Give Thanks to Our AI Overlords
This Week In Writing, we celebrate Thanksgiving and dive into the ever-improving AI-generated content.
A few weeks ago, Clive Thompson pondered how many Medium stories have been written by AI. It’s an intriguing question that I think about every time I review publication submissions that feel slightly… off.
In my experiments with AI writing, there were tell-tale signs content was generated and not written: lack of linked sources, lack of cohesion, overly simplified voice. But, as I’ve been more and more impressed with AI image generation, I figured I’d play with AI writing again.
I was impressed.
Five minutes after signing up for a free trial of copy.ai on my phone, I typed a stream-of-consciousness title and prompt, and I clicked generate. The prompt was,
The future on social media is much like the Game of Thrones. Right now, the only thing missing is a dragon. (Ironically, there's a silly typo that slightly changed the meaning of my intended sentence.)
Within about a minute, the AI created a complete blog outline. Had I felt like writing, the basic framework was there. Yet, I didn’t feel like writing. Instead, I told the system to use the outline and create the entire post. A minute or so later and copy.ai generated nearly 900 words of witty content right on my phone.
The content was pretty detailed and, truthfully, felt like something I would have written. Check out this Twitter zinger:
Twitter is the world’s largest public discourse platform. It’s a place for people to vent their frustrations, have political debates, share opinions, and share links to articles about whatever it is that they’re upset about.
The AI even generated analogies, which I find both impressive and scary:
So what will happen to the seven kingdoms of social media? Will they merge into one realm? Will they break apart into smaller fiefdoms and duchies? Only time will tell.
Coming back to Clive’s original question, I think it will soon be very difficult to tell how many AI-generated stories are on Medium. While the best tools require a small financial investment, more companies are investing in AI writing technology which will continue to improve the technology. As I write this, Notion just announced they’re entering the market (join the waiting list and help bump me up a few spots).
With the continuously improving quality, there will be ethical questions about AI-generated content. Namely, should someone be able to profit off something they didn’t write? As a publication editor, do I want to publish something someone didn’t write? I don’t know the answers to the questions yet, but they are worth exploring. One thing I do know is that anything I generate will be identified as such.
What do you think about AI-generated writing? Drop a comment or join the Substack chat thread.
This Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the States. It’s a day we celebrate things we’re grateful for and eat a lot of food. It’s also the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.
ProWritingAid has been a long-time supporter and friend of The Writing Cooperative. They’re currently running a 50% off sale, which includes their lifetime subscription. Sign up with my affiliate link to take advantage of a fantastic deal and support my writing at the same time. It’s truly a win-win to be thankful for.
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This Week’s Featured Articles
Thankfulness For Writers by Margery Bayne
We are given open opportunities — such as joining Medium — that are ours to take advantage of to the best of our ability. It is important — though perhaps more obvious — to be thankful for those things.
How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping The Future Of Copywriting by Rui Alves
But as a seasoned copywriter, I don’t think you should be afraid of algorithms taking over the world. While some people worry about AI replacing writers altogether, I see it as a tool for helping us be better at our jobs.
Should Artificial Intelligence Have The Right To Freedom Of Speech? by Walter Rhein
It’s really hard to write something and convince anyone that what you’re saying is true. It’s virtually impossible to convince anyone of truth when a mob of 10,000 robots is chanting lies so loudly you can’t even be heard.
I am both disheartened and frightened by this prospect. AI may be embryonic but it's come a long way, even in a year. I'm not necessarily concerned about the technology itself, but the people who will leverage it. Is this the future of publishing? How about the copywriters and essayists who rely on this work? Will they be obsolete? Will the lack of technique even matter anymore? Will there be nothing left to master? What will become of writing education? Will editors be relegated to essentially serve imposters (until they become obsolete too)? Fuck this.
A-I generated writing is cheating. Writing should be about art, craft and creativity. I would rather develope and use my God-given talents. In my experience, the easy way is rarely the right way to go. Writing is best when human emotion comes through. A-I generated content will never have a soul.