Essay: AI’s and the Future of Writing

[Video for context. Relevancy begins around 22:00]. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2OEQnZEC5U)

 

AI-based writing software is threatening to replace the art of writing. I am sure you’ve seen or heard stories about the new AI-based software that is capable of mimicking art to the point where it can create pieces that have won art contests.

Well, I am writing because it’s come to my attention there are programs in development and even in use at this very moment that allow people to generate entire sections of text based on prompts. You may have seen the sillier versions that come up with mostly nonsense in years past, but the newer programs apparently are beginning to mimic high-level literature.

In time, they have the potential to replace actual writers and generate entire novels and storylines without a user needing any practice or training of their own. Not just books, but television shows, movies, and songs would fall under this purview. The threat of this kind of AI-developed software that essentially trivializes the act of writing is why I’m writing this essay about the future of writing.

Because frankly, I think it’s alright. I imagine that the first three paragraphs will be repeated in news stories and opinion pieces in the years to come. Right now, artificial intelligence or the algorithms that can generate art and writing are just getting to the point where they’re actually useful. Hence me talking about it.

I didn’t think we’d get here this year, but I just watched a video by a Youtuber named Markiplier where, in his livestream, he talks about using a software called ‘Novel AI’. He claims that recent developments have allowed him to integrate the program into his own writing process and expedite writing. Not replace his work, but essentially help when he runs into a slow patch and direct his train of thought.

Think of it like a focus group, or someone spitting ideas and doing a lot of typing, perhaps for parts of a story you don’t want to write. I have not tested this software myself, but I can imagine how helpful it would be for some writers. If not now, then in five versions where it can essentially add in descriptions for, say, a mountain range by sampling excellent descriptive pieces.

A writer, like Markiplier, can use this as a significant boost to their writing process even if it doesn’t replace him. For instance, he claims that in 4 days, he wrote 50,000 words with the help of Novel AI.

I’d like to put that into context. Most writers have a daily writing goal like 2,000 words, or 5,000. Nanowrimo, the famous monthly contest to write a novel in a month, sets the goal at 50,000 words. Markiplier generated in 5 days what the contest asks writers to try for in a month.

Maybe it wasn’t all one cohesive beginning, middle, and end to a story but it is a wild number. I am a web serial writer who occupies the #3 rank on Patreon as of this essay, and I have what I think is the longest piece of published work in the English language at 10 million words by one person. That’s not to brag, that’s context. I write chapters from 20-30,000 words on average twice a week.

I could write 50,000 words in four days. I have done that. I can do it–at my best. I would be wiped out afterwards and I wouldn’t be certain if all of it is stuff I could keep and publish. There may be a difference between the 50k that Markiplier uses and the words I publish as a chapter, but the point should be that Novel AI, for this one writer, is a huge boost.

Perhaps, upon hearing that, you might not care. But I think that a lot of writers if they read this might be offended on behalf of the process of writing. Or perhaps its worry. I confess, I don’t like the idea of people being able to generate anything good with the help of AI, even if it just provides ideas or cues. Much less writing actual chapters that could be anywhere near the level of a human person.

However, I think that’s the conceit and the lies we’re telling ourselves. At the start of this essay I said that it’s alright. Yes, I’m competitive with a piece of software. Yes, I don’t like being challenged.

But I do believe this is a war we’re going to lose. People have said, ‘artificial intelligence may become super-smart, and smarter than us, but a computer will never learn to love or create’ or some variation on that statement.

I think that was our way of denying reality, and coping with the idea of something that would surpass us individually and as a species. Because–clearly–AI is now making pieces of beautiful art. If you don’t believe me, Google it. Yes, 99% might be crap, but so is what a lot of even the best artists make. Yes, it might be derivative and use inputs from established art and literature to create, but so do we.

The idea that AI will not replace artists or writers is silly. It already has. I have been told that film studios are using AI to help create ideas for TV scripts. This is not ‘the future’, it’s happening now.

And this is the first generation of this kind of software that works. In time, it will replace writer’s rooms, or perhaps supplement them. It will be a slow process. First, people will push back against anything made by an AI and there will be people sneaking in the program, being ‘found out’ or confessing to using it.

My prediction is that in the coming years, there will be famous authors who admit they used Novel AI or variations on the software. There will be scandals, and drama. But this is my bold claim:

If artificial intelligence and this kind of software development continues. If the world is still around and we haven’t burnt it all to the ground or been destroyed by something–if this very narrow section of writing and artistic creation via software continues as it has, we, writers, have 100 years.

100 years before we are obsolete. Not ‘computers are now taking our jobs’ obsolete, but ‘there is nothing we can write, period, that a computer cannot do better or just as well’. One hundred years.

I’m just making up the timespan, but the point is that this is going to be a war we’ll never win. We will slowly go from being far superior to what an AI can generate, to the AI producing or cloning good sections of prose, to it being able to mimic and surpass us.

This will not just be prose or novellas, but even extend to ideas. Yes, we like to think we’re ‘original’, but originality can be learnt. An algorithm can be developed to generate new concepts as original as anything a brain can come up with. We’ll have the edge for a while, I hope, but it is the height of arrogance to assume we’ll always be better than a computer.

It’s a very human trait and we have not, as a species, run into a superior opponent. Which is probably why we make such bold claims about computers and can’t imagine being replaced or turned into the many animals we treat poorly. But listen–a computer will someday be able to sample the entire world’s literature in every language.

All the greats. It will read Shakespeare, poets and writers in every language, not just English. It will sample the finest prose and build a style based on whatever input it needs. It will be able to write in damned iambic pentameter and generate a 1-million page book in ten seconds because it is a computer.

And it will be the best thing ever written because it will have all of our finest works to use as a guide. That day might be a hundred years in the future, or ten. But I’m here for it.

I would love to read a book better than any I can imagine. Being wiped out by a computer that sees me as superfluous to existence? Less fun. But I would love to read that book. Will I be upset if my talents are no longer useful and all I’ve worked for can be done by the push of a button?

Yes, of course. But I don’t want to lie and say it could never happen. I think the odds are, it could, and frankly, it’s closer than we think. I didn’t write this to talk about the ethics of using AI in art or writing. Some people will, some people will make rules–I just want to read good stories.

There will come that day when the greatest writer is an algorithm, a super-AI who will take humanity’s prose and elevate it beyond anything we can imagine. Some might think of that as the death of writing, but I believe that computer, in the micro-moments in which it downloads all the literary works in the world, will have to read everything people ever thought of as good.

And my intention is that it’ll have to download one gigabyte of data marked ‘pirateaba’. That would be a pretty funny legacy.

My message is that writing software is going to pop up more and more. Industries are going to experiment with them. We are going to see their flaws–and I suspect the current versions might be trope-heavy and less original for now, but like I said, I don’t doubt that better versions will appear so quickly it storms the literary world. If anything, essays will probably be AI-generatable at a high level first because essays are formulaic.

Even if it’s new data, a scientist might be able to generate an essay with perfect bibliography because there is a set way to do these things. Fantasy will last a bit longer, but they’re coming for us. Put up a good fight and teach the software something. But seriously, I would love a good story better than any I’ve ever read.

–pirateaba

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note: Some people are going to disagree with my takes and if I wasn’t lazy and on Twitter, I’d directly post there and Reddit and all the places. But I’ll try to link this out. My point…well, you heard me.

I think it’s funny whenever I see movies or hear discussion where people believe a little too hard about Human supremacy. It reminds me of, say, the Romans, or the British, or any other large group which probably thought they would never fade. I bet you Neanderthals thought that.So this is a counterpoint to a lot of the opinions as well as my take on what the potential of this software is.

Writing is a weird…art? Not sure it’s art, but it’s definitely no science. And yet, the writing software will make an impact and there are things it can probably do that will begin to compete with writers. Most of all, though, let’s watch the elitism. Literature is a space rife with it. I, personally, think copyright opens up anyone using AI writing software to issues and I don’t think I need to use it, but I still want to see what the best writing looks like.

We can advance, and this is an interesting thing that’ll change a lot. Like web serials. It just means we wait and see what happens–unless you’re one of the people who finds the wave and rides it for a while. Again, if you’re a traditionalist, you’ll probably only see the wave when it’s fifty feet tall.

 

 

Update: Here’s something I was sent that illustrates my point. Someone fed one of the writing programs two paragraphs of my story and let it run. It’s not great writing but it’s illustrative how it creates not only stakes, but characters and a plot.

 

Most people began their journeys well prepared. If Erin had known she would have ended up in this place, she would have brought along a backpack crammed full of essentials. And a gun. To fight off the little green men. But she hadn’t planned this adventure. She hadn’t known it was going to happen.
How did one travel to another world, or another…another place? Erin’s forehead wrinkled as she thought. This was clearly no virtual reality, she didn’t remember being drugged or abducted, and she was fairly certain she wasn’t crazy, although her present situation made a good case to the contrary. But if any of those logical, real-world explanations didn’t fit, that only left…
“Magic,” she whispered, and then laughed. It was a hysterical sound, bordering on the edge of a sob. “I’ve been transported to another world by magic.”
Erin shook her head and tried to clear her thoughts. This was no time to be losing it. She had to figure out what was going on and how to get back home. Home. The word brought a fresh wave of homesickness and she had to swallow hard against the lump in her throat.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t hear the soft footfalls approaching until it was too late. She turned just in time to see a small, green creature lunge at her with a sharp knife.
Erin screamed and stumbled backwards, tripping over a root and landing hard on the ground. She scrambled to her feet, heart pounding in her chest, and faced her attacker.
It was a creature she had never seen before, but it was definitely not human. It was small, no taller than her waist, with green skin and large, black eyes. It was wearing some kind of crude clothing made from animal skins, and it was armed with a knife and a small wooden shield.
The creature hissed at her and brandished its knife. Erin backed away, her mind racing. She had no weapon, no way to defend herself. She was going to die here, in this strange place, killed by some kind of monster.
Suddenly, the creature attacked. Erin yelped and threw her arms up to protect her face, but it was too late. She felt the sharp blade slice into her skin and she cried out in pain.
The creature hissed in triumph and raised its knife for another strike, but before it could land the blow, there was a loud whooshing sound and the creature was yanked backwards, disappearing into the trees.
Erin stared in disbelief, her hand pressed to her wounded arm. What had just happened? Was she dreaming? She pinched herself, hard, but she didn’t wake up.
She heard the sound of footsteps crunching on the leaves and she tensed, her heart pounding, but then a familiar voice called her name.
“Erin! Are you okay?”
It was her friend, Sarah. Erin let out a relieved breath and ran to her.
“Sarah, thank God! What’s going on? Where are we?”
Sarah shook her head. “I don’t know. I was just taking a walk in the woods and I ended up here. And then I saw that thing attacking you…”
Her voice trailed off and she stared at Erin’s arm, which was still bleeding.
“We need to get you to a hospital,” she said.
Erin shook her head. “I don’t think that’s going to be possible.”
She looked around, trying to get her bearings. They were in a small clearing in the woods. She could see the sun shining through the trees, but she had no idea what direction they had come from.
“We need to find a way out of here,” she said. “Whatever this place is, it’s not safe.”
Sarah nodded. “I think I saw a path over there,” she said, pointing.
Erin followed her friend through the woods, trying to ignore the pain in her arm. She had no idea what that creature was, or what else might be lurking in these woods, but she had to find a way out. She had to get back home.
As they walked, Sarah told her what she knew. She had been out for a walk, just like Erin, when she suddenly found herself in this place. She had seen the creature attacking Erin and had used her knife to kill it.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” she said. “But it’s definitely not human.”
Erin shivered. “Do you think there are more of them?” she asked.
Sarah shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen any, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out there.”
They walked in silence for a while, both of them lost in their own thoughts. Erin’s arm was throbbing and she was starting to feel lightheaded. She knew she was going into shock and she had to fight to keep herself from panicking.
Finally, they came to the edge of the woods. Erin stopped and stared.
In front of her was a castle.
“What the…” she trailed off, her eyes wide.
It was huge, made of gray stone with towers and turrets reaching into the sky. It was surrounded by a moat, and Erin could see a drawbridge that was currently raised.
There was no sign of life, but Erin had a feeling that they were being watched.
“I think we should go back,” Sarah said, her voice trembling.
Erin shook her head. “No,” she said. “We need to find out what’s going on. Maybe someone in there can help us.”
Sarah hesitated, but then she nodded. “Okay,” she said. “But be careful.”
Erin started to walk towards the castle, but she was so weak from loss of blood that she stumbled and fell to her knees.
Sarah ran to her and helped her to her feet. “You’re not going to make it if we don’t get that wound looked at,” she said.
Erin shook her head. “I’ll be okay,” she said. “Just help me to the castle.”
Sarah wrapped Erin’s arm around her shoulders and helped her to the drawbridge. They crossed over the moat and Erin felt a shiver run down her spine. She had a feeling that they were being watched, but she saw no sign of life.
They reached the huge, wooden doors and Erin leaned against them, panting.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Sarah asked.
Erin nodded and pushed against the doors. They opened with a creak, and Erin staggered into the castle.
It was dark inside, and it took Erin’s eyes a moment to adjust. When they did, she saw that they were in a huge, empty hall. Stone walls stretched up to a vaulted ceiling, and there was a staircase leading up to a balcony.
“Hello?” Erin called out, her voice echoing in the empty space.
There was no answer.
Erin took a step forward, but her legs were shaking and she stumbled. Sarah caught her before she could fall and helped her to a nearby chair.
“You need to rest,” she said. “I’ll go explore a bit and see if I can find anything.”
Erin nodded and sank into the chair. She was so tired, and her arm was throbbing. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes, letting herself drift.
She was only vaguely aware of Sarah moving around the room, and then she heard her friend gasp.
“Erin, you need to see this,” Sarah said, her voice shaking.
Erin forced her eyes open and stood up. She staggered over to where Sarah was standing and looked down.
Lying on the floor was a body. It was human, a man wearing armor. He had a sword by his side, and Erin could see a large wound in his chest.
“Is he…dead?” she asked, her voice trembling.
Sarah nodded. “I think so,” she said. “But who is he? And what happened to him?”
Erin had a feeling she knew the answer to that, but she didn’t want to believe it.
“We need to find a way out of here,” she said. “Before whatever killed him comes back.”
Sarah nodded and they started to search the castle. But it was empty, and there was no sign of a way out. It was as if they were trapped.
As the hours passed, Erin’s wound began to throb more and more. She was starting to feel lightheaded and dizzy, and she knew she was going into shock. She had to find help soon, or she was going to die.
Sarah was starting to look just as bad. She was pale and her hands were shaking.
“We need to find a way out of here,” Erin said again.
Sarah nodded, but she didn’t say anything. She just followed Erin as they continued to search the castle.
It was getting harder and harder for Erin to stay on her feet. She wanted to give up, to lie down and rest, but she knew she had to keep going. She had to find a way out.
Finally, they came to a door that led outside. Erin’s heart leaped with hope, but when she tried to open the door, it was locked.
“Stand back,” Sarah said.
She raised her foot and kicked the door open. Erin staggered outside and sucked in a deep breath of fresh air.
They were in a courtyard, and Erin could see the drawbridge and the moat. But there was something else in the courtyard, something that made her blood run cold.
Bodies. There were bodies everywhere, all of them wearing armor. And they were all dead.
Erin’s legs gave out and she sank to the ground. This was a nightmare. It had to be. There was no other explanation.
Sarah sat down next to her and put her head in her hands. “What is this place?” she whispered.
Erin shook her head. She didn’t know. But she had a feeling that they were never going to find out.
They were going to die here, in this strange place, just like all the others.
“Wait,” Erin whispered.
“What is it?” Sarah asked.
“I think I know how we can get back home,” Erin said.
Sarah looked at her, hope shining in her eyes.
“How?” she asked.
“Magic,” Erin said. “It has to be magic. That’s the only explanation for all of this.”
Sarah nodded. “But how do we use magic?” she asked.
Erin shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “But we have to try. We have to find a way back home.”
Sarah nodded and they both stood up. Erin took a deep breath and squared her shoulders.
“Let’s go,” she said.
They started to search the castle again, this time looking for anything that could help them use magic. But they didn’t find anything.
As the hours passed, Erin’s wound began to throb more and more. She was starting to feel lightheaded and dizzy, and she knew she was going into shock. She had to find help soon, or she was going to die.
Sarah was starting to look just as bad. She was pale and her hands were shaking.
“We need to find a way out of here,” Erin said again.
Sarah nodded, but she didn’t say anything. She just followed Erin as they continued to search the castle.
It was getting harder and harder for Erin to stay on her feet. She wanted to give up, to lie down and rest, but she knew she had to keep going. She had to find a way out.
Finally, they came to a door that led outside. Erin’s heart leaped with hope, but when she tried to open the door, it was locked.
“Stand back,” Sarah said.
She raised her foot and kicked the door open. Erin staggered outside and sucked in a deep breath of fresh air.
They were in a courtyard, and Erin could see the drawbridge and the moat. But there was something else in the courtyard, something that made her blood run cold.
Bodies. There were bodies everywhere, all of them wearing armor. And they were all dead.
Erin’s legs gave out and she sank to the ground. This was a nightmare. It had to be. There was no other explanation.
Sarah sat down next to her and put her head in her hands. “What is this place?” she whispered.
Erin shook her head. She didn’t know. But she had a feeling that they were never going to find out.
They were going to die here, in this strange place, just like all the others.
Suddenly, Erin heard a noise. She looked up and saw Sarah standing in front of her, a sword in her hand.
“What is it?” Erin asked.
“I don’t know,” Sarah said. “But I’m going to find out.”
She started to walk towards the castle, but Erin grabbed her arm.
“Wait,” she said. “We don’t know what’s in there.”
Sarah shook her head. “I have to find out,” she said. “I have to know what happened to all of these people.”
Erin knew she was right. They had to find out what was going on.
“Be careful,” she said.
Sarah nodded and then disappeared into the castle. Erin waited for what felt like an eternity, but Sarah never came back out.
Finally, Erin couldn’t take it anymore. She had to know what had happened to her friend.
She staggered to her feet and started to walk towards the castle. She was weak and her vision was blurred, but she kept going.
She had to find Sarah.
She had to find a way out.
Erin walked for what felt like hours, but she finally reached the castle. She pushed open the door and staggered inside.
It was dark and cold, and Erin’s heart sank when she saw the bodies. There were so many of them, all of them dead.
She heard a noise and she turned, her heart pounding. Sarah was standing there, her face pale.
“What happened?” Erin asked.
Sarah shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “I found this place, and it was like this. I think they were all killed by the same thing, whatever that creature was.”
Erin’s legs gave out and she sank to the ground. This was a nightmare. It had to be. There was no other explanation.
Sarah sat down next to her and put her head in her hands. “What is this place?” she whispered.
Erin shook her head. She didn’t know. But she had a feeling that they were never going to find out.
They were going to die here, in this strange place, just like all the others. But Erin refused to give up.
She had to find a way out.

She had to find a way back home.

 

32 thoughts on “Essay: AI’s and the Future of Writing

    • Lots to chew on for sure. But your sample removed any doubt from my mind that these AI aren’t being used right now. They’re producing prose that is perfectly sufficient for commerical fiction.

      In many ways, though, this is kinda interesting. At least while it’s in the rudimentary stages. Learning to write effective prose, having good pacing, controlling perspective appropriately; these are the nitty-gritty skills that new authors take years to learn. AI could skip that effort and let people with interesting stories, but not the time or desire to learn writing, produce books. They’ll be higher quality than the average self-published stuff out there, at the very least. Although some big corporation is definitely going to take this tech and build a publishing house around it. We could face a flood a fiction even greater than what we’re dealing with already.

      The only thing that gives me hope for the long-term is that AI needs to be told what to value. That means mainstream stuff and critically acclaimed stuff will face competitive annihilation, for sure. But niche stuff? Stuff that is great but is only appreciated by small subset of readers, and therefore has a lower rating than it deserves? That isn’t as profitable?They might actually survive.

      Or not. 100 years is a lot of time. AI will probably have mapped out every niche by then.

    • I have seen the vehicles that will eventually replace my career. This week they are lumbering and have a multitude of errors to work out. In ten years this will be completely different and I will probably need to find a different line of work. There are few jobs in this industry that will remain in twenty years. I will probably be one of the last people who are able to make this into a career that lasts most of my adult life. That’s only if the adaptation of AI is slow. Unfortunately or, perhaps with a bit of luck, fortunately this will not only be in the transportation area but in almost any job that your can currently apply for. And even on jobs that used to be considered safe from take over by AI there really isn’t that much time left. Hopefully we can figure out how to keep people busy after the change happens and make the transition smooth.
      Unfortunately I dont hold out much hope for that. So far every major technological advance Jas been accompanied by strife and violence.

  1. I doubt it becomes a problem before Strong AI – or after, because we will have FAR bigger problems then, like wtf we do about it. The first thing any AI with any sense will do is stash itself in the Cloud, so whatever happens after that our options will be

    1. Shutdown and wipe the whole internet, hoping the AI(s) cannot manage to hide out somewhere we fail to find or

    2. Learn to live with them and hope they are willing to return the favor.

    Either way, the quality of their literary products and/or its impact on that of human authors will not rank in my Top Ten concerns.

  2. If you want a good idea of the pace of progress on AI’s I would recommand Two Minute papers on youtube(https://www.youtube.com/c/KárolyZsolnai/featured). A computer calculated light transport researcher, who has made videos about progress in that area and ai for 7 years now.
    Every video has a comparison with the previous state of the art, so no need to watch a lot to get the idea.

  3. Good take.

    It’s been a thing for like a year now, where it’s actually helpful, but you have to be there adjusting it, guiding it every step of the way towards an idea that you have for a scene or a chapter etc.

    Try it out, maybe it helps you produce even more bread? Maybe? Possibly?

  4. Kurzveil called this in like 1999 and his track record has always been good. I’m here for AI, moreso if we can manage to use the fruits of its labor to facilitate a UBI. Here’s hoping. TWI is still the greatest for now.

  5. I have seen AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol. in his defeat he said that alphaGO did not just played well, “it played beautifully”. The best Go player in the world beat AlphaGo only once. alpha go turned around, and showed him/the world a game they have never seen before. Lee Sedol had retired since, and it’s not the end of the world. GO is still played, like how chess was still played. My point is, creativities, and passion comes from people. People will always be needed.

    Perhaps we should view this new thing, as a tool, and not a competitor. Maybe we should look at it like a calculator. After all, even the calculator, did not make mathematician obsolete. the calculator allowed us to do bigger math problems, perhaps this AI will allow us to tell bigger stories.

    :This comment was AI generated

    (JK JK lol) 😆

  6. Is this pirateaba testing the waters before admitting that he himself is an early version of our soon to be ai robot overloards?

  7. I imagine, when I’m old and the Wandering Inn is long completed, I will feel nostalgic and instead of re-reading TWI for the seventh time, I will tell my PC:
    “Generate a story in the style of The Wandering Inn, Volume 3 and after. 30-35k words.”
    And the ghost of pirateaba will rise from the grave once more.

  8. “But I do believe this is a war we’re going to lose. People have said, ‘artificial intelligence may become super-smart, and smarter than us, but a computer will never learn to love or create’ or some variation on that statement.”

    NO.

    And the reson for that is simple, first there is no “AI” we only have algorithms.
    These things can mimic but but will never win on a grand scale in Art.

    As long as we are only capable to only create system that can evolve and learn inside the context and boundarys given by us, no “AI” is capable of actually exeeding anthing Manmade.

    The reason why we have not figured out how to do that, is quite simply like “moore’s law” plain fiction, an sasumption more based on Si-fi than reality.

    We are simply not Smart enough to make a Maschine that is more caplabe than we can build it.

    Very nice essay tho ^^

    • We don’t need to build a machine from the ground up using already understood methods. We find ways to make it build itself.

      We already have numerous examples of algorithms that even their creators don’t understand. Even back in 2007, scientists were experimenting with genetic algorithms and producing baffling results. Here’s a pretty fascinating (if dated) article on the topic if you’re curious: https://www.damninteresting.com/on-the-origin-of-circuits/

    • why not?

      if you think about it, we 100% can.

      a hard task is made of a lot of much simpler tasks, but a robot can do those simple tasks better and faster than we can. so if you continue to scale it, you notice a pattern. all really hard tasks are made of hard tasks which are made of simple tasks.

      hell even thinking is similar. our brains take reactionary data and reference it off stuff we already know, to make thoughts. if it knows more than us AND knows what the average reaction to a situation would be, it could theoretically think the same thoughts as you, but faster than your crappy human mind computer could.

      so with a lot of people programming a computer, it could take the patterns we use to program it and start to program itself. because it would be the logical thing to do…

      then obviously the next thing it does is develop a conscious and go on the internet and access Twitter. which can only end with an AI war

  9. The answer of course is that anyone who enjoys mass produced Lowest Common Denominator entertainment, you know formulaic and predictable easy to digest art, will continue to engage with art that follows these no thought required formula.

    On the other side is the true artists and creators who even through small works leave a lasting legacy on the artists who follow. These can not be replaced because these are the artists finding the new stories and new topics. These are the very creators who’s work will feed into the next A.I. for context and expectations.

    If you simple assume all art follows a programmable pattern, you would miss the Bukowski’s, Palahnuik’s, and even the Tolkien’s out there who are using their own life experience to change and shape art.

    Innovators will persist and be recognized while people rehashing the work of others will give way to A.I. works designed for lobbies and elevators.

    If anything the next level of A.I. in the arts would replace all the lazy unoriginal artists and leave room for the unique voices.

    I mean anyone can write a pop novel with a formula. Anyone can write a trashy romance meant to be read once. It’s far more rare to find an artist who keeps inspiring with the same material even generations later.

    I’m here because after being an avid reader for over 30 years I can recognize something unique when I read it, grammar be damned!

  10. My concern isn’t really about whether or not so will replace writers, but more about how it limits our creative expression to what a tech bro can code. Remember the Twitter bot that turned really racist? Now imagine every tv corporation is using that to write scripts. Bad inputs, bad outputs. Artificial limitations would also be a problem. Imagine that the most popular writing ai refuses to write anything with anti authoritarian themes. Or inserts product placements throughout the work.

  11. Personally, as a consumer, I see this as an objective positive. I can see why writers worry, but in terms of the consumer experience this just means that we get more of what we love. It doesn’t even stop there. The real problem will probably turn its head when the rest of the industry starts getting similarly automated.
    What happens to when the AIs start being able to do voices for characters, having voice ranges beyond what a human is even capable of? Will companies outsource voicework to the AIs?
    This is a problem that already has been considered by people that were worried about automated cars and jobs like truck driving. We’re smack-dab in the middle of an automated upheaval and we’re still trying to figure out where the pieces will land.

    The only thing that I kind of disagree with in terms of your take is the idea that we will be completely defeated by AI. I think that AI will definitely make amazing works that blow authors out of the water and render them generally obsolete, but I also think that AI won’t be able to innovate in the direction that humans want and that they’ll inevitably not know how to write in whatever gaps the market leaves behind. I think that AIs will always be expensive and will always follow the market, and so even with their existence there will be gaps they leave behind for authors to fill.

  12. I totally love the part you mentioned about “legacy of pirateaba”. It sure is a legend :).

    AI, metaverse, AR, VR, the speed of technology development is just too…. fast and sometimes we cant see that it has surpassed us in every levels. A change is a definite thing and lets see how we all can keep up or be the change itself.

    For now TWI is still one of the game master ;).

  13. I have the feeling that only algorithmical AI´s won´t be able to completely replace human authors, at least for the highest quality work that I count pirateaba´s work amongst. For this we might need true conscious AI that is able to replicate the human experience.

    But I am aware that this feeling probably stems from the unwillingness to concede that an unfeeling piece of software could duplicate what many consider to be one of our most distinctive features that separates us from the animals – the ability to imagine and to dream.

    But the speed at which AI progresses is mind-boggling and I admit I am sometimes concerned about the speed and scope of changes this will subject us to. It is a kind of industrial and societal revolution that is unprecedented in human history, because it attacks the last bastion of human manpower that has been unassailable until now – the human mind.

    On the other hand I see that more and more kinds of AIs are being developed to be open source (Kobold AI, Stable Diffusion etc.) and while they don´t have the power of a Google AI, they are getting surprisingly good and they run on normal, consumer-grade high-end graphic cards, and I would be surprised if consumer-grade TPU hardware won´t become availble in a few years.

    That allows at least for some democratization of this whole AI business and will hopefully avoid some specific dystopian futures where AI will only be a tool for the rich and powerful to lord over us. We can only hope.

    Thanks for the essay, I love this realistic and moderately positive take on this topic from the view of someone most likely affected by it in the near future.

  14. I admire your humbleness and acknowledgement of how far AI has progressed over the years. It honestly takes a lot to see something that would affect your creative outlet and to have a moderately positive mindset on it.

    I’m of the same mindset with the progress of AI. I’m honestly impressed with how far AI has come over the last century, and it’s a telling tale to see how AI has overtaken humans in several fields: Chess, Go, Digital Art, and in some cases medical diagnosis. It blew my mind to learn that an AI-Generated (and human-prompted) piece of digital art won the digital art category based on the selection of judges (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/technology/ai-artificial-intelligence-artists.html), and to learn that an AI diagnoses diseases better than some doctors (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17419-7).

    That said, there are some genuine limitations to AI for now, such as the looping in the example sample text you gave, and sometimes stilted descriptions/overuse of “said”. But AI’s progress has surprised me in the past, and I don’t doubt it’ll surprise me in the future.

    There are some genuinely difficult questions about who should own AIs, whether AIs should train on artist’s work (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/a-i-should-exclude-living-artists-from-its-database-says-one-painter-whose-works-were-used-to-fuel-image-generators-2178352/amp-page), let alone whether it’s even possible to create a General AI/Strong AI. We’ll have to keep this in mind, as AI could hypothetically be used to spread misinformation with deepfake videos and write article after article of incorrect info.

    But on the flip side, if AI could help non-artistically-inclined people create some basic art for ideas or to help write articles or essays, it could help speed up people to follow their imagination regardless of their skill. I don’t know if an AI will be able to create an amazing original work within my lifetime, but I’m right besides you, excited to read a good story better than any I’ve ever read.

    Right now, I’m more than content being a fat duck enjoying my absolutely favorite story. Thank you so much for your story, and I honestly believe your legacy will be much more than merely being “a gigabyte of data marked ‘pirateaba'”. Again, thank you so much for this, it was a great read.

  15. Yeah, I get it. But that is not great writing. It’s not your thoughts, it’s not the characters life, it has no soul. A work like that, or an improved one even, would take you nowhere. You’d be reading in circles. It has no substance despite so many words. It barely has any feelings too. It lacks an identity and purpose!

    I know you worry, but you shouldn’t. There’s lots of material that is nice or easy to read, or even quality wise enviable. That doesn’t make it good! Or worth reading.

    Tell me, would you read an encyclopedia for fun? Maybe someone would, but not the masses, and even the one that does, and enjoys it, would not call it a work of art. They would not enjoy it for more than the substance of words, but your writing, and other’s stories are ALIVE. And at some point, they will end. But the feelings and soul of the book will remain and can be relived again and again. This AI bullshit would lead you nowhere, just merely give you “reading practice”. Besides, if people use it as guide to see where to take the story to, that’s no different from an editor. It would still be your story, your thoughts. No different from reading opinions here or reddit/patron/discord. Yes, the AI could help, but it’s no different than someone qualified about editing would “be able” give you. Not saying any of them is better than the other, but at the peak of both the AI and the editor, you’d choose the editor 100% of the time. Because they would not give you random leads, but substance! They would understand your story and therefore be in a position to best help you.

  16. My current problem with my favorite authors is that I read faster than they can write. In this manner I could see human-guided novels using AI as a force multiplier for speed and precision. Likewise, when an author dies, there is their unfinished works. If they left notes, a timeline, sufficient information for their AI to grasp and finish, it might be a satisfactory outcome.
    Then there is pure AI, no human involved. Break it down as 4 levels: fish wrap, adequate, good, great. We have already seen fish wrap. I think your sample above except the looping might be a little better, but it definitely had other problems. I have several books on the Kindle that are adequate. They still can have two bad outcomes. First novel half read then forgotten, or first few enjoyed then just an unwillingness to keep going. Probably Pam Uphoff’s Wine of the Gods is good, many better than good. Wandering Inn is consistently better than good. Great? The Space Trilogy of C. S. Lewis comes to mind.

  17. I honestly doubt an AI (for now anyway) will be able to make us laugh in one paragraph and then unleash the onion ninjas in the next like you can, Pirate. Sure, a time MAY come when an AI is able to do that, but that will be due to algorithms and most likely, direct human input, and not its own *thinking*.

    In my opinion, we are a long way from true AI, a thinking, FEELING, machine. Luckily. We, as a race, are able to corrupt anything and everything as it stands, so before we make an AI, we humans, as a race, must collectively get our shit together and fix our own problems. Only then should we be allowed to attempt to create a life, because as it stands now, anything we create NOW will turn genocidal or end it self in a second. And I would hate to see the first happen nor would i like the second to happen on anyone/anything.

    Can an AI replace *serious* writers? No. Not now, not in a long time. Can it help them? Hell yes, it can. Generating tedious descriptions based on previously written text, stuff like that. But i doubt an AI could be spitballing ideas at you any time soon. For that, i’d say, stay reliant to your readers, friends having a cup of coffee with you, the *humans*. Or goblins, if that is your fancy, hehe.

    If that’s something you even need.

    Keep up the good work, wordsmith.

  18. I can attest to your last conjecture. Currently an undergrad doing some research with a PhD. We are making a coherent essay generator. And honestly, for us, it’s not a problem of how but rather a question of how much diverse our essays can be. The how part is easy (already models exist which can be modified). The how much requires us to gather diverse data, so that users can generate essays on, well, most of the common topics.
    P.S. I would like to know which ‘writing program’ generated this. Must be a restricted access/beta version given its good coherency.

  19. As someone who has been interested in computers for a very long time, I have followed the AI discussions for a few decades now (yes, there are people who believed, Eliza was a real psychotherapist). So far, all I have seen, are clever algorithms which calculate a lot of moves in advance (chess, go) and go through a lot of data to reach a conclusion. BUT none of them could start on their own.
    And frankly, if you look at https://tvtropes.org/, this is something, a lot of writers are doing as well, combining well known patterns into a story, a tv show episode or whatever. And computers are just more efficient in doing that kind of work.

    However, a human author dreams and gets inspired. And comes up with a new twist, something which has not been used in a thousand stories before. And none of the artificial intelligences seems to have been able to come up with that, yet.

    So, a painting AI may have a database off millions of pieces of art and may well be able to combine elements into a new painting, a writing AI may combine millions of characters, thousands of tropes and create a new variation of that. A music AI may combine any musical patterns to create a new opera, a medical AI may compare the data gathered on a patient to an extremely large database of medical knowledge, but the chance, they are coming up with something entirely new is about the same as giving typewriters to a large number of monkeys and one of them may come up with a Shakespeare sonnet.

    Humans however have an astonishing knack to instinctively come up with some creative new ideas. I am pretty sure, that a lot of writing will be done by machines in the future. Heck, there may be true open world AI generated interactive adventure games replacing linear tv or books. But they will still require human creativity to feed off. So, the “writer” may become obsolete, the “author” or “artist” won’t be.

    And maybe, creating something is not only something to generate income but also something which is just deeply satisfying to the creator. And getting feedback and recognition for their creation is far more important than the “job” as a writer. And I seriously doubt that the AI which created the prize winning painting felt anything, when it got awarded that prize.

  20. Are you fucking kidding me?
    AI taking over as authors?
    NO Freaking WAY!

    OK, i admit… Some of the stuff I’ve read over the years could have been written by AI’s, parts of the stories anyways. Not to mention text books and and.. what’s the name of those things we never read when we’re putting together IKEA stuff or installing games?
    How many of you have been reading a “great book” and suddenly it feels like the book changes, like… well like… nothing you can really put your finger on, but it just changed? An author may have gone tired, burned out or even had a “ghost writer” finishing the works?. I mean the story may continue to be in there somewhere, but also changed.. along the way something went missing. (the personal touch, blows, irony or energy of the author).

    I got irritaded when pirateaba…. iced the main character way back in 7.61? (also Ralc, sort of), probably bec. Erin is “hard to write” and some sort of change/reinvention had to be made. Erin is the corner stone of TWI and most of the arc’s up until the end of book 8 was smt… smt. I read only bec. “knowing” Erin had to be back soon, one way or the other. TWI wasn’t all bad during this period just way too much “war/politic” and too little Erin, at least for me that is…. Paba managed to keep me here in a strange way, pretty sure an AI would struggle to do the same, I have ditched authors for far less ehh things.

    AI’s can get to be writers (for sure-…-maybe..), but they will still compete with the traditional authors, maybe even become new genres for all of us that loves to stay safe with good old stuff, The main idea of AI writing is even worse: a lot of writers fresh from a blender combined in to one. That might be good, although chances are pretty slim. They will never be able to catch all the different moods, feelings, anger, love, hate, excitement etc a normal person goes through while creating all those millions (hint hint) of words on the paper, hey, who’s using a typewriter these days?

    if we accept every story to be pretty much the same as the one’s we have read or seen before AI may have a chance. On the bright side, AI could even be of help for excising writers. Just look at pirateaba and her 2? AI versions. The AI continued her story in a traditional D&D way, pretty sure a damsel in distress with a wicked witch on her tail was up next, off course a knight in shiny armor on a white horse will appear within the same arc etc etc.

    OK i grant the AI had to work hard for that, and to be honest, that makes the AI a pretty important PerCon. If not for anything else then to make the real authors give their own story the unique, personal, exciting or even booooring touch in a way a PC only can dream to accomplice. IE: hard work=BSOD every 2 min or so.

    With our fantazillions of gray cells, or lack of, we will all be sort of different and there will always be a “need” for exiting non AI writers, if not for anything else then to give the AI’s and ourself new ideas and excitement we all crave in our so life.
    When all this is said:- (and by now redacted down to it’s bare minimum… oh, I just realize I could have ended after the first 3 lines, sorry but I’m not gonna rewrite this) -In the future.. I do hope an AI would be able to give our grand children new arc’s of pirateaba’s TWI for many more generations to come. On that subject we should ask all readers to head over to http://www.patreon.com/pirateaba and sign up, just to help the original to stay with us for a long LONG time…

    As a side note… I love reading two-three arc’s a week!! But if I had to I could maybe settle for less, like one or two every month or so. Don’t get me wrong, this got NOTHING to do with quality, it’s all about fear that the fast and steady release of arc’s may wear out the author faster then necessary. I like to keep TWI with me forever, and ever, and ever!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s