It was a dark and stormy night, the kind of night that makes you want to stay inside and lock all the doors. But Sarah had promised her friend she would house-sit for her while she was away on vacation. The house was old and creaky, and the sound of the rain tapping against the windows made Sarah uneasy.
As she settled into the couch to watch a movie, she heard a strange noise coming from upstairs. It sounded like footsteps, slow and deliberate. She tried to convince herself it was just the old house settling, but the sound persisted.
Sarah cautiously made her way upstairs, her heart pounding in her chest. As she approached the guest bedroom, the sound grew louder. She pushed the door open and found the room empty. But then she noticed something odd – the closet door was slightly ajar.
As she reached for the door handle, a cold breeze swept through the room, sending a chill down her spine. She hesitated for a moment, but curiosity got the better of her. She slowly pushed the door open, and what she saw made her scream in terror.
Standing in front of her was a figure, dark and shadowy, with eyes that glowed like fiery embers. Its mouth twisted into a sinister grin as it reached out to grab her. Sarah turned and ran down the stairs, the figure hot on her heels.
Just as she reached the front door, Sarah felt something grab her ankle, causing her to trip and fall. As she looked up, she realized that the figure had been nothing more than a coat hanging in the closet. But the relief was short-lived as she heard a sinister laugh echoing through the empty house.
Sarah quickly got up and ran out of the house, never looking back. She never returned to that house again, and she never spoke of that night to anyone. But she knew that she had encountered something truly terrifying, something that she could never explain.
I didn’t write that story, a chatbot did.
Yeah, we’re talking about chatbots today. And I’ll be really surprised if I’m the first person you’ve heard talk about this topic. It’s been hotly contested in social media. Artists of all sorts are in arms about AI-generated art. Is AI content taking a chunk of the already slim writing market? Are we going to lose our jobs to AI writers? Was this blog post written by an AI?
(No, except for the above story, it was not. This is all me, baby.)
The bad news
Let’s start with how I got the above story that, again, is not mine. I pulled up a free AI word generator and asked it to write me a scary story. That’s exactly what I typed in. Write me a scary story. Whether or not that story was scary is arguable. But the story is competent.
So what if I had asked the AI to write me a product description? Or a blog post on a specific topic? The chances are good that I’d have gotten a similarly bland but competent response.
Back in the day, I wrote product descriptions for independent businesses. Lots of writers do that to make money. Some other ways writers make money include but are not limited to ghostwriting blog posts, writing content for business sites, and copywriting. When done well by a creative and talented writer, any of this content can be awesome. But not everyone needs that writing to be awesome. Frankly, that writing just needs to be competent. Businesses need a ton of writing done, and nothing is saying it needs to be lyrical and lovely. It just needs to give accurate and concise information. So yes, I think a lot of companies that used to pay writers for writing are probably already using AI-generated work instead. Being a full-time writer was already hard. Hard enough that I, after nine years of work have not gotten there. Lots of writers rely on copywriter gigs to make consistent income. To me, this feels like low-cost competition copywriters didn’t fucking need.
Then, of course, there’s the thorny little question about where this content came from. Again, referring to the story above, I do not know how the AI did that. In a matter of seconds, by the way. For all I know, this writing is the work of some unnamed and uncredited author. An author that I just unknowingly stole from. And insulted by calling their work dull. If that’s you, I am sorry. But don’t worry, creativity’s like any other muscle and it can be strengthened.
The point is that stealing from creatives is a terrible thing. And it’s the last thing we want happening on a grand scale.
This is a major concern for visual artists, and I get it. No one should have the right to take your work, even a part of it, without giving you the credit you deserve.
The good news
You probably didn’t need me to tell you that the story above wasn’t mine. It’s clearly not my writing style. If you’ve been around Paper Beats World for a while, you know my writing style.
If you’re a fan of anyone’s writing, you can probably recognize their writing style. I could read a paragraph by either Laini Taylor or Justina Ireland and probably tell you who wrote it.
This is what is really missing from that writing example above, any sense of personal style.
This is why I don’t think creative writers have anything to fear from AI writing. At least, not yet. AI can only replicate what already exists. It cannot develop its own style, or create new things.
Yes, I do think the market’s going to get flooded by shitty, AI-written fiction. No, I don’t think it’s going to cause much of an issue. There is still no replacement for human creativity and personality.
What can we do about it?
Sadly, I don’t know that there’s much we as individual creators can do. We can’t make businesses hire actual writers instead of using AI-generated content. And we certainly can’t stop people from using this AI technology. Nor should we, because that’s a slippery slope. Look, I might not think the AI can write a good horror story, but it still has a ton of vital uses.
But we can reject AI-created work. As indie writers, we can keep hiring actual graphic artists to create our covers. We can shun AI art and writing online, and call it out when we see it. We can make sure that we’re being honest if we do use AI in any of our writing.
Which, to be clear, I have no intention of doing. But if you do, that’s fine. Just remember that real human creativity is always going to shine through.
Another way to battle AI content is to support flesh and blood creators. If you’d like to support Paper Beats World, you can do so on Ko-fi.
I played around with giving Bing a couple of ideas for a story to see what it would write. First, I asked it to write a gothic tale. It wrote a haunted house-type tale about a woman trapped in a house and a ghost freed her. All rather boring. Next, I asked for a story which contained three items, a key, a window and a golden cup.
It wrote the same type of story but added a key, window and golden cup into the story. 😂🤣😂🤣
There wasn’t any depth to the story. I told it I was better of writing my only stories. I don’t think we writers need to be concerned at the moment.
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Love it! Yeah, I don’t think AI is quite ready to join the fiction writing game.
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It certainly made me less worried about AI. Though I’m sure there will be those who think it’s a great way of making money from writing by submitting stories written by AI to writing competitions. If you have been writing for years like most seasoned writers, you know the secret to outstanding writing is in the editing.
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Just seems lazy… are we really becoming such a dependent society where we even allow technology to handle our creativity?
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