Dimensions of Disaster
Are there reasons I’m pushing hard for writers and readers to sign the “Save the Writer” petition– whose purpose is to alert the literary world about the coming storm of botbooks?
Yes! I’m doing so because ailments which afflict literature and publishing didn’t just begin two months ago with AI-generated books. The devaluing of the writer has been ongoing for the past twenty years. Now the dimensions of disaster are accelerating.
All one need do to realize this is to look at how many tech reporters there are at every news outlet, magazine, and mainstream website. They’re ubiquitous– and they’re biased toward the wonders of technology. They have no doubt of the domination of AI– their only questions are how “ethical” it will be (if the term can seriously be used); how effective, and which of the monster corporations and hyper-wealthy plutocrats– Gates, Musk, Bezos, Page, Brin, Thiel– will have the best products and make the most profits. And there certainly will be a funnel of money and profits headed straight toward the top.
The change in this Internet Age has been gradual enough that few people have noticed what’s occurred.
What HAS occurred?
Where are the book reviewers and reporters on happenings in the publishing world? Book review sections in newspapers across the country have vanished– as newspapers themselves have been vanishing. Books are an ever-diminishing realm. The attitude of techies glorying in the arrival of Artificial Intelligence– the ultimate sci-fi dream becoming reality to satisfy the fantasy cartoon world within which they live– is dismissive. “Adapt or die” is their mantra, seen across social media. (Or at least on Twitter.) They consider books an obsolete and possibly unnecessary technology. Why would anyone read– they think– when a chatbot can give them all information?
In all seriousness, the position of books and writers within the greater culture is shrinking. The arrival of chatbots and botbooks is merely the latest assault.
A complete sea change, in attitude and art, is required. To find a way to turn the culture upside down, and thereby return literature to its previous position of cultural prominence.
If it can be imagined it can happen.
-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit