If present trends continue.... But the thing about present trends is that they never do continue. We should all be riding around in self-driving cars by now, but we're not. The ability to solve half a problem, or even 90% of a problem, is not evidence of the ability to solve the last 10%. And that seems to be the case with AI generally: it can solve 50% or even 90% of a problem -- and that is often very valuable -- but it always seems to stumble when it comes to the last 10%.

AI art and writing apps are pastiche generators. That's not a slight. It is a technical description of their function. University essays, and most of the fiction publishing industry, are pastiche factories, so there is doubtless a significant degree of application. But it is still only pastiche, and even the pastiche is not perfect yet. That last 10% of even the pastiche problem may be illusive.

It is tempting to look at a period of rapid advance in any industry and see that rapidity extending into the future at the same pace. It never happens that way. Everything plateaus out below the level of the most enthusiastic and most horrified projections.

What I suspect will come next, though, is AI used to detect the products of AI. The demand from the university system is obvious. The universities use pastiche exercises to train students in the mechanics required for developing and expressing original thought. AI detectors are the next logical step on from plagiarism detectors (which, I suppose, are probably AI based these days).

And I suspect that it will be much the same in the fiction market and the art market. People will want the work of people, not machines. AI probably suits the pornography market well, where a human connection is not wanted, but for most art and fiction, I suspect that the human connection is essential, particularly since direct contact between readers and writers is the main form of marketing in fiction these days. This is not to suggest that you will always be able to tell if you favorite romance writer is a person or a bot, but rather that you will want to, and will demand proof of authenticity, as we do in so many other fields in which fakes are hard to tell from the real thing.

And as much as we worry about the extinction of work, we are once again suffering from a grueling labor shortage.

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This is interesting. Couple of points from me.

1. Possibly it will all go wrong for AIs. They are trained on a corpus. If the corpus gets taken over by text written by AIs (much of which is wrong - we have seen many examples online) then AIs might end up in a garbage in, garbage out situation. I don't know: perhaps the best AIs will be trained on a special corpus of pre-2000 human-written material. But that would have its own ossification problems.

2. Even if that's not right, as Mark Baker points out, we already have a lot of pastiche generation and it would be no great loss if that gets automated. One day we may come to think with great sadness of all the wasted years that some of greatest minds spent reading and marking undergraduate essays. So far as I know, no one other than the writer or close family of an undergraduate has ever wanted to read one of those essays - they are a training tool and other tools may arise.

3. We still have artisans and value their work. I suppose that's what will happen with writing. Novel-writing has only ever been a cottage industry, with newspapers being the mass-produced product. If all of news writing becomes automated, would it be any great loss to the world? Any greater loss than teaspoons being made by machines? We would still have artisan and hobbyist word crafters.

Anyway thank you for writing this.

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