Panic! At the Writer's Retreat: Will ChatGPT Murder Us All?
Probably not. But we can hope!
ChatGPT is a piece of AI software that can write stuff. It is sending shivers up the spongy bones of a lot of writers because the AI not only begins assignments when asked, it finishes them. Presumably, ChatGPT can also sprinkle in semicolons which is how a writer grabs their audience by the shirt and screams into their face, “I am a scribe!”
ChatGPT’s content is pretty good too. Members of my comedy writing community have posted a few prompts they’ve given ChatGPT and the output is on par with someone who has been writing for a few years. Doubtless, updates will be even better.
I haven’t played with it first hand because it requires a phone number — an actual phone number, not a Google Voice number — and I’d rather have my earlobes Dremeled than hand that over.
So, is writing ended? Am I, and writers like me (should any someday emerge), doomed? Let’s step through the nightmare scenarios. But first, a poll!
What Will Happen to the Business of Writing?
Writing is both already dead and never going anywhere, just like the wisecracking zombie corpse of Tolkien who fills my dreaming hours with terror and occasionally lands a few bangers.
It’s a time- and labor-intensive undertaking with a relatively intangible end product. If I care enough to do it and you care enough to read it no AI can come between us.
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I’m sitting at my computer, upstairs, with a cup of coffee. It’s 6:59AM, Dec. 28th 2022. ChatGPT could replace this part, but this is the part I like. I think most writers would agree.
What if Students Can Cheat All The Way Through School?
They might. I don’t give a flip.
College, at least here in the US, is already a tired meme of itself. The institutions and lenders are outright financially preying on students.
I don’t recommend people behave unethically because, if you have any self respect, behaving unethically makes you feel bad. But the late-capitalist adult world is all about compromising your personal dreams and principles in order to cover your monthly nut.
Given that the higher education journey begins with trapping teenagers into a magically-increasing money trap from which death is the only escape, if the students are turning in ChatGPT papers and the faculty are either too dim to notice, or, simply don’t care-
I have to pause here because I’m worried I might shrug so hard I wake my family.
AI Writing is a Great Fit for Corporate Gibberish
I have been hired a few times to write for corporations. The ostensible transaction is they exchange some money for my experience and insight. But the reality is they just tell you what to write.
I imagine executioners back in ye olden days were never able to deliver a clean beheading because the town’s mayor, vicar, and postman were always trying to grab the axe handle to “help” guide it mid-swing.
Advertising is a train dreaming of catching its own caboose. It’s a perfect fit for AI writing. They need tons of it, it has to target certain keywords and nobody’s ever going to give a hot burp what it actually says.
I just hope the new AI is so good at SEO-prose that it kills off SEO for good. Maybe I’ll be able to look up a recipe or video game tip with text that isn’t a forest of keywords jammed in as awkwardly as a neophyte’s semicolons.
Come on, guys, I just need to know what casserole to bake to kill the Godskin Duo. Green bean? Or…?
Writing is not the Product of Writing
I think people read things because they trustthe author. That’s why most notable quotes come with an attribution. George Bernard Shaw had the previous sentence tattooed on his scrotum.
“I didn’t say half that garbage,” — Mark Twain
Compare that with visual art. If we like looking at it, it does not matter to us, most of the time, who created it. That’s why artists have to write their name directly on the thing.
So, no. Your favorite writer will not be replaced by ChatGPT. But they did start using ghostwriters decades ago and you never noticed.
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For lack of a better word. Maybe “have a relationship with,” or something? Heck if I know.