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Is ChatGPT a threat to writers?

It is common to hear about the technical revolution in AI technologies today, and conversations about AI’s role in our everyday lives have become more prevalent. However, while the bulk of the discussion surrounding the topic focuses on jobs that require mechanical calculations, the sphere that was considered to be separate from the AI machinations has been that of art. One of the significant branches of art has always been writing.


The topic of AI writing has resurfaced with the introduction of ChatGPT, an advanced artificial intelligence chatbot that has been notorious for its programming and the results it brings.


First of all, what are the benefits ChatGPT can bring to writers? It can be easily used as a helper for their work due to its programming. AI can be used to generate ideas with which the authors can work and refine them to make them into art or content. For example, one might put a topic they wish to explore and receive a piece of writing exploring this topic. While it’s likely to be imperfect and lacks the idea and themes that human authors put in their work, it can serve as a starting point for writers. The adaptability of the source will provide a lot of flexibility and offer new and likely more varied results every time.


Another way in which it can help writers is by editing and proofreading. Kotobee points out in their article the various ways in which ChatGPT can be used for editing. In a most basic sense, it can detect grammatical mistakes in sentences and paragraphs which are presented to it as it is tasked with editing them. This can shorten the process of editing and allow the writer to focus on the actual content of their work rather than spending too much time on grammar. However, it’s worth noting that ChatGPT tends only to see one way to edit the sentence, such as turning “girl is sad” into “girl is sad” without considering the alternative of “girls are sad,” which may be fitting for some scenarios. This means that ChatGPT has not yet reached human levels of editing and is unable to function without peer review fully, but it may help writers to remove potential pitfalls such as language barriers and therefore be a helpful tool.


A feature that will be of use for fiction writers specifically is its ability to change the tone and dialect of the given phrase. The writer can choose to alter the style from conversational to formal and vice versa, with it being able to adapt the provided information for different scenes, such as an apt way to use it in a dialogue between two friends in a novel. Expanding upon that, it can change the phrase to imitate stereotypical language and tone of royalty, pirates, gangsters, and countless other groups that one might want to portray. This easily allows one to make one’s setting more distinct by employing this tool to differentiate between how characters speak. It can also develop and detect the author’s personal style, helping them to keep it consistent in the future, presenting a tool which useful for all types of writing, whether it is fiction or not. Overall, the set of tools for ChatGPT is constantly expanding and thus becomes all the more relevant as a tool for writing.


However, its adaptability allows for some questions to be raised on whether it can be a threat to writers. With its programming, it can imitate different styles and even writers, writing work that would take hours, if not days, for a human writer to complete in mere seconds. For example, it has been known to be able to write on the ethics of Daoism and its morality. Ben Ulansey argues that ChatGPT is able to displace countless writers already, and it is easy to see why. This raises the question of whether using an AI to write is simpler instead of giving such jobs to actual writers.


Another example of ChatGPT being used to replace actual writing is its usage in college and the way it is used to write entire essays. In his article, Alex Hern confronts the idea of its potential pitfalls in the education system and how it can be used to bypass the established procedure. The fact that essays written by ChatGPT could be marked as passable, if not outright outstanding, shows the extent to which AI development may hinder the work of writers as long as it develops. This can also prove as a source of inequality among students, as some may not have access to ChatGPT as often as others and, therefore, are unable to use the privileges it provides. Allowing students to use AI to write their work will also end up reflecting poorly upon their skill set and make them unprepared for life and work, which will see a decline in their abilities.


But can it replace human writing with all the progress it has been making? In its current state, there are limitations to ChatGPT and other sources of AI which cannot be replicated, and that is the presence of an original idea. While AI can effectively replicate the thoughts and styles of others, it is yet to develop its own unique one. Authors are putting ideas and passion into their work, creating unique perspectives that, while influenced by others around them, can always bring some originality into the mix. So far, AI cannot effectively replicate this and become as unique and self-defined as a human author can be.


So, while ChatGPT has yet to reach human levels by a number of criteria, it is undoubtedly on its way with the development it goes through. When it becomes more original in its thought and ideas, it will become a match for human writers. This, of course, still leaves the question of ethics and whether replacing human writing with AI is a worthwhile idea. It may be damming to people for whom writing is a job, such as those from the Writer’s Guild who went on strike to oppose ChatGPT’s replacement. It’s notable that this is a symptom of a more significant issue, with countless jobs being potentially displaced by AI working with more efficiency than humans. However, there is still time before that point is reached and allows humanity to judge the merits of AI, including ChatGPT, on their own.

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