AI Optimism: The Future Is Fan Fiction

When Spokanalia was publishing Star Trek fan fiction in the 60s, it had reach across a limited audience. It doesn’t get more science fiction fandom than that. And nerds love nerd-status games which getting published in this zine definitely delivered. 

But the advent of the internet and personal computers took fan fiction as a modern art form to a new level of awareness. In 1998, FanFiction.Net created a database where anyone could upload any story of any fandom. Lower barriers to entry and new forms of nerds (and nerd-status) created a flood of content. 

Is Fifty Shades of Grey “good” is a fair question.* What can’t be argued with, is it started out as Twilight fan fiction and went on to multiple best-selling books and blockbuster movies. There are more examples of this too. 

What we can say about fan fiction is it has:

  1. Continues to evolve alongside the internet and online platforms
  2. Skews heavily in creation and consumption towards a younger demographic
  3. Exists as a primary use case for AI

That last point is really important. 

Fan fiction, fan art, and artistic creation in the style, voice, image – you name it (as weird as you want!) is happening. 

We may not have gods and churches the way we used to, but we have content like never before. We also have content figureheads, from Taylor Swift to Harry Potter, who can congregate the masses. And it’s already happening. 

Read Kristin Robinson’s latest for Billboard, where she interviews Ghostwriter and his manager with this in mind: Is AI, as an enabler and of binding people together socially through common interests, bad? Another word? Is it just weird to a lot of us, but liberating to others? 

I’m using optimism deliberately here. Common identifiers have been on the decline. Polarization is real. Art has a way of not just being weird, but connecting people through common bonds across other lines. 

Is the combination of AI and fan-created art utilizing the likeness of others unifying? Can it be? 

I’m asking the question and thinking about this a lot. It doesn’t have to just be deepfakes and nefarious purposes (although it will be that too). We might have some new religions starting here, and the younger generations are way more ok with it than the older ones. Drake is no Jesus, but you have to wonder how Jesus would fit into modern churches too. 

What do you think? 

*it’s not. But it sold. There’s that “you can’t talk about markets without talking about marketing” idea again. 


Check out Ghostwriter’s “Heart On My Sleeve (Drake x The Weeknd AI)” if you missed it too: