ChatGPT is an AI language tool that can produce essays, blog posts and prose in a matter of seconds. It’s applications have been numerous already, and you’re likely familiar with the ins and outs of it too. That said, we’re all thinking about how the technology might be utilised in the future too. The consensus is often changing. Some countries have gone so far as to ban ChatGPT, and then reinstate its use later, for instance. It’s a new technology, and that means (hopefully responsibly) testing the waters regularly.
Authors have long been revered in society and culture, but technology has influenced both enormously too. Will the two co-exist peacefully, or will the former be usurped by the latter? Let’s discuss this line of enquiry below, and present a case for why ChatGPT may not be used to stock bookshops anytime soon.
It’s worth remembering that ChatGPT hardly produces original content. Everything it creates is a practically another version of something a human has created. Not even school pupils can get away with copying someone else’s work, and no exceptions will be made for AI in an authorship context either. Of course, there’s always the argument that few texts are wholly original these days. All creative works are likely inspired by something that came before to some degree. Still, there’s obviously a world of difference between rewording someone else’s text and using a bit of inspiration as a jumping off point for a fresh creative pursuit. Authors are artists. They’ll likely fiercely guard their work and summon all the legal powers they can muster at the faintest whisper of ChatGPT being used to plagiarise their work. Moreover, authors would likely rally together were such a thing to happen.
Credible authors will draw a line in the sand when it comes to the use of ChatGPT. There’ll likely be no grey areas around that. Some may even think the use of the software as outright repugnant.
Unfortunately, Hollywood screenwriters have been concerned about AI replacing them for a while. Their concerns are justified; the studios hardly care about them and will cut costs however they can. Multi-millionaire Disney chief Bob Iger is prepared to put thousands of people out of work so that he can make a few million dollars more, or at least preserve his current (outlandish and undeserved) wealth.
Authors likely won’t face the same measures. They’re their own bosses and produce work for no one else but themselves, their publishers, and of course their readers. In many cases, they exercise full jurisdiction over their work and legally own everything they produce, rather than passing it along to a studio for them to warp and bend out of shape, whether with AI’s help or not. That dynamic gives them an advantage over how they work, and how their work is used.
Any would-be author found to be using ChatGPT in large part would likely be frowned upon by their peers and the wider public. Becoming a published author is a highly competitive and ultimately gruelling endeavour, and there’s no question that fame and reputation help books sell. The very thought of being caught using ChatGPT will be enough to make some authors nauseous. Words like ‘fraud’ may be hurled their way should such a thing come to light. Ultimately, there’s likely no coming back from that type of reputational damage.
Is there a market for AI-generated books? The short answer is no.
Readers love to feel a connection with an author. Of course, there are authors who’ve earned themselves devoted followings; Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Patrick Ness are sometimes named as people’s favourites. The list of names grows exponentially when you factor in writers who’ve since passed away, too, with their workers revered decades, or even centuries, after they’ve left us.
That’s part of the fascination with reading. What experienced influenced the writer? Where did they grow up? Who did they encounter that perhaps helped shape a character in their text? Researching the answers to these questions can sometimes be just as thrilling as reading the novel itself, and can even lead us to re-read them with entirely new perspectives and appreciations.
There have also been exciting and terrifying ways that readers have influenced authors over the years too. One could argue it’s a real connection with all the good and the bad that can sometimes entail. ChatGPT is a non-entity in these dynamics. It has no place amongst them, nor will it ever.
Many writers that have dabbled in ChatGPT have likely asked it the same question; “will you one day replace me?” It’s an understandable thing to ask. Currently, the AI’s answer to this query is ‘no’. It frames itself as a tool to be used by writers, rather than something that will one day render them obsolete. While this isn’t a bulletproof argument for it never replacing authors, there is something at least partly satisfying about the AI confessing to its limitations, particularly when some of its ‘champions’ refuse to do so.
I'm a freelance copywriter with an undergraduate degree in English Literature. I've written for many different outlets, including but not limited to marketing agencies, graduate recruitment websites, and online training companies. I've even interviewed a few famous actors for student and arts blogs too! Covering a wide span of material has been incredibly rewarding, as I get to turn my experiences in the arts, education and careers into helpful advice. I sincerely hope you'll find something to your liking here!