AI: The End of the Human Novelist?

I recently had a discussion with a friend about the future of fiction with the advent of AI technology. Understandably, he was quite worried about what was coming down the road. Massive innovations in Chatbot technology have started to make writers nervous about what lies head. Are you worried?

ChatGPT is the leading Chatbot today. It utilizes a vast library of language and deep learning that will only improve with time. While it’s not yet able to write a fully formed novel, it’s only a matter of time before that happens. And when it does in a convincing manner, watch out.

Will AI ever be able to write with heart and genuine emotion like a real human being? Some people think it never will be able to form an authentic consciousness, or reasonable facsimile, to write a great novel. I think that remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t surprise me if one hundred years from now advanced chatbots are able to duplicate human efforts in fiction, music and in the arts.

Certain genres, like romance and science fiction, may be easier for a Chatbot to mimic. Maybe even crime writing. Poetry too. And possibly even children’s books, especially books with art. I envision a day when it will be producing art and pop songs. There are also copyright issues involved. Engineers might one day program a Chatbot to write a novel similar to the novels written by J.D. Salinger, Hemingway or Shakespeare.

There are many ethical considerations to consider, as well. What if the creators of these bots decide to program political statements into their code and by doing so rewrite history in their fiction. Or assign value judgements to events that causes the AI to veer into dangerous territory. Like Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Chatbot could become ‘aware’ and write novels that might persuade people to rise up and revolt against their government. Or push dangerous, radical theories.

Of course, publishers and corporations will love the financial aspects this development. With AI writing novels and creating music and art, they will never have to pay royalties. And with deep learning, these computers will be able to create art quickly, and on the cheap for the masses. 

Are you worried? I’m not, although my friend is terrified of this development. Besides, what can we do about it? Being a Luddite will not stop the technological juggernaut that is coming our way, whether we like it or not. I suggest that we keep on writing, pouring out our heart and soul into our fiction. We humans are a unique and special creature, and I’m not sure any AI technology will ever be able to match the wonderful gifts our creator has endowed our species with. That said, I don’t believe there’s anything we can do to stop AI ‘progress’.

What do you think as a writer? Are you resigned to what’s coming or hopeful that human creativity will in the end win out over artificial intelligence. I’m interested to hear any and all feedback on this subject.


About joesouza

I am a writer of crime novels
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16 Responses to AI: The End of the Human Novelist?

  1. jselbo says:

    What a world.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So far…ignoring it. Too distressing to think my 35 year apprenticeship can be matched by a machine.


  3. matthewcost says:

    Ah, AI will never be able to mimic the twisted mind that resides within my skull.

  4. Alice says:

    Great food for thought, Joe.

  5. David Plimpton says:

    Thanks for your post, Joe. You raise important issues for both writers and readers. At 82, I guess I’m old-fashioned in thinking that only a live person (he, she or however else they self-identify) ought to be able to obtain patent or copyright protection. I haven’t thought it through completely, but I think about things like responsibility for libel, slander, and algorithms that spread misinformation and disinformation. How do we counter that or find a live body or organization that is or should be responsible? Where does A-I or any other new paradigm fit in with that?

    Here is an article that tries to address some of the issues, perhaps especially relevant as our and other nations’ cultures and politics seems to be moving to the Right. But I hope not inexorably.

  6. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    Daisy, Daisy…I’m reminded of 2001: A Space Odyssey, where technology certainly ran amuck. Since I prefer people to machines (mostly), I have no interest whatsoever in AI-generated content. But I think, like Dave, we’re doomed anyway, LOL.

  7. Pat says:

    I think as long as it’s not possible to write under somebody else’s name, most readers will continue to read people created books and view people created art. They will do their research into a favorite author. I look at the sales of vinyl records which are increasing by leaps and bounds. Maybe some are re-mastered but others are not and that is what more young people want to hear and I think will translate to AI created books. I’m not a writer, but I am an historian and in the end I think Fake writing will be flushed down the drain of history by people who care.

  8. Perhaps this will impact formula stories. As long as readers consume stories that do not truly reflect the beauty of human consciousness, the stories can be written by machines which can only reflect the reflections of other writers. Can they come up with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s description of a smile or Tana French’s making a face like “a toad licking piss off a nettle”? Maybe readers have to become a bit more discerning. Just a thought.

  9. John Clark says:

    Will civilization be around that long? I think not. Anyhow I’m too bizarre a thinker to worry about competition from a chip.

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