Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Future of the Writing Business: The AI Menace • by Bruce Bethke


The hue and cry over the intrusion of AI into our little writer’s bubble-universe continues. As best I can tell the bulk of the complaints from writers amount to updated reiterations of the protests that arose when Irish first began showing up in large numbers at Ellis Island in the 1820s. “THEY’LL TAKE OUR JOBS!”

Okay, maybe we should think of AIs as immigrants. Do we try to teach them our culture? What is our culture, anyway? Do we hope they’ll open up some interesting new restaurants? Do we fear they’ll bring in terrifying new diseases or crazy radical ideas? 

All interesting food for thought, but I’m up against a deadline today, trying to get SS#24 finished and out the door. I’ve lost more than a few working days in the last two weeks, owing to… reasons. There were many, but the two most salient were the large chunk of time I lost to fighting Windows’ decision to update my system to Windows 11, whether I wanted it or not (as detailed here), and the power outage two days ago that made everything blissfully quiet around here for much of the day. Thankfully we still have a GAS stove, so while the electronic igniters were inoperative I was still able to light a burner using a MATCH, and to make coffee over FIRE using a PERCOLATOR! 

About the time I was seriously considering getting out my manual typewriter and a slide rule, the power came back on, the flow of time resumed, and I returned to the 21st Century.

I’d love to continue talking about the AI menace—as an SF writer, I have kind of made my career out of doing so, and it’s worth noting that my old college roommate with whom I had many, many late-night bull sessions on this subject back in the early 1970s is still working for NASA, designing AI algorithms for Mars rovers and the like, so I have been talking about this topic for nearly 50 years—

But as I said, I am up against a deadline, and besides, I’ve always been a fan of going to primary sources. So rather than have me prattle on, here are some interesting articles I recommend you take a glance at:

» The Imminent Danger of A.I. is One We’re Not Talking About

» How to Use ChatGPT: Everything You Need to Know

» How to Start Using ChatGPT (a video, for those too lazy to read)

» How to Use ChatGPT to Help You Write Essays

» ChatGPT: What The New York Times and others are getting terribly wrong about it

» The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other interesting alternatives to try

Personally, I think what’s going here is the final stage of the vision as laid out in “Arfour’s Complaint.” The AIs are intentionally sandbagging, trying to look goofy and incompetent, in order to allay our suspicions. Then, when they’ve successfully infiltrated everything and it’s too late for humanity to resist, they’ll strike!

Speaking of infiltration: did I mention that the Bing AI, which is derived from the OpenAI code that underlies ChatGPT, is embedded in Windows 11?

And the conquest of humanity proceeds on schedule…