To AI or not to AI

To AI or not to AI

First a word from our sponsor

We’ll get to the key aspect in a minute, but first a word from our sponsor … Plagiarism.

Have I been asleep all this time? Or am I still sleeping? I feel like I’ve missed something along the way.

When did it become okay to re-write someone else’s work—simply exchanging the sex of the protagonist, for example—under the pretense of expired copyright?

I get creative experimentation; I really do. But merely exchanging ‘he said’ to ‘she said’ and keeping the rest of the story verbatim seems a lot like plagiarism … regardless of copyright.

Ethical plagiarism? Posthumous co-authoring? Like I said, I’m missing something.

I admit I am strongly biased against plagiarism of any sort. But then here we are … in the world of AI*. Isn’t everything about AI output technically plagiarized?

I don’t know. That’s why I’m pondering.

*Funny thing: My undergraduate study focused on farm animal breeding (check out my ‘About’ for a wee bit more explanation) and in that world, “AI” means Artificial Insemination (Go ahead; have fun with that … but be nice.)

Let’s look at AI—eyes and mind wide open

Image by Rochak Shukla on Freepik

Here, “AI”, of course, refers to Artificial Intelligence. Personally, I’m a huge fan of intelligence of any kind, at any level. More important, however, is that AI is here. For. Ever. Not going away. So, let’s use it … wisely.

AI ain’t new

Artificial intelligence has been around for a long time, arguably since the 1950s. We’ve seen it in writing tools since about 1983 or 4 when Commodore introduced “Word Wizard” for use with the Vic 20, Commodore-64 (my first personal computer) and PET/CBM computers. You don’t remember, do you?

Well, that makes my point—AI tools for writers have been around a long time and are nothing new. SpellCheck, Grammarly, Autocrit, ProWritingAid? Do these sound any more familiar? (I hope so.)

What AI writers use

An internet query this very day, aided by an AI, identified the following tools for writers that feature an AI to help writers craft their stories (alphabetized and just to name a ‘few’):

  • AI writer
  • Anyword
  • Article Forge
  • AutoCrit
  • ChatGPT
  • Copy.ai
  • Closerscopy
  • ContentShake AI
  • CopyScape
  • Dramatica
  • Evernote
  • Fictionary
  • Frase, Frase IO
  • Grammarly
  • GrowthBar
  • Hemingway Editor
  • Ink
  • Jasper
  • MasterWriter
  • Plottr
  • ProWritingAid
  • QuillBot
  • Rytr
  • Scalenut
  • Scrivener
  • Sudowrite
  • Surfer
  • Writer
  • Writesonic
  • Wordtune

    This list is not all-inclusive and will undoubtedly continue to expand. Nor is the intent of this article to discuss the features or pros and cons of these various tools. Instead, I think it prudent to examine the pros and cons of using AI itself to help us write.

    AI: How it might help writers

    AI can help writers with productivity, efficiency, accuracy, and quality. Consider:

    • Time—with grammar, spelling, and structure checks, automation saves time.
    • Feedback—often elusive to the solitary writer, and often more unbiased than your friend or family.
    • Organization tools—by beat, by scene, by draft, by ideas, by character, by subplots, etc. Change order, add, delete, combine—so many options to organize.
    • Outlining—Some degree of outlining happens when you’re planning a story, whether plotter or pantser, consciously or subconsciously.
    • Detect plagiarism—sometimes plagiarism is unintended, but happens, right?
    • Fact-checking—one source is not enough.
    • Proofreading and editing—especially with a first draft.

    One of the coolest uses of AI, I think, is to let it help generate, expand, and twist ideas. How better to play ‘What if?’ or to brainstorm?

    We all hit snags or get stuck, so, ‘phone a friend’. AI can be a great friend, available 24/7 via the internet (connection device required).

    But like all things, there are some less-than-up sides to using AI in our writing. Stories are about emotion and complex human thought and behavior. AIs, obviously, are limited in this domain. You cannot, and dare I say, should not rely on AI to make your characters human. We, as writers, must do that, and all stories, in one sense or another, are about humans. (We can talk about that later.)

    AI: How it might hurt writers

    AI can hinder us, as writers, in these ways:

    • Originality—Human story requires more depth and nuance than an AI may generate. Therefore, this content may appear less original and more formulaic or disconnected.
    • Ethics—AI-generated ideas or content are not immune to plagiarism, misinformation, misuse, and manipulation. We, as writers using this tool, handle its ethical use. Remember, even though a copyright expires, the work remains the original author’s creation. Respect it.
    • Dependency—Over-reliance on AI can cause a writer to lose their own creativity. That would not be a good thing.
    • Quality control—AI isn’t always right. It may suggest you have written something wrong, but you, in your heart of hearts, know what you want to say and that you indeed wrote it the way you intended. Again, sometimes AI just doesn’t get it right. You’re the writer; your intelligence is real, not artificial. Just sayin’ [smile].

    Let me wind up here with what I consider the take-home message. And I’ll let my friend, ChatGPT, tell you in their very own words how to be ethically responsible when using AI to write:

    1. Use AI as a Tool, Not a Replacement: Writers should view AI as a supplementary tool to enhance their writing process, rather than a substitute for human creativity and expertise. It’s essential to maintain a balance between AI assistance and human input.
    1. Verify and Fact-Check: Writers must verify the accuracy of information generated by AI and fact-check sources to ensure the credibility and reliability of their content. This helps prevent the spread of misinformation and ensures the integrity of the writing.
    1. Attribute Appropriately: If AI-generated content includes contributions from other sources or data, writers should properly attribute and cite those sources to avoid plagiarism and respect intellectual property rights.
    1. Review and Edit Thoroughly: Even though AI can assist with writing tasks, writers should thoroughly review and edit AI-generated content to refine its quality, coherence, and relevance. Human oversight is crucial for polishing and improving the final output.
    1. Stay Informed and Adapt: Writers should stay informed about advancements in AI technology and best practices for its ethical and responsible use. They should be willing to adapt their writing process and strategies to leverage AI effectively while upholding ethical standards.
    ChatGPT-3.5. (2024). “Pros and Cons of Using AI to Write.”

    I agree. How about you? Do you use AI to write fiction, poetry, or other? How? What do you consider the drawbacks? The benefits? What AI writing tools do you use or prefer? Please share your thoughts and comments below. I am fascinated with most things, including your thoughts.

    a steel bucket filled with lavender cuttings

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