MORE ABOUT CHAT GPT
Tesla’s proposed A.I. robot.
THE BIG NEWS in the publishing world revolves around science fiction magazine Clarksworld closing submissions after being swamped with ChatGPT-created short stories– an increase over three months from under 25 to over 500.
In other news, a spate of A.I.-generated books have already begun to hit the market, per this article from Reuters.
OR: disruption of the publishing industry has taken place much more swiftly than anticipated. We at New Pop Lit have attempted to be open-minded regarding the new technology. It’s usually futile to fight progress, or what’s marketed as progress. The new technology has undeniable benefits for the individual writer, in speed and ease of writing. We also believed that using it more astutely than others might be a way to take on publishing’s Big Five, who are slow at adapting to anything. (Much of their way of operating is lodged in the early 20th Century, if not the 19th.)
However, techies themselves have decided to become major players in writing and publishing. Here’s a Tweet from the founder and CEO of OpenAI, the company which has inflicted ChatGPT and Dall-E upon the world: the two A.I. devices most directly aimed at the literary world.
Keep in mind that Sam Altman, like his technology colleagues and peers, is utterly ruthless. Who were the other original investors in OpenAI when it began business in 2015? Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Elon Musk, Ilya Sutskever, Peter Thiel: billionaires all, almost a Who’s Who of technology venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. (Corporate investors included Amazon Web Services.)
Elon Musk is the most well-known of the bunch (Peter Thiel perhaps the most infamous). These are people who have their interests and money invested in everything.
Over the past few years I’ve been researching Musk, reading every book I could find on him. Why? Because he’s disrupting the automotive industry. Being from Detroit, I’ve worked in an auto plant, and have friends and relatives in the automobile business. As do most people in this area.
Elon Musk exemplifies the mindset. Move into a vulnerable field and with new technology and aggressive tactics– including hyperbolic salesmanship– take it over. These are not preppy Ivy Leaguers taking casual three-martini Manhattan lunches and dawdling over the perks of upper-level publishing. An entirely different animal is entering the literary arena.
Technology for these people isn’t a job or a game– it’s a religion. They want it all: spaceships to Mars, A.I. robots, eternal life: everything. They won’t stop until the science fiction world of their fantasies is reality.
In the meantime, what’s the impact on the cozy world of letters? Publications large and small, online and print, will be overwhelmed with submissions, as anyone who ever had a vague thought of becoming a writer can now create a manuscript in minutes with a few prompts. It may become difficult to tell real from fake. A culture which already has too many writers will see their number multiplied– which will make it that much greater a task for any of us to stand out from the mass. Connections to the right people– already a determining factor– will become even more important. Who you know and who you suck up to. Got a book you want to market? Good luck!
There may be solutions or ways to overcome the obstacles, but the odds against have increased.
-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit News
Its over my head. I dont see how a computer can do anything but replicate what is already out there, and it can only do that if everything that is out there has been fed into it. I do see a future for lawyers who specialize in plagiarism.
I wrote a story about a B-17 crew in WW II. They were required to fly 25 missions and at the time had no fighter support. The German fighters and flak feasted on them. Their chances of survival were about one in three. They decide to skip out for Switzerland the next time they took some serious damage and sit the war out there. They, as a crew, agree to do so. Their plan works, but, as theyre safely sitting the war out in Bern, they begin to suffer buyer remorse. They know they done wrong. Out of nowhere they are given an opportunity by an OSS agent, the forerunner of our CIA, to use their bomber to smuggle a defecting German scientist and his family back to England. He happens to be one of the top nuclear scientists in Deutschland. A huge win for us is we can get him and his family safely to Los Alamos. If they go for the deal, they will still have to fly the balance of their missions. Oh, and they dont really know anything about the atomic bomb. They are only told it could have significant impact on the war effort.
I was a pilot (40 years ago), and I had some multi-engine hours. I had been stationed in Germany where I sent two years as a heroic clerk-typist. I had also watched and enjoyed, Command Decision, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Twelve Oclock High, and Memphis Belle. I knew I was going to have to do some serious research if I were to make the story authentic and believable. I estimated two to three months at least. Nope. I simply got on the computer, and I was astounded at the abundance of information on B-17 crews and the risks they took over Germany. I was shocked to learn that the Eighth Air Force alone had more KIA (32,000) than the entire U.S. Marine Corps (30,000) in WW II. In two weeks I had all of the tech stuff I needed to write the story. I described the B-17, its armament, bomb-load, 10 crew positions, and flight capabilities. Thank you, computer.
It was then up to me to write the story. Ten Crewman, ten different personalities, the long, the short, and the tall, some sympathetic, some not. They each had to be a little different, distinguishable from one another, some fed up with the war, some not, some resigned to death, some not, some witty and funny, some dull and boring, some cynical and some naïve. Could I have asked AI to write the story for me? Could I have just told it what I wrote above and a few days later out pops my finished story? I seriously doubt it.
Id love to see an AI company write Poes The Raven and make it rhyme and do it in Iambic Pentameter. Or even a Shakespeare sonnet. Maybe a sonnet, but a full-fledged play? No, and as you stated the other day, AI can give us a real boost in writing, but only a human writer can create.
2001: A Space Odyssey. Hal takes over. Ingenious plot, but a writer thought it up.
Remember that great line from that great movie, All About Eve. Does the piano take credit for the concerto? I believe it was Aristotle who wrote, Of all the wonders of the world, man is the greatest.
Maybe we should be asking the better question. How do we get people to start reading again? I dont feel threatened by AI writing stories. I do feel threatened by people not reading stories, whether AI writes them or not.
My two cents, anyway. Keep up the good fight.
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Hi Nick.Thanks for the input. No doubt the biggest problem is, as you say, getting more people reading. Expanding the market. For that to happen might take something sensational. . . .
I’m sure the AI stuff that is out there is pretty bad. No doubt it’ll never be another Shakespeare. But wannabe writers using it could clog up up the literary pipelines, both in amount of submissions flooding publishers, and the increased amount of books on Amazon competing for attention. As the Ted Gioia essay I referenced describes, all arts markets are saturated as it is.
For ourselves, we can always get a college student intern to screen submissions for us. But the AI disruption also offers an opportunity to make noise. For a tiny outfit like NPL– as for any unconnected writer (having the right connections is still crucial in this game)– making noise, getting noticed, somehow, is everything.
In other words, we will be using said opportunity. . . .
p.s. People are already testing the device re sonnets–
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