I was playing around with the new AI language tool, ChatGPT, recently. I wondered how it would do if I asked it to generate an author bio for a ghost story writer. That’s all the detail I gave it and at once it produced this, which I’ve tailored with my name and books only. You can see why UK universities are currently scrambling to work out how to assess students, when it produces reasonable essays on pretty much anything ranging from the causes of WW1 to Brexit.
And, whilst a bit wonky, it sounds relatively human. I asked it to write me a poem about wrens and it was reasonable – not brilliant, probably not even good, but not doggerel either. I checked it wasn’t plagiarised on Google and of course, it wasn’t.
So, how long before it’s writing a 60,000 long ghost story full of creepy twists and turns? Not long, I suspect. Especially with a good human (at least for now) editor. This thing is learning fast, helped by useful free fodder such as myself, helping it with the nuances of language. And that really is the key – I suspect it’s rapidly learning things that take novelists years, if not decades, to discover and refine.
My hope is that human creativity will always pip AI. We know the world, we experience pain and beauty unmediated by all except our senses. And we use that to innovate. I like to believe Nick Cave’s response when a fan sent him ChatGPT mimicry of his lyrics.
But I’m no technologist. It’s possible that in a few decades, whilst ChatGPT will never know who we are, it might well be able to replicate books that we’re unable to distinguish from those written by real people. The first article I read about ChatGPT was by a seasoned journalist who was seriously discomforted by its attempt to produce something similar to her writing.
Have you tried ChatGPT yet? What are your thoughts?
In the meantime, remember that horror helps build your resilience, always useful when we’re faced with a future straight out the Terminator – so why not grab my latest ghost story, Alice and the Devil, now?
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