An AI Odyssey, Pt. 1

This is either the beginning or the end of something big. 

AI-generated content (whether it be text or images) isn’t new. I won’t pretend to be an expert, but I did write an article last year about AI-generated poetry at a time when not many artists or writers were talking about AI-generated anything. Rather than being a recent phenomenon, I discovered that people have been utilizing algorithms to generate poetry for decades. And in my first book, Hugo Ball and the Fate of the Universe, I dedicated a few chapters to algorithmic poetry. 

I’m not a tech-savvy individual by any means. I’m also really bad at predicting trends. I’m one of the least prescient people I know, and yet I somehow had the foresight to realize that, at some point in the near future, a sudden leap forward in AI technology would drastically challenge our notions of what it means to be an artist and what “creativity” even means when machines are capable of creating furry porn at the press of a button. (And good furry porn at that!) It feels great to be vindicated for once. 

As someone who isn’t a visual artist, I’m not losing much sleep over AIs (supposedly) putting artists out of business. But as a writer, well…I’m still not losing any sleep. Because AI text generation is lagging far behind image generation. For now, at least.

But even if some mad scientist were to create an algorithm capable of producing a novel on par with The Brothers Karamazov next Thursday, I still wouldn’t worry.

The camera didn’t destroy painting. 3D printing didn’t destroy sculpture. Written manuscripts didn’t destroy rhetoric. Microsoft Word didn’t destroy the novel. Tools never outright destroy disciplines, they disrupt and alter disciplines. And that’s what we should look at AI as—a tool we can utilize in order to do things that would have been either too time-consuming or downright impossible in the past. New technologies (or, in this case, pre-existing technologies which have experienced a series of quantum leaps in the past few months) shouldn’t be cause for pessimism and dystopian thinking amongst creative types. You’d hope that artists would be the last people to become Luddites, but sure enough, that’s what I see happening online. And that’s sad as hell. 

AI is a gift. Let’s use it. 

Next time I, I’ll share some of my experiments in AI writing. I’m crossing my fingers that this’ll be fun.