AI has come a long way in recent years, but will it replace us entirely in the realm of storytelling?
You've likely seen a post or 50 about AI writing tools. They're everywhere. There's even art tools, like MidJourney, generating thousands of images every day–but is an AI writing stories a sign of the end of our creativity and human storytelling? What does it mean?
Images created with MidJourney software
Artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant strides in recent years, and one of the areas where it has been applied is in the realm of writing stories. AI-powered writing systems are now capable of generating stories that resemble those written by humans. In this article, we'll explore the capabilities of AI-powered writing systems, the advantages and limitations of using AI to write stories, and the future of AI in storytelling.
AI Writing Stories Isn't All Bad, Is It?
So, what does it mean that AI is writing stories now? Before we get into that, let's talk about some of the advantages of using AI for writing.
One of the main advantages of using AI to write stories is that it can save time and effort. For example, an AI-powered writing system can be used to generate news articles, product descriptions, and even complete novels. This can be especially useful for tasks that require a high volume of written content, such as content creation for websites or social media.
Additionally, AI-powered writing systems can also help to reduce the possibility of bias, as AI models are not influenced by personal experiences or emotions, they are less likely to introduce biases into the written content.
Let's Talk About The Soul of Writing
For all of its power, AI writing can often feel utterly soulless. This is because it lacks the human elements that give writing emotional depth and richness. AI systems are unable to understand the context and emotions behind a story; they can only generate text that is grammatically correct and follows the rules of the language, but often lacks the nuances and subtleties of human writing.
One of the main factors that contribute to the feeling that AI writing is soulless is the lack of creativity. AI systems are not able to come up with new ideas or come up with unique and original ways of expressing those ideas. This can result in writing that feels formulaic and uninspired. Furthermore, AI systems lack the personal experience, emotions and empathy that human writers bring to their stories. An AI generated story may not resonate with readers in the same way as a human-written one would, as it won't be able to tap into emotions and feeling that the reader could relate to.
Additionally, the writing generated by AI systems is often lacking in personality and style. Human writing is often influenced by the individual's personality, life experiences and worldview, which gives it a unique tone, style, and voice. AI-generated writing, on the other hand, can feel generic and lacking in character. For example, if I'm telling a story, I'll probably include anecdotes, personal feelings, and examples of solutions for problems. An AI isn't able to understand those emotions, and thus can't include them in its writing effectively.
AI doesn't quite have the capability of exploring the complexity of human emotions, decisions or motivations. So, an AI writing stories can't understand or interpret the meaning behind a situation. They can not explore the inner thoughts of a character and make predictions or decisions based on them, which leads to less realistic and less convincing characters.
Will AI ever understand our emotions?
This is a question that I find fascinating, because it stands to reason that since a human is programming the AI, eventually the AI might take on some of our thoughts, processing, or even emotions. There have been thousands of sci-fi stories about rogue AI ending humanity, but really, what if AI showed us something about ourselves? What if it helped us see the worst and best parts of humanity? What if AI interpreted our emotions and helped us grow as a species?
The Ethics Argument: AI Writing Stores and Creating Art
Of course, no advancement would be complete without an argument surrounding the ethics of the technology. Remember when the internet came about? Traditional artists were convinced digital art would be the end of the painter and sketch artist. I imagine writers got a little nervous, too, when word processors came about. But all of those practices still exist, despite the advancement.
The main ethical argument, at least that I've heard repeated again and again, is that AI is trained on other people's work. I've heard both sides of the argument, which usually goes something like this:
AI is unethical because it's trained on other artists' or writers' works without their consent, which is essentially stealing from them.
AI is ethical because humans do the same thing as AI when they take inspiration from a source and turn that inspiration into something unique.
While I don't claim to be an expert in ethics, I can kind of understand both arguments here. An artist may not want some computer programming combing their portfolio to learn how to draw in their style, but does that mean they don't want any people using their art, either? And what of writing? When you put those things into the world, what's a reasonable expectation for how much influence someone or something takes from them? I don't honestly know. But I find the argument fascinating. Maybe AI can give you more motivation as a writer. Though I wouldn't bet on it creating the next Lord of the Rings.
There is also the concern that AI generated content might be used to spread misinformation or propaganda. As technology advances and the capabilities of AI-generated content become more advanced, it is important to consider the ethical implications and have a discourse about what might be appropriate uses of the technology. If we've learned anything, it's that misinformation can be downright deadly.
If you do want to give AI writing a try, this video has some good suggestions:
Not the End. Perhaps a Beginning?
I don't believe AI writing or artwork will ever replace humans, or perfectly replicate the human experience, even with AI writing stories. What it might do, however, is provide us with a new lens through which to view that human experience. Maybe what we need is a different perspective, no? After all, we've lived in what's essentially an echo chamber of human experience since the beginning. Maybe a fresh set of eyes can help us see that we're far from perfect.
What does it mean that AI is writing stories? It means we're doing what we always do: creating technology to do our humaning for us.
End Note: While I do use AI art, as I did in this post, I only ever use it for my own ideas. I still support human artists and will use them for cover art, etc. for my stories.