Traditional Publishing

Opinion: As a writer I don’t despair about AI — it can’t replicate our imaginations – Monday January 1, 2024

When I first encountered generative AI at a law seminar two years ago, I had the passing thought, as a novelist and critic, that it could actually be good for fiction written by humans — at least the kind of fiction I like.

Just think: Machines would potentially standardize prose in a contemporary fiction landscape that already tends to value minimalist writing, and the ease with which robots might reproduce simple sentences and formulaic plots would mean that the stylists, the eccentrics, the strangely passionate human authors would finally stand out. This optimism was quickly defeated by the realization that one of my day jobs, as a ghostwriter, would almost certainly become automated.

At my mother’s house that evening here in Northern California, I ranted about this development in a society that already devalues art and the printed word. I preached about how ridiculous it was that artificial intelligence companies and startups were creating meaningless applications that reinforce layers of racial bias and leave a heavy carbon footprint, rather than investing that money and time into, say, solutions to mass incarceration and climate change.

My mother has had a long successful career in tech and remains involved in the field of AI. She’s one of the most moral and wise humans that I know. Unfazed by my argument, she said, thoughtfully, “Yes, ChatGPT will probably change things.”

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