The A.I. Challenge

CHATGPT AND THE FUTURE OF LITERATURE PART ONE


The sudden emergence of the ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence device has raised a host of questions about what effect it will have on writers, and on literature itself.

To attempt to plot out where we’re headed, one has to look at both extremes of reaction– not just to A.I., but to the contemporary world itself.

TRUE BELIEVERS

Over the past thirty years new technology has become a religion. Its entrepreneurs and advocates see it as a solution to all problems– and are blind to its many downsides. On social media, apologists for A.I. and for everything digital are everywhere. For them, the Internet IS the world.

In the arena of art and letters, the thrust of their arguments is that A.I. allows greater, or at least easier, creativity. Much time is spent defending against accusations of plagiarism and copyright violations– which are not the biggest issues with A.I. technology.

THE REFUSAL-TO-CHANGE CROWD

At the other extreme are writers and literary critics who can’t conceive of any change to the refined literary art they know and love. Their essays overflow bemoaning the dwindling status of “serious reading,” as they look back fondly at past “avant-garde” innovators such as Virginia Woolf, now safely dead.

How will they react to an invasion of ChatGPT novels into an already-saturated publishing market?

One can expect they not only won’t attempt to use the device (well, some of them will if the wind blows strongly in that direction), they also won’t try to change the art to put it more in step with a changing world– as a way to ward off the A.I. threat. Instead they’ll retreat further into their bunker and their canons of the past. In this instance, classical music is the model for what will happen.

THE FUTURE

What are the real pros and cons of A.I. technology applied to writing and literature? What’s the best strategy to follow: to embrace the technology, or find ways to defend against it? I’ll address these questions in a future post.

In the meantime, what do you think?

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-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit News

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