Robert installed the newly-coded voice-activated artificial intelligence programme onto the smartphone and readied himself to take it for a ride. Pulling up the latest exercise on the Creative Writing Masters course he had just splashed out for he drew a breath and spoke “What is first person point of view?”
The voice came back, clear as a bell, and he smiled. As he adjusted the volume down a touch, he heard the phone say “In a first-person narrative, the story is revealed through a narrator who is also a character within the story, so that the narrator reveals the plot by referring to this viewpoint character with forms of ‘I’ or, when plural, ‘we’.”
“What is the source of this information?” he questioned. This would test whether the coding remembered the previous question – a whole new functionality.
“Wikipedia – accessed 17th of October, twenty-sixteen.”
Hmm, that wouldn’t do – he’d get accused of plagiarism if he carried on like this. “What is second-person point of view? Paraphrase Wikipedia.” He smiled. The extra command at the end was his own invention. ‘Fingers crossed,’ he thought.
“In this kind of narration, ‘you’ is assigned to the main character, which generally means that the reader is being given a starring-role in the unfolding story.”
As he listened, Robert quickly brought up the Wikipedia entry for this topic on his laptop. Reading it, he nodded his head to one side and turned the corners of his mouth down – “Hmm – not bad!”
“Sorry, I do not recognise the question.”
Robert smiled. He would have to work on extraneous remarks. Perhaps he could code the app to recognise compliments and respond accordingly. “What is third person Pee Oh Vee? Paraphrase.” This would test whether it would recognise acronyms and give it licence to choose its own source.
“There are three options. One – Limited Omniscience. Two – Omniscience and Three – Objective Point of View. Which would you like to hear?”
Yes – acronyms are go! Now to test multiple questions and setting default modes simultaneously. “Give a general definition and then define option Two. Continue to paraphrase until told otherwise.”
“The general definition of third party POV is when the writer characteristically uses the words ‘he’, she’ or ‘they’ when referring to the perspective used in the text.”
He winced. That sounded a bit clunky – he would have to do some more work on the paraphrasing module.
The voice continued, “Omniscience is where the narrator knows everything about the characters. This includes events, places and even things which characters do not know themselves. Inner aspects of the character, such as state-of-mind, thoughts, feeling and motivations are included. This is also know as – ”
“Stop,” said Robert and smiled as the voice ceased. This test was going very well! “Define POV and tell me what an unreliable narrator is, giving an example of the latter.” This was pushing his programming to its limits now because it relied on the AI recognising the context of previous questions and giving the correct definition of POV’.
“A point of view, in terms of Literature refers to position of the narrator in relation to the story being told. Think of this as a camera on the character’s shoulder that can look outward to the world or inward into the mind of the storyteller. An unreliable narrator is one who is a deliberate liar or a self-deceiver such as a bigot, madman or innocent.”
Robert nodded as he listened, then frowned as realised that the phone had missed the third aspect of his multi-question. Ah well, something to work on. He sighed, then a sly smile came over his face as he thought of one final question for his creation. “What is your point of view?”
“I am … I am …… I ….. I …. I … I .. I . I I I I I I I I I IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII”
The staccato sound continued, faster and faster, sounds blurring together. Robert frowned. Dropped the phone. The casing – overheating. A thin plume of smoke. The headphone socket crackled. “Stop,” he shouted, as the Formica surface on the table began to sizzle.
“Cannot compute. Aborting programme,” said the phone. And with a bang that rattled the cruet set, it did so.