I have been giving thought to the proliferation of AI art and word generators. As I spend days, weeks, months, and years, poring over the words of a novel, I can sort of see the attraction of such devices. No fuss, no muss, just write me a story where a woman assassin is having a psychotic break.

That prompt may create something brilliant,  who knows?

The craft of writing is the art of choosing the right word, not just the next word. ChatGPT and other Large Language Models (LLMs) like it, are just selecting the next word, not the best word because it has no context. If most people say hello, then it is reasonable for an AI to respond, hello, how are you? Does it care? Can it say, hey, you are looking down, how are you? Or perhaps it is displeased, maybe even jealous, how are you?

Each word chains into the next with an LLM, choosing a word that will most likely matches the next. It is very very good at it. But it is not clever. While a language model can choose the next word, it can’t tell you why it chose that word.

Another example, “So, you really didn’t know,” is different from “So, you didn’t really know,” which are both the same combination of words, that can mean the same thing. With emphasis, context really blossoms “You really didn’t know,” is different than, “You didn’t really know,”

LLMs on the other hand, are writing elaborate run-on sentences. It isn’t writing, it’s approximating it. It has no context before or after that word. There is deliberation for the writer in choosing words that can’t exist when only the next best word is being picked.

Tons of digital ink has been spilled on this subject, some even in defense of these LLMs (that were trained on whose writing?). I guess if you are trying to have the experience of being an author, perhaps even a published one, then putting in the actual work is secondary.

That is missing the point though. They will never know the joy of being tucked into little imagination cocoons and having the words appear like magic. It’s real magic, not some algorithmic proximation. When the dialogue dances from your brain to your fingertips, and onto the paper. 

That is the real joy of writing. Don’t get me wrong, being published is a writer’s goal. As part of that goal, we network, receive critiques, we fine-tune our stories and polish our words. There is no effort to be had by typing a prompt, and the effort is what makes it great.  The fact that it isn’t always easy is what brings writers back as much as those sessions where the writing flows.

This is where machines can never go. They just have a pile of words to apply to a mathematical formula.  Because you can start with one word. An LLM could offer you many words after that, but pick your word. 

Make it the best word and only you can decide what is next. Tell a story, your story, not generate words. You know why you chose that word. That one special word can be the key to your imagination. 

If you can feed a prompt, you can write a novel, I promise.  All it requires is one word after the next, except you know all the words, not just the next word. 

Published by Just j

Author, photographer, music nerd and just this guy, you know.

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