More Thoughts About A.I.


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

The Coming A.I. Literary World




Use of the technology– ChatGPT and other such devices– like most new technologies, may be inevitable. It presents a shortcut for those who want to become writers, without having to learn the craft. Humans being what they are– a corrupt, opportunistic species– many wannabes will take the shortcut.

Could those who refuse the technology end up like old-school folk singers horrified when Bob Dylan “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival by playing an electric guitar? Were many of the changes in rock music in the 1960s and 70s due simply to improved technology– from larger amplifiers to enhanced studio recording tricks to computer synthesizers?

Will the situation be similar for literature?

One of the strongest arguments for A.I. might become the perceived need not to be left behind.


So far, opponents to ChatGPT writings are focused on copyright and plagiarism issues– potentially enormous as the robotic brains steal phrases and sentences from any and every writer contained in their data base. But also potentially unpoliceable.

Other arguments against the use of A.I.:

A.) The literary world is already swamped with too many writers and too much writing, for much of anything to stand out from the mass. With A.I. bots creating poems, stories, and novels, that enormous mass of writing will multiply many times over. Prolific genre authors who previously produced three books a year, will now produce ten. Or thirty.

Given the law of supply and demand, the value of the individual writer– already low– will drop near zero.

B.) The technology will put thousands of employed writers, particularly essayists and journalists, out of work. On-staff people and freelancers both. Articles for a magazine or news site which used to be written by, say, twenty different writers, will now be handled by two. Expand this situation to include copyeditors, illustrators, and graphic designers. That’s a lot of pink slips.

I’ve joked that eventually Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos will run their entire plutocratic business empires with a few apps on their phone. This is becoming increasingly true.

C.) There’s the question of what increased reliance on devices to do thinking and creativity for us will do to our minds. Will our brains further atrophy as we advance away from a human-skills based society? This is a huge and hugely-important subject I’ll tackle in another post.


Will we reach a point of Too Much Technology in the arts, when the unique virtuoso creator rises again in appreciation and importance?

I think of the 2008 documentary, “It Might Get Loud,” about rock music guitarists Jimmy Page, Jack White, and The Edge from the band U2. The one of the three who relies the most on computer tricks and shortcuts for effects– The Edge– comes away from the documentary, at least for this viewer, by far the worst. Respect for him as an artist diminished, while appreciation of the other two true guitar virtuosos who rely on their hands and their own minds is enhanced.

Then again, in today’s world of pop music recording, the electric guitar itself has become a dinosaur.


-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit News