Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Artificial Intelligence


My color-coordinated child
Have you heard about ChatGPT or the other artificial intelligence programs out there? They've been in the news because there's a lot of fear that AI will replace real creatives and there will be no market for writers or artists anymore, it will just be people pushing buttons and spewing out whole books or pieces of art, and trying to pass them off to an unsuspecting public. 

I'm sure there will be people who will try to do that, but I think finding an audience won't be as easy as learning how to work with the AI. It may be different for art, because visuals are used differently, but I honestly wouldn't understand why a writer would use it to write books. Writing is the part that I enjoy. If someone comes up with a gadget to do the parts I don't enjoy or am not good at, I'll jump on that train.

Which is what I've cautiously done with ChatGPT. I was suspicious at first, but several writers I know, and at least one trustworthy podcast, are very pro 'AI in its place.' 

That means different things for different people. I tried to use it to rewrite my book blurbs, and it worked fairly well, because that's a structure it understands. Certain facts have to be tweaked, because it doesn't understand my book, but it gives me something to work with. 

Where I've really found it interesting is as an unpaid research assistant. I'm working on the third book in my Ava & Claire series, and part of it is set in Paris in 1935. I love Paris. I know Paris relatively well, but I'm not a time traveler, and there are certain things I was not able to find easily with online research.

So I asked ChatGPT. And it gave me what I needed, in seconds. And because several people have told me that they've been given wrong answers to research questions, I've taken to asking it to prove its work - to give me a link or a book title where I could find the information to back up their answer. Obviously if those links or books are out there, I could have found the information on my own, but it would have taken a lot longer - and that's time I don't want to spend for something that is only going to be one sentence of a book. It's much faster to follow the link given to me, confirm that the information is correct, write the sentence, and go on to the next thing. 

That's a research rabbit hole I could have fallen into for hours. So I see a purpose for artificial intelligence in writing, just not to do the actual writing. When writing stops being fun, I'll stop doing it.

And if you're curious, I asked ChatGPT to write a cautiously optimistic blog post about its use as a writer's assistant. My prompt, and its response, are below. It's not bad; it just doesn't sound like me.

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