September 10, 2023

What Happens When Writers Use AI Tools?

What Happens When Writers Use AI Tools

Ann Kjellberg’s recent article in Observer dives into the debate surrounding AI writing tools like ChatGPT. She voices understandable concerns about these new technologies. However, some of the arguments seem contradictory or fail to fully appreciate AI’s potential.

On one hand, critics claim AI is too human-like, potentially propagating harmful biases. Yet on the other, they argue AI lacks human creativity and intention. As Kjellberg notes, “The danger of ChatGPT and its siblings is that it is nearly indistinguishable from the human product.” While true in limited cases, most experts agree we are far from AI matching human literary capabilities. Much hand-holding is still required, with the human playing editor to massage coherence and meaning.

More amusing are accusations that AI is too compliant, capable of generating toxic content if prompted. Of course, the AI has no moral compass — the guardrails are for us humans. AI merely reflects back patterns in its training data, which comes from us. The solution lies in curating better data sets and monitoring how we engage with these tools. The caution is warranted, but directed at the wrong party.

Kjellberg rightly points out that regulation lags, though expecting legislators to comprehensively govern emerging technology feels optimistic. Hybrid human-AI collaborations will likely continue marching ahead, boundaries blurring. Perhaps better self-regulation within research communities can pick up the slack.

Some argue AI creation only becomes art if passed off successfully as human-made — a conceptual Turing Test. But why can’t art exist on its own merits, regardless of creator? As AI capabilities improve, its contributions will become less distinguishable from our own. We may have to expand our definitions of art and authorship.

Kjellberg concludes with uncertainty about what we might be missing by not embracing AI’s opportunities. This hints at the most exciting possibility — that AI can open up entirely new creative frontiers. Rather than just mimicking human intelligence, AI can complement it in ways we can’t yet imagine. With an open and curious mindset, AI can become the paintbrush, not the painter, enabling artistic expression that reflects our essential humanity.


September 10, 2023 · #writing


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