Updated: Jul 14
Will authors be replaced?
El Niño is back, first time in seven years, and running wild with extreme weather and record-breaking temperatures. It made me think if one day AI (Artificial Intelligence) would be able to help find solutions to the world’s challenges with climate change. It also made me wonder if a chatbot could write a novel? Well, I took out my crystal ball, looked intently into it, absorbed its aura of prognostication, and concluded that one day AI will write a best-seller.
I’m certain that by now you’ve heard of AI and specifically, ChatGPT, an AI language model that can respond to questions and compose written content, including articles, social media posts, essays, code, emails and who knows what else is yet to come.
There are many issues surrounding AI. Jobs will change and human beliefs and values will be re-examined as we gain greater understanding of how technology can serve mankind and not the other way around. For me, the scary thing is that as a society we are not fully prepared for what’s coming. The pace at which we can adapt is too slow for the technology’s advancement. How will human nature allow this technology to permeate our world?
ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) was created by OpenAI, an AI research company, and launched in November 2022. A form of ChatGPT has been around for a while. You’re probably familiar with its sibling model, InstructGPT, such as Alexa, the intelligent personal assistant that can answer questions with useful information, play music, etc. Everyone’s getting on the AI train, even the Beatles. AI is being used to separate John Lennon's voice from an old cassette. Paul McCartney is spearheading the project that will have AI learn Lennon’s voice which will then be used to create a new song to be released later this year. A chatbot can generate a lot of information making research for a writer easier and faster. But it cannot plunge into our imagination, look at humanity’s imperfections, nor grapple with pain and survive to tell a compelling story. It also cannot read between the lines to interpret subtle language cues such as body language and one-on-one interaction – responses that go beyond the results of specific prompts. But this too may change. AI engineers continue to push the boundaries. A CBS 60 Minutes piece titled, The Revolution, explored the human-like side of AI with particular attention to BARD, Google’s chatbot, introduced to compete with Microsoft’s chatbot. The difference is that BARD does not search for answers on the internet. It teaches itself how to communicate with humans, like an equal. After given a prompt of just a few words BARD responded easily, in seconds and created a story, even with characters it invented. Apparently, BARD had read everything on the internet and then created a language model capable of creating the story and, even though it is not capable of emotion, it certainly appeared that it was. I don’t have access to BARD, but I decided to sign up to the free version of ChatGPT and take the chatbot for a spin. Since I had already begun work on my second book, LETTERS OF REDEMPTION, I used parts of the storyline for the prompt.
My prompt: Write a story about a young Italian man in 1940 who does not want to go to war during WW2. Chatbot Response (excerpt) In the year 1940, in a quaint Italian village nestled among rolling hills and sun-drenched vineyards, lived a young man named Matteo.
With his olive skin and deep brown eyes, Matteo possessed a spirit as vibrant as the landscapes that surrounded him. He had dreams of becoming an artist, capturing the beauty of his beloved Italy on canvas and sharing it with the world. However, fate had other plans for Matteo. The winds of war blew fiercely across Europe, and Italy had become entangled in the grips of World War II. Young men were being called upon to join the military and defend their country. Matteo's family, like many others, believed it was their duty to serve, but his heart yearned for a different path. … Through his art, Matteo captured the rustic charm of the villages, the magnificence of the ancient ruins, and the vibrant spirit of the Italian people. His paintings told stories of love, joy, and the unbreakable bond between families and communities. With each stroke, he brought life to the landscapes and breathed hope into the hearts of those who gazed upon his creations ... I was surprised at the speed of the response as well what chatbot wrote. I noticed some inaccuracies, but this was related to my prompt. So, I gave another prompt for clarification. I replied to HAL (the ship's computer in the 1968 sci-fi novel and movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey). I wrote: “There's no war yet in Italy. It's everywhere else in Europe. Matteo wants to work on the land not paint. Make it better.” HAL’s Response (excerpt) Apologies for the confusion. Let's reimagine the story to align with the correct historical context. In the year 1940, as war raged across Europe, Italy stood on the precipice of uncertainty. In a serene village nestled amidst rolling hills and fertile farmland, lived a young man named Matteo. He had grown up witnessing the turmoil in neighboring countries and understood the devastating consequences of war. Matteo's heart longed for peace, and he yearned to dedicate his life to working the land, nurturing its bounty, and fostering a sense of harmony within his community. … With a strong resolve, Matteo immersed himself in his work. From the early morning dew to the twilight's embrace, he toiled in the fields with unwavering dedication. He honed his skills, embracing traditional wisdom while exploring innovative techniques to enhance agricultural productivity. … As their village flourished, word of Matteo's exceptional farming practices spread to neighboring communities. Farmers sought his guidance, eager to adopt sustainable methods and foster self-sufficiency. Matteo's passion for working the land became a beacon of hope, illuminating a path towards stability and resilience in the face of uncertainty. For some writers a response such as this might be good enough to get started on a story. But can you go back and forth with the chatbot repeatedly until you get your vision of the story written down? It didn’t work for me. There was something missing. I wasn’t engaged with the protagonist. There was more telling than showing. But I’m sure, over time (and that time may be sooner than we think) AI will have mastered storytelling and there will be plenty of best sellers from which to choose. But one thing is certain, once I complete and publish my story, LETTERS OF REDEMPTION, the dedication page will read: This story has been created and written entirely by a human.
What's your take on AI? Would you read books written by a bot? Do you or have you used ChatGPT at work, at home? I'd love to hear from you. Scroll down to add your comment.
Until next time!