather than just saying what was going on wow that was that's good quite shocked at that i really am it did i yeah it was i mean it was like the i think it was like the fourth or fifth try because they were so bad okay and it was yeah i think it was the fifth goal teaching your ai too much john yeah and interestingly i was was tr i thought i'll try and tell it a very concise little story with a sort of little twist at the end yeah whereas the the obviously the ai wasn't trying to do that it was just sort of it seemed to be just inferring things it was it was like her eyes widened knowing somehow what he was seeing like it was setting up for the storm yeah exactly yeah would it if you let it do the whole thing would it actually resolve anything probably not just keep setting stuff up it's just a bit of tease but it looked like yeah exactly it was like it was dropping these little nuggets for you to try now yeah that's very interesting i i thought you might uh i thought the thing uh the beginning i thought might put you off is because i decided that he would be um he'd be british but then he'd wake up in this german hospital because he he put this german uniform on and uh and i thought i'd have the nurse i thought i'd have him thinking that the nurse was saying something about a horse but she was actually saying his name horst but i thought that that's such a weird line to have in there i thought that might make you think yeah that half maybe i thought that might trigger like a or they'll think that's ai and i thought that's good actually i'll leave that in because that might trick you no i didn't i did it that's true because i did think that um because the ai seems to have a habit of like putting names in uh oh yeah i thought that that yeah that's why it did that because because you yeah oh god i don't know now i don't know what to think is that really you is we actually speaking to john or are we speaking to a computer right now

john john i don't know what you did but the kids have been raving about last night's bedtime story oh really yeah did you try something new no just the same little old me actually you do seem a bit different somehow i i brushed my hair that's it yeah i thought so anyway my turn to cook what do you want for tea oil what bibs oil lives salad okay no problem be ready soon phew that was a close one shut up john or i will hit you with this ostrich feather umbrella bloody hell wow that was interesting wasn't it wasn't it i think we've just had a genuinely interesting feature what is going on and it's only taken a generally interesting feature but we've had to outsource it to computers to actually actually do it left our own devices not so good nothing nothing at all super computer yay yeah i think more and more uh more and more writers are actually using it as a a device you know like a sort of a collaboration i i mean if in that sense if you go if you write something and you couldn't think of what to put next and you could just click that you'd either go that's really good or you'd go well that's rubbish i wouldn't write that and then be inspired to write what you would write instead but that's what you're meant to do as a writer though isn't it yeah that's true just put anything trot out absolutely garbage and then you've got a framework to go and change it but that just cuts out the middlemen you've got someone else to do that for you yeah i feel like i lost that competition yeah i think so i think that's fair yeah i mean you know or maybe the computer no i think uh yeah maybe yes the robots the robots won't feel bad john because robots are quite clever aren't they there was a definite edge of losing it did lose the humanity in it yeah that was the that's where it failed we're talking about me now um yeah it just seemed to spout out words that just kind of move things along yeah anywhere which we will refer to from now on as ostrich feathers yeah ostrich feathers yeah where did it get that from ostrich feathery i mean are ostrich feathers good for making umbrellas out i guess the beast not for the ostrich the ostriches must be uh water resistant wasn't it yes yes i mean it doesn't seem like the best material to make an umbrella out of but you have to really want an ostrich feather umbrella yeah quite fast exactly just catching them yeah a struggle yeah if you can run that fast just find some cover you could yeah you're right i mean yeah yeah

hello i'm george clooney and whenever i've got a spare moment i like to listen to the failing writer's podcast it's great

well we've learned a lot today about uh we mostly learned a lot about john and his lack of talent no you're as talented as a massive super computer that's a better way of looking at it isn't it you could probably beat us both at chess at the same time yeah yeah that is going on my cv i've got on my cv once uh brian blessed rule brian said uh i was a better director than george lucas that is good there we go fact

a absolute factor insurance law class he said i said thanks brian much appreciated and did did you actually get the uh a recording no no i didn't that's going to be quite cool you mean some kind of proof from my cockpit yeah

anyway apart from that we've learned yeah we've uh learned a little bit about ai and that was interesting wasn't it yeah it was interesting worryingly interesting we also learned that we have actually finally started getting on with things haven't we uh you two have both imposed deadlines upon yourself i did well no i had a deadline imposed on me that's true we imposed that yeah that's kind of the same thing it is the same thing i'm hoping john never reaches his 50th birthday that could take me that could be arranged gosh the irony would be in that i i sneak to john's house and poison him so he can't reach his 50th birthday but then write a novel with that as the main plot and that is actually my and then impose a deadline of my 50th birthday you know to release that oh it's and then so it's like a consequence yeah yeah just delaying it slightly every time a series of books just were yeah but i think the self-publishing thing sounds like a great idea tom and it's probably lucky therefore that next week we have an interview with a very successful author who started off in the world of self-publishing yeah so we can learn from owen ryan otherwise known as omj ryan um who's going to be talking to us next week yeah about crime thrillers yeah um so that's all very exciting isn't it it certainly is definitely an episode not to miss so do subscribe right now yes and don't miss it hit the little subscribe button if you haven't already um that was a pretty powerful uh plug for ourselves yeah can't our listenership is going to go through the roof absolutely i mean in a way not subscribe now after that i think there'll be people who have already subscribed to intentionally unsubscribing just so they can resubscribe that's true we shouldn't have said hit the subscribe button we should have been more specific about that shouldn't we hit hit the subscribe button only if you haven't previously subscribed or unless if you listen to this while driving do wait until you've finished driving yeah oh nice thomas yes safety first absolutely or some people listen to podcasts while they're going to sleep so we need to say wake up click subscribe now subscribe like

until next week peoples

if a robot ever says who is the better writer you or me and in my case that's true

apparently well i'm gonna go off and cry see you later chaps see ya where's everybody gone