In the last few months, I’ve heard more and more about the new AI program, Chat GPT, that will write whatever you want it to and do it well. I admit my first reaction was annoyance that soon turned into anger. A computer could put me out of my job of writing my stories and selling my books. On top of that, using a computer to write for you is cheating. I don’t like cheaters.
Some of the writing groups I’m in talked about Chat GPT favorably. They said it would help us write better books. To me, writing a request for a robot to write a book is NOT writing. What comes the requester gets back is not writing, it’s programming. The best a “writer” could do with the requested response is edit it. The writer is no longer a writer, but an editor. I like editing, but I won’t editing mechanically generated writing.
So many people talked about how great the app is, I decided to try it. Not to write, but to get help with new taglines and book titles. I logged into Chat GPT and asked it for taglines about what I write in general. In return, it gave the five suggestions. Hummm, not bad. I asked for five more. Not too bad either. I ended up taking several of the suggestions, blending them, and coming up with a new tagline for my website.
Next, I tried it for a book title for my latest book. Coming up with great book titles is very hard for me, and I admit I need help with it. I typed in my request for a book title with my plot line. The app spit out five suggestions, none of which I liked. I reworded my request and got five more. Better. After about twenty-five suggested titles, I found two that when combined gave me what I wanted.
My experiment left me feeling better about Chat GPT. For me, it’s not so much a writing program, but a brain storming engine. It came up with ideas I could mull over, change, and rework until it suited me. It introduced verbiage I hadn’t thought about and maybe wouldn’t have. In a way, I’ve changed my mind about AI writing, but I would never write a book using it. In the time it takes to type in my request, wade through the suggestions, and edit them, I could write what I wanted and more from my imagination.
And that brings up what I most object about AI writing. In our efforts to make life easier, why do we want to quit using our brains for stuff like writing, reading, and so on? It reminds of when I was teaching and making my students use their brains instead of calculators. Parents and administrators had a fit that I wasn’t using technology (i.e., calculators) in my classes. My argument was anyone could use a calculator, but people who can use their brains for problem solving have the advantage. They have stronger, more flexible, more useful brains. It’s a muscle that needs working out to keep it in prime condition. It’s portable, needs no wi-fi connections or cell service, is rechargeable, programmable, upgradeable, and handy to have around if we only use it.
To me, AI writing is yet another way to let our brains atrophy. We don’t have to know grammar or how to convey our thoughts in writing because Chat GPT will do it for us. We don’t have to learn math anymore because we have calculators. We don’t have to read because we have audiobooks that read for us. We don’t have to read maps or know directions because we have GPS devices that tell us where to go. We don’t need imagination because we have streaming services and video games that entertain us. Why do we even need heads anymore? Their use is limited.
I still say people who use their heads have the unlimited advantage. They’re the ones who learn and know how to do things. The more you know, the more you can do. The more you can do, the better off you are.
I won’t be using Chat GPT to write books. My imaginations will come from a human source. No mining for rare minerals, plastic covers that will never biodegrade, or internet needed. Wait. I take that last one back. I use the internet for research and to publish my books. Maybe technology isn’t all bad. What’s bad is letting it do everything for you. Everything in moderation.
See you a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. Proverbs 22:29