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Writing with AI: Editor's Notes #384
February 08, 2023

Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior,
but then, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower.

—Alan Kay

In this issue:

1. Writing with AI
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. Errata

1.Writing with AI
If you have consumed news in the past month or two, you have likely been faced with the fact of a leap forward in Artificial Intelligence (AI) related to writing. As an editor and a former teacher, I hardly knew what to think, so I decided to do some research and then share my thoughts.

A note on how I am reporting out. Normally, I include links to important information. In this case, I am not linking to anything you could find on your own with a simple Web search because some email programs look askance at messages with "too many" links and put the offending email in the junk file. I want you to get this information, so I am linking only to sources you may not find without the links.

In November, Open AI released ChatGPT (Generated Pre-Trained Transformer) and by January 23, Microsoft had announced it was investing an additional US$10 billion in Open AI to further the research. The airwaves and print media were awash in information about ChatGPT, examples of what it could do, and speculation about how it would change our lives.

ChatGPT has been trained to understand normal speech and to hunt down online information when asked. It gives the user the information in normal language according to parameters the user gives it. That might be just a list of items or a whole book.

Like all other AI applications, ChatGPT has significant limitations. It cannot, for example, evaluate the truth of what it finds.

There is at least one app (GPTZero) recently developed by Edward Tian, a Canadian PhD student studying at Princeton in the US, that evaluates text for the likelihood of its being written by a human. It is available, but is also still being made more accurate. Open AI is also working on detection so teachers, professors, and others can be assured that humans, not bots, are writing the assignments.

Where does that put writers today? My first instinct was to think that ChatGPT would be helpful for nonfiction writers only. Since it can do more nuanced searches than current search engines (Google, Chrome, Safari, etc.), I can see it presenting some possibilities for research that a writer can follow up on, evaluate, and use in original material written in the old-fashioned way. For example, "Create a list of the top 10 print sources supporting the opinion that the world is likely facing a recession in 2023. Create another list of the top 10 print sources supporting the opinion that the world is unlikely to face a recession in 2023." The instructions could be much more complex. It could even ask for a suggested outline on a topic.

I didn’t think there was much a fiction writer could do with AI besides using it as an uber Google when researching something related to the story. Then I learned about someone who has already put a ChatGPT-generated novel on Amazon. The writer used AI and then altered the resulting novel. You can read an article about the process in Interesting Web site below.

Have you played with ChatGPT? Whether you have or not, what are your current thoughts about it and your role as a writer?

2.Tickled my funny bone
An artificially intelligent Oreo is one smart cookie.

3. Interesting Web site
This article outlines how one writer used Chat GPT to get him started on a novel that he has now put on Amazon. I found his process interesting. I’d love to hear what you think about the whole topic.

4. Writing prompt
Two options today.
The current state of AI has the world speculating what the future will hold. Write a piece about someone in the past who speculates about a future that you can see but your character can’t.

Write a piece that explains or shows which human characteristics have endured across time. Speculate whether AI will change those characteristics.

As always, I would love to see what you (or your AI) write.

PS. You could sign in to ChatGPS and prompt it to write either piece. What do you think of the result?

5. Errata
In the last issue, I made two uncorrected typos in the byline. The writer is Christine Hoskin. My apology to you. I have already apologized to Christine.

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