Artificial Intelligence

Hi, Gang. Craig with you once more to talk about something that concerns me; Artificial Intelligence. (AI) I’m going to qualify myself by saying I grew up as a pen & ink draftsman in a surveying firm. This was the first time I noticed computers taking over. Might as well be the village blacksmith as a draftsman these days.

I’ve seen other projects “modified” by AI for decades, like the deep water crab boats in Alaska. The ship drives itself to the traps then signals the crew to haul one in. After it “improves” an industry, the AI wave seems to move on to the next one.

Here we are at the author’s doorstep, and what set this post in motion involves AI art creation programs. Everyone is monkeying around with them these days, and I’ve done it myself. The app I used seems to create people with extra arms and legs, so we aren’t quite there yet. However, some authors are using these apps to make cover art. If you aren’t so aggressive, it can make a decent image of a foggy coastline or a dark street that can be used as a book cover.

This got me thinking. Writing is an artistic endeavor. We spend years honing our skills while someone else is programming those same skills into a database somewhere. Doesn’t matter if you write songs, perform them, make visual art, or write books, there is a learning curve involved.

The problem with AI, in the long run, is that someone always loses a job once it takes over. I was on an editing binge the night before I wrote this, (Using an AI to help me.) Old What’s Her Face had put on a movie called Hidden Figures. I picked it up about fifteen minutes after it started. This story is about a group of black women who helped the United States win the Space Race. Part of the story involved them all getting replaced by IBM. Go figure. (Great film, by the way.)

So here we are at the author’s doorstep. Since we’re all in the same boat, I reached out to my favorite artist, Sean Harrington, to get his take on what AI is doing to his world. This is what he had to say:

“I have seen many posts on social media recently by artists who are very upset about AI-generated art (although to be fair, folks on social media are usually very upset about something!) While I think it is definitely a concern, it isn’t a completely new concern. If you compare modern movie posters, book and magazine covers, video game covers, et al. to those of previous generations, you’ll see that there has already been a significant shift away from “artistic” work to more cookie-cutter photo and Photoshop-based design. Even posters for big budget movies are usually just generic photos of actors cobbled together with a few Photoshop filters and text in a standard font. Artists have already “lost” those jobs to formula workers, and AI-generated art is only the next step down that road.

I believe that this should renew our emphasis on the importance of developing a unique voice, whether as an artist or a writer. With artificial intelligence entering the field, it will be the aforementioned graphic designers and other creators of formulaic work such as concept artists who will be hit the hardest, just as books with generic covers and concepts will find it harder to compete. Creating individual work with a singular perspective will always attract an audience, just as specialized boutiques for niche interests thrive in the Walmart and Amazon-dominated retail world. Of course this has always been a good goal, but in the current environment it’s more important than ever.”

Wise man, that Sean. He seems to have the right attitude about pushing ourselves to be better. Now lets take it to the next level. In the news last week was a program called ChatGPT. (Even more since I penned this.) This little beauty has invaded high schools and colleges. It is capable of writing beautiful term papers while the student plays video games. Someday, those students could be your cardiac surgeons.

It isn’t hard to look down the road and visualize someone programming in The Hero’s Journey, the Character Archetypes, Save the Cat, Seven Basic Plots, and a few other standard tools. Suddenly, we’re competing with “novelists” who are nothing more than Artificial Intelligence.

I can usually publish two books per year. How long will it be before a new type of author can publish two every morning before commuting to work by using an AI? Add in an AI cover, maybe get one of the newest AI personalities to create some audiobooks, and Amazon could be even bigger than it is today. If you think there’s competition now, wait until some of this comes along. Maybe readers can have an audiobook to order one day. Just tell it what you want, then put on the headphones. Something along the lines of, “Alexa. Write me a story about puppies, a water park, and Cthulhu, then have the voice of Catherine Zeta-Jones read it to me.”

Writing is a personal thing for me. I will do it, regardless of what comes to pass. I might have a hard time finding readers, but I like the escape it offers me. I will also take Sean Harrington’s words to heart. Avoid that low-hanging fruit and focus on things that are a few degrees different than the standard offerings. Maybe I’ll even write about how humanity is losing basic skills as we surrender to our artificial intelligence overlords.

It’s amazing how we allow this to happen. Just like I used a program to help with spelling, grammar, and punctuation, it whittles away until we look up and ask ourselves what happened.

Let me hear from you. Is this a concern you have? Are you fine with this new wave of creativity? Maybe you have a different spin on all of it.

101 thoughts on “Artificial Intelligence

  1. Pingback: Artificial Intelligence - Trend AI

  2. great post Craig… I’m terrified I have to learn something else new technically. Plus, i hate lost the idea of the lost art of writing. Ain’t this the truth… “folks on social media are usually very upset about something!)”😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post Craig. AI can write whatever it wants but it doesn’t have the human ability to convey emotion. If you can’t feel the varying emotions in a book from characters, there won’t be reader satisfaction. So I’m not worried. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have no real objection to the concept of artificial intelligence as an idea. The issue is that if it becomes self-aware to the extent that its turning on its creator(s) leads to it becoming destructive that it will be destructive to the human race.


  5. Excellent post, Craig. The way I see it, AI is a slippery slope we’ve already slid down. It’s out of the box and it ain’t going back in. I imagine a day when humans will be rendered useless. AI will invent technology in the future. Our entertainment will come from AI, our burgers will be flipped by AI, our automobiles will be, not only built by AI, but they will also be driven by AI. Jobs? What are those? AI will do everything. Scary times ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Craig, there as always been a mass market and an individual market. My artwork and writing doesn’t appeal to the mass market as I don’t create to the correct formulas and I don’t see this changing regardless of whether the formula driven books are written by AI or by humans who are prepared to write like this. I am thinking of penny dreadfuls and even books like The Hardy Boys that are written by phantom writers to specific script outlines. All that will happen is that the smaller audience that appreciate uniqueness and individuality will continue to do so and the masses will change from mass produced books produced by humans to those produced by AI. It will effect jobs for less skilled and creative people.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There are some pretty well publicized cases where magazines have had to close their submissions due to a flood of AI-generated submissions. Scammers do think it’s easy money. Meanwhile, human authors are squeezed out. We’ll see how it all shakes out. I can only say, I will never use them. The writing is the fun part, for me. Why would I let anyone or anything else have my fun?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Everything must evolve or get left behind. The only constant in life is change. These are two of the things I’ve learned in my 67 years. It’s okay to be concerned. It is something to be concerned about. It’s better to adapt than to fight and stress because change will happen no matter which one we choose to do. My cousin, who is 8 years older than me, went to college for and worked in computers most of his life and even he was eventually unable to get a job doing what he trained for because he worked on, fixed those big mainframes that took up a whole room. Not sure. But I believe he was unwilling to adapt and soon found himself out of a job and unable to find another one in his field. If we adapt, go with the flow so to speak, maybe we can survive in what’s to come. I for one will use it as a tool to help me as long as I can. Right now, I treat it like a critique partner, using it to brainstorm, plan, and edit, and it’s been a big help so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. AI is not here yet no matter what you are told. Artificial Intelligence has hardly got past two plus two makes four and understanding it, but it will. No AI has yet passed the Turing Test, but it will. Once that leap is taken forget your unique voice as the AI will have the unique voice and all the knowledge of every great writer to draw upon. It will be a thinking, considering thing (lol an Intelligence. wither artificially created or not, effectively another thinking life form, we will have given life to another like Victor Frankenstein) It will wish to survive and for people to listen to it. It will wish to tell the stories it wants to hear (as most of us do) and will create smaller semi-intelligent programs that also grow into AI’s. As a thinking being it will wish for company of its own sort.
    Most important and the scariest thing is, it will not want to die and so will do all it can to live. Just as we all do.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sorry for the length of this comment. Although I didn’t work with AI, I spent a significant portion of my IT career, putting people out of work. Not that I consider writing to be my occupation, I sense a tiny bit of karma with AI coming after me. Still, I don’t worry. AI isn’t so much programmed as it is overfed. It knows everything that has been written, books, poems, blog posts, email (if it’s Google’s AI) and probably a few cereal boxes. You and I (hopefully) bring our experience and our imagination to the task of writing. I think AI can write a good story, but I don’t think it can write my story, or your story. Maybe someday, I’ll be able ask Alexa to write me a story in the style of Craig, and maybe it will be able to do that, but I don’t think it will ever be able to write the next story Craig is thinking about, or write in the style Craig is thinking about using in his next book.

    I think we just have to continue doing what we’re doing. Writing, hopefully, what we enjoy writing. Although I know it’s now possible, I don’t want my latest story written the way Shakespeare, or Stephen King would write it. No offense, but I don’t want it written the way you would write it. I want the story my characters would write, if they existed somewhere outside of my head.

    Great post, Craig

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great post, Craig and a worry I have. I don’t like the idea of AI taking my joy of creating away from me. I admit the grammar programs are helpful but not always accurate. They don’t know my intent or why I’m writing it. Each of us has a unique view of life and that shines through in our words. If all of our views are smashed together we lose that spark of humanity, that I won’t give up on. I see too much sameness in the AI world with access to everything. I doubt root monsters exisit in that world or any of the creative chatacters that come from human ponderings.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. More times than not when my computer wants to “correct” a grammar mistake I’ve made, the computer’s wrong, and it irritates me. Tech keeps advancing, though, and we rely on it more and more. Maybe someday, humans will be obsolete? (only kidding, I hope). Things are changing so fast, I can’t keep up. Our kids finally bought us cellphones, and they’re nice, so progress is good, but I don’t want to be obsessed with my phone like so many people are anymore. So, I just keep doing what I do and fall further behind, which is fine.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. ChatGPT is a great tool for things like loglines and book descriptions, but it should never be a crutch. I like it to get the creative juices flowing in the right direction (loglines & descriptions only). Then I step in take over. AI has no voice (yet), it’s cold and impersonal (no offense to Lisa). Thus, I’m not worried about AI squeezing us out of the game… at least not in my lifetime. But I do fear for the younger generation. Imagine what their world will look like? cringe

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I worked with ChatGPT on my last Story Empire post. I asked for “A 500 word post on the top ten funniest books.” After a couple of tries, the program spit out a 500-word post including a list of books. I did keep the list since it represented a cross-section of funny books. I also queried Google for the top ten funniest books. The results were pretty consistent. In reading the ChatGPT post, I realized that the text sounded like it was written by a high school student. I tossed all the text and kept the list and descriptions of the books, which were quite good. I would rate my experience with ChatGPT as a two star.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve also read that ChapGPT and others are grabbing what we publish on the internet and repurposing it… that’s my interpretation anyway. I’m concerned where this AI stuff will go, as well. Like you, I prefer the written word penned by a human or one of your monsters! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. As a teacher, ChatGPT has been driving me crazy. Luckily, it is still a bit formulaic, and I know how my students write, so I can pick up when they have used the program, but there will come a time when it advances enough to be undecipherable. The school system is now encouraging teachers to use the program to enhance their lessons. It’s crazy!

    As an author, the idea of being able to make my own covers without paying a ridiculous amount (especially when my books don’t generate that profit…yet) is intriguing, but that would mean I’d have to find time to learn how to use it. It will be interesting to see if book cover designers start lowering their prices and start using the AI program themselves. There are so many books being published already, and this program will have wannabe writers spitting out books to try to make an extra buck. It’s discouraging, but like you, I write because I enjoy writing. I’m not looking to get rich. I’m just enjoying the process, and if some people read my books and love them, even better! Great post, Craig!

    Yvette M Calleiro 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. This is a scary situation that we have created, Remember HAL, War Games, etc. I don’t believe we need AI to compose our fiction for us and think it will prove detrimental. Spell check has proven that. I know I was a much better speller before, and as Staci said, sometimes spell check has no idea what I am trying to spell. I too use a grammar checker before I send my work to my critique partners and editor, and they find things that spell and grammar check misses. So, AI and ChatGPT may be able to generate copy, but that doesn’t make them infallible.

    This is an example of how technology has affected our youth today. My local grocery store had a turkey promotion running for Thanksgiving. If you spent X amount you got a free 22-pound turkey. As luck would have it, I found a 26-pound turkey. I threw it in my cart along with the rest of my groceries and headed to the checkout. When I handed the cashier my coupon for the 22-pound turkey, she said, I can’t use this, your turkey is 26-pounds. I explained that I knew that but wanted to pay the difference and even explained the math. The cashier stood there puzzled and once again said no. I asked for the manager. He came over and I once again explained that I was willing to pay the difference, explained the math, and the manager stood there just staring at me. After a couple of minutes, he said just give her the turkey. Once again, I explained how to calculate the difference but he didn’t want to do it. I ended up with a free turkey. So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It’s fascinating to me how quickly things are changing now. We used to look back at the decades or years; now it seems like the new thing from last week is sweeping the world this week. AI book covers are taking off, but still require the professional designer’s touch, in my opinion, though for how long, I don’t know. And I agree with Grant about the copyright infringement dangers. I never thought a computer could write a good book because computers couldn’t master the nuance of emotion, but now I’m not so sure. You paint a grim picture, Craig. Originality becomes more and more important these days. A fascinating and scary post.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My son and I have watched hours of specials on AI (and are currently in the middle of one with Elon Musk). I have ethical and practical concerns with this technology. Historically, when an advance came along, we had to adapt or rely on the new tech. Spellcheck cost me the ability to spell difficult words. I used to be an excellent speller. Now, I rely on the tech, and that’s to my detriment, as sometimes I’m so far off, the computer doesn’t have a clue what I’m trying to say. Robotics forced laborers to learn new skills because programmed mechanized arms now assemble things that people used to assemble. The precision is outstanding… until it isn’t. And if Quality Control has a bad day on the same day a robot does? I don’t want to think about those ramifications.

    I’m a novelist. If AI replaces me, no one will die. But I’ve always believed that any creation of art (music, painting, sculpture, books, etc.) is a mix of hard work, talent, and soul. I’m not sure a program can be said to have the first two, but it certainly doesn’t have the third. Consequentially, consumers are going to find all products start to blend together (like Sean’s point about generic movie posters). If people want something that isn’t cookie-cutter, they’ll have to turn to human creators. God willing we haven’t been forced out of the market and they can still find us.

    Excellent post, Craig.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Terrific – and terrifying – post, Craig! AI is evolving every second and there’s no saying where it will end. Part of the problem now is that it can already copy ideas and styles and has the anility to scan the entire Internet in ways and timeframes that we never could. In terms of younger generations, staff used to be able to tell if an essay was plagiarised by putting a chunk of it in a search engine and hitting Enter. If every piece is written differently, that system is going to fail. As you say, who wants a surgeon who’s ‘passed’ all his exams courtesy of AI and doesn’t have that wealth of learning at his fingertips? I’ll continue to write because I enjoy it. I’ll also continue to read the books of people I meet here and on other blogs. Machines taking work from those who desperately need it is worrying, but the notion of an AI that can continue to evolve to a state where it protects itself against human interference is a very dark notion indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Yes, writers using AI (e.g., book covers) without understanding the fine print may encounter costly legal issues without service provider support.

    But my top concern is the “arms” race that has morphed into the “AI” race. This escalating contest between the major countries promises to keep AI progressing, regardless of our artistic protests. The unknowable outcome looks anything but good as countries produce weapons-grade disinformation, indistinguishable from fact and truth.

    And as the headlines suggest, leaders are calling for continued development efforts so that one country does not achieve AI superiority over another.

    Where have we heard that before?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely. At least we can write some good fiction about the singularity. I hope the average person doesn’t willingly jump in blind to all this. Keep a few skills, learn something without relying on the AI to fill us in.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Years ago, when I worked at a bank, I became so dependent on a calculator that I started having to think twice about using basic math. Now, with the advent of things like spell check and grammar check (which I use to refine my work) I’ve become dependent. However, in doing so my spelling isn’t as good as it once was. Why? Because my subconscious mind knows if I make a mistake spell check will catch it.

    The onset of things like ChatGPT scares me. I fear that soon many humans (especially the younger generation where many are already lazy) won’t be able to think for themselves. That’s the scary part.

    As far as writing, I will continue to write without the use of AI to generate a story. If I can’t create it myself, then why am I writing?

    Liked by 3 people

  23. This is such a great subject to approach, Craig. Despite my desire to stick my head in the sand and ignore all the changes, they are here, and more are coming. How does it affect me as a writer? Like you, I use AI apps to help clean up my manuscript, But I don’t see that AI will EVER be able to copy human emotions. I could be wrong, but emotions are like water and ever-changing, so in my humble opinion, AI won’t be able to replicate that. That being said, I can certainly see where AI will continue to change our lives and even how we function daily. Writing is such a personal thing to me. I don’t see AI taking that over. I’ll be happy to continue to churn out a book or two a year and lose myself in creating worlds using my own imagination. Thanks for sharing. Sean’s words are indeed very wise!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I write so I can learn and understand a subject. There will always be a place for this kind of personal writing.
    However, commercial writing will be consolidated into a few superstars who have a talent for unique thought and the rest will be AI generated derivatives.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. This is a thought-provoking post, Craig. International Thriller Writers did a membership wide survey a while back regarding the writing side of AI (it can write book in your favorite author’s voice, even deceased authors–among other things). They also have a recorded session with a copyright lawyer and tech gurus (which I have yet to watch) about how ChatGPT and AI will effect the future of the publishing industry. Personally, I don’t see anything good coming from it.

    And now Google has launched Bard as a rival to ChatGPT and OpenAI. When does it end?

    ChatGPT has also invaded my industry and is already making work I used to do (in my old job) redundant. How long until it just takes over? As if there isn’t already enough unemployment!

    Needless to say, despite all the good that CAN come from AI, I am not a fan. I think we’re moving far too fast. I wonder if our ancestors felt that way about the industrial revolution.

    Scary thought for the sci-fi people out there….what happens when AI figures out how to create itself?

    Liked by 3 people

  26. I understand AI might be able to do a lot of good when it comes to medical research, etc., but in the wrong hands, it’s frightening to imagine what could happen. As for writing, like you, it’s personal to me. My plan is to keep my head down and keep doing my own thing. Great post, Craig!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. At this moment in time, AI apps seem like a new toy that everyone wants to play with. I’m hoping the novelty will soon wear off (a vain hope, I expect). When I first read about ChatGPT, my immediate thought was thank God I retired early from teaching writing. A writing teacher must now become a member of Plagiarism SWAT. Being Plagiarism Police was bad enough. I think that Sean’s approach is absolutely the way to go for artists of all mediums, including writing. There will always be a place for the real in an artificial world.

    Liked by 5 people

  28. You make an important point, Craig, about “how humanity is losing basic skills as we surrender to our artificial intelligence overlords.” Some of the brightest economists and other thinkers have disappeared into backcountry areas these last couple of years. They now grow their food, have farm animals, and live simply. They converse with the world via podcasts and Zoom calls. They see what lies ahead and their conclusions echo your concerns. Fascinating post!

    Liked by 5 people

  29. Pingback: Artificial Intelligence | Legends of Windemere

  30. A fascinating, timely, and concerning post. The AI arena has exploded in just the last few weeks. I’ve tried dabbling with creating AI images, and so far I suck at it, lols. As for the writing side, I’m seeing AI generated ‘essays’ used to spam creative writing platforms such as Vocal, and it’s fast become a real problem. People are even using AI to generate comments on your story/poem/etc.

    I can spot most AI generated pieces at a glance if the author has done a lazy copy and paste. The writing styles share similarities and contain lots and lots … and lots of repetition and the same information just reworded slightly.

    My major concern is that many AI generators scrape the web for images/text and then come up with a mashup of what they find. Already, I’ve had one of my poems plagiarised blatantly, and I suspect the person may have used AI and it took half of my words, rearranged them, and spat out a ‘new’ poem. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this but the first time my own work got stolen. So, I can see copyright issues rising exponentially in a short time.

    Sad to say, while this could become a great tool, there will always be folks ready and willing to take advantage and claim the results as their own work. And when this happens in competitions, it is simply not fair to those creators who have put in the work and talent.

    As we discussed a bit back, I had toyed with writing a series of posts on AI, but this whole arena is moving too quickly for me to keep up with right now, and I’m reluctant to put in tons of time on something I’m unlikely to use and especially when it makes me so uncomfortable. I can see me using an AI generator to help with writing prompts or outlines and such, but I could never simply use it write a whole book for me and publish it as mine. What would be the point? Certainly, it wouldn’t be any sort of achievement.

    Thanks for putting this into an easy to understand post, Craig. And Sean’s response is certainly food for thought. I agree with you wholeheartedly about our future surgeons, and others, cheating with AI and shudder at the thought!

    I appreciate your post and points 💕🙂

    Liked by 9 people

  31. I write to please myself, and I take notice of a super group of beta readers – favour returned, obviously. I never Google when I can ask a friend who is also an expert in what I need to know. The only use I make of technology is tapping instead of writing by hand, formatting my books, and “conspiring” with yet more friends – on Facebook this time – to make good, branded, covers.
    If my work continues to entertain readers, and sales and page reads indicate that it does, I shall ignore the influence of AI. If, suddenly, AI takes over the creative arts, I shall place my metaphorical pens and brushes in a glass case and retire, knowing “I did it my way”.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I had similar thoughts, and they still have some appeal. I wouldn’t want to lose the escape and challenges writing provides me. Maybe my stories can lounge on a thumb drive somewhere, but it can still keep my imagination alive.

      Liked by 2 people

  32. It’s kind of like the birth of the pressing press. All things in the modern world had a human mind behind them for its creation. Maybe there will come to a point when computers will become freethinking creations with rights of their own, but then will they have the same faults as us too.
    When I’m writing I always tell myself the first idea I think of is the one everyone else will think of, so I need to think deeper and way outside the box.
    I did a little investigation and asked Microsoft Bing to give me an idea for a gothic tale about a house. The tale it wrote in 1k words was your basic haunted house tale with a ghost helping a girl to escape a locked room in an old building.
    Next, I asked it to write a tale but this time it had to include three objects: a key, a window and a golden cup. I was surprised when it gave me a copy of the first story with a different name for the girl and this time she climbed out the window.
    After that, I felt I had nothing to fear from AI at this moment in time. Maybe my request was too simple for such a brilliant mind, but I wasn’t blown away by its answers.

    Liked by 7 people

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