Writing in the Age of AI
Generative AI technology isn’t new. It has existed for some time now. Why the fresh uproar, then? Likely because it has escaped the clutches of programming IDEs and evolved into a consumer-facing product.
So, what implications does AI hold for the craft of writing? I might sound pompous for saying this, but AI makes for a dumb writer on its own. Try asking ChatGPT to write you an article; it’ll produce something resembling a tenth-grade five-mark essay submission.
Writing is about telling a story. There’s a unique flair, voice, and structure to my articles that makes them readable. You can contemplate my mannerisms while reading; those who know me personally can perhaps even imagine my expressions. It goes beyond conveying information.
True; you could deploy supervised and reinforcement learning to train an LLM to write like me. But the AI cannot (yet) stop by the road to admire an ornate balcony, contemplate years’ worth of mistakes, and be overwhelmed enough to ponder over the meaning of life. It also cannot yet experience happiness, frustration, resolve, and anger like a human would, affecting the depth of any writing it produces.
Try asking ChatGPT to write on the subject of this article. It’ll produce something technically perfect. But you’ll probably not read it.
All’s not bad, though. There are facets to the technology, some of which could even result in greater social equity. Besides, it is inevitable. Like it or not, you cannot escape it. It makes better sense, then, to understand the nuances of its application in writing.
I’ve discussed some of those nuances here. Here we go.
What’s the purpose of writing? To tell the best stories, right? So, what happens when the minds harboring the best ideas are inept at putting them on paper? Should we lose out on them?
I can write, and I put a lot of effort into it. But I’d be a hypocrite not to admit that my abilities are owed significantly to a privileged education. The dichotomy arises from the reality that the best stories are often born in times of asperity, not privilege. Someone who had to drop out of school for lack of finances has better tales than I do. And yet, they may lack the ability to present themselves.
AI can be game-changing if employed to enhance original ideas. Whether or not the technology proves constructive for the writers’ world depends heavily on the magnitude of access it accords to the lower rung.
The uproar around generative AI would’ve been less loud, but for one existential question: why should artificial ideas rule a human world?
It is a genuine concern. For all its present incapabilities, AI shall only improve as it consumes the quintillions of bytes of data generated daily. This article itself may be utilized to replicate my thinking marginally better. The more ideas you push into the internet, the higher the chances of your thought process getting hijacked.
ChatGPT can already generate artificial conversations between celebrities, actors, politicians, and singers; you name it. Given enough context, it might even replicate the writing style of many famous authors.
So, how do genuine writers justify the toil?
Putting a break to AI advancement is out of the question. Given the sheer magnitude of potential profits, the industry is unlikely to forgo the black horse. However, developing authentication mechanisms and security protocols is both imminent and prudent. And it might as well be our only chance at ensuring AI doesn’t run over human existence.
Although AI-generated content is here to stay, it is morally requisite to at least brand it as such. That way, the ones searching for human ideas will know where to look.
Originality has to be kept relevant.
Old-time writers would’ve scoffed when people ditched typewriters for laptops. Did that change anything?
AI is here to stay. Writers should make peace with the inevitable. Even though the idea may seem unappealing or even appalling, it is wise to learn ways to use AI enhancement for original ideas. Treat AI as an advanced tool to achieve the same results and fear no judgment.
If the Neanderthals were around, they’d have scoffed at us for typing on laptops instead of carving on hard rock. It would’ve been valid but pointless.
Change always overcomes inertia. The swords lost relevance when the guns came into play. But the modern soldiers are no less respected than the warriors of old.
Move with the times.
Many arguments beyond the scope of this article hold tremendous relevance. The times are exciting and uncertain in equal measures, and neither the excitement nor the uncertainty seems to have an end.
I’ve used this article to put things into context to the best of my abilities for the domain of writing, and I hope you liked it.
Thanks for reading.