“Not In My Profession” (NIMP) is the new NIMBY
While at this year’s RMFW conference in Denver, I picked up loads of writing craft tips, re-wrote the logline for the second book in my Chrom Y series, and deepened relationships with other authors. However, the most thought-provoking discussions surrounded AI and its potential consequences on the writing profession.
I don’t mean to imply that all authors have the same perspectives on these topics, but many voiced their opinions. Some of my takeaways include:
1) Authors don’t believe AI is sufficiently robust to create high-quality articles, short stories, and novels.
My take: All technological advancements come in phases, and AI authors are in their infancy. I don’t know how long it will take before AI masters the creative aspects of writing. But pull up your undies—it’s coming.
2) Authors think it’s okay to use AI to create inexpensive covers, defray copy editors’ costs, and banter ideas around instead of using a human developmental editor but don’t want to allow AI-generated products in contests, competitive anthologies, screenwriting, or commercially sold books and stories.
My take: Seems a bit hypocritical that authors are okay with AI taking other peoples’ jobs but not their own. I’d love to see an anthology with the best stories included, whether generated by humans or AI (if there is full disclosure about who the author is).
3) Authors think AI-written products are rife with falsehoods and plagiarism.
My take: While these problems may diminish over time (as we can code more parameters/limitations around the AI’s work), this seems like an opportunity for a newly expanding career path. With more articles, stories, and longer works created by AI, the world may need more fact-checkers and editors who modify the AI’s baseline product to improve accuracy and meaningfulness.
4) Authors believe some writers will use AI-generated work and take credit for it.
My take: There will always be cheaters. However, I trust the vast majority of authors to self-police and disclose whether most of their work was AI-generated—especially if the industry adopts well-crafted definitions of AI-generated versus AI-assisted work.
5) Authors say an AI’s creative process is very different than a human’s.
My take: AI reaches out to multiple resources and borrows or replicates ideas to amalgamate it’s work. Humans do basically the same thing. When I write a sci-fi book, I start with an idea and develop a plot, design characters, and build a world around that idea. I draw on many sources for my ideas. My characters replicate behaviors I’ve seen. I talk with professionals in fields where I don’t have expertise (e.g., pharmacists, law enforcement professionals, physicians). While I don’t copy other’s work, my research and recalled life experiences flesh out my story in much the same way an AI would when creating it’s story.
6) Authors believe AI-generated work borrows from human authors without providing compensation.
My take: This is a tricky subject and isn’t new. For decades, the music and movie industries have faced challenges with co-opting tunes, lyrics, themes, characters, images, etc. I suspect we’ll need to let the lawyers battle this out. Further exacerbating this problem is the legal premise that says only humans can copyright works of authorship. So who owns an AI’s product, and can someone sue AI if it steals their work?
That being said, when a sci-fi author relies on tech created and institutionalized by George Lucas or Gene Roddenberry do the authors give credit or compensate those pioneers?
7) Authors commonly point out that AI isn’t creating anything new.
My take: I wonder if the same can be said about most stories. Don’t authors use common themes? Haven’t people said there are no new stories—just retelling in different ways?
In the coming years, AI will likely replace loads of service workers (e.g., order takers, food delivery staff, bookkeepers, tax preparers, and rudimentary medical and legal staff). AI is already writing routine letters, bantering with authors about plot ideas, proofreading, and suggesting line edits. While AI may not fully replicate the creativity inherent in human authors, it may come very close to the best and surpass the mediocre.
I suspect my views aren’t universal. Is there ever an occasion when the whole planet is on the same page? I look forward to seeing how this new authoring advancement shakes out.