AI Integration

AI Technology– is it the end for creators?

AI has arrived in the world of publishing. Is it welcome?

AI. Two letters that evoke such strong feelings. We have doomsdayers predicting the end of the working world as we know it. And then there are others who praise the technology as the best thing since sliced bread. So which is it?

I think there is a reason people are afraid. There has been evidence of competently executed manuscripts and artwork by this new technology. I believe it was Stephen King, who used the technology to generate an example of artwork that was spot-on for one of his potential books. The staff of sci-fi magazine, Clarkesworld, had to close submissions for their annual writing contest in January after they were flooded with AI generated submissions. But were those submissions successful? “It was “easy” to see which submissions were machine-generated,” said the magazine.

One can argue that will change in the future and people will soon be unable to differentiate as easily. But I still have to say, I don’t envision an AI program completely taking over the creator industry. Call me naive- but I just honestly don’t.

Thirty years ago the first computer beat the best chess player in the world. Everyone predicted the end of chess. Why bother anymore? And yet– my son just had over forty kids sign up for his after school chess club this past winter.

There will always be the fun in the “game” to draw people into wanting to create. And people will always still be drawn to the human element both in and behind the creation. People want someone to root for and relate to. People want to get to know the author or artist. They want to know what their inspiration was. What their thoughts, process, and difficulties were during the creation. 

One can argue that’s not always the case– hence why I’ll even agree some AI generated work will most definitely enter the marketplace. But this is why I feel it will never dominate the marketplace.
Now, what I do envision happening is a divide between the creators who embrace this technology and the ones who don’t. Just like the technology in the past, those who grow comfortable and find ways to utilize it will be the ones to rise to the top.

And there are plenty of ways to utilize this AI creator technology without having it replace us. Who couldn’t benefit from gaining time by dictating and immediate editing software? Meaning in addition to grammar– it would correct awkward sentence structure and misuse of words. This alone could save hours of rewrites and drafts.

There is also AI narration. No, we do not want to replace human narrators entirely. But it is costly to use a human narrator, limiting what we can get made into audiobook format. Utilizing AI for shorter works, bonus content, sneak peek chapters etc., could greatly increase our marketing potential and library of content.

Overall, the Hollywood writers on strike are partly right that we need to examine how the technology is implemented and how it will affect writers and their pay scales. Jobs might change. But do I honestly envision an AI program writing a writer out of a job completely? No. 
Instead of living in fear, let’s be strategic and discern how AI can make our lives better and more productive.

What are your thoughts on AI? As usual, I always love to hear from you. Please share below in the comments!

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Plagiarism or Inspiration

Plagiarism or Inspiration? How Do We Know the Difference?

Is there a fine line between them?

Plagiarism or Inspiration?

Plagiarism or Inspiration? How do we define the difference?

Did you read Grapes of Wrath  in school? What about Of Mice and Men? I know I even got to teach Of Mice and Men  to my 9th graders. And I have to say, as much as many of them complained, it was actually one of my favorite texts to teach.

Steinbeck has a complex reputation in our literary canon. His books continue to reign on assigned reading lists, but people also tend to have extremely strong love/hate reactions to him. Perhaps, this is because he truly was a very complicated and controversial figure in life.

One of the thornier topics he encountered during his popularity was the source of his inspiration for The Grapes of Wrath. Few will ever forget that scene where Rose Sharon uses the breast milk from her stillborn baby to save the life of a starving man. But was this profoundly moving scene the fruit of Steinbeck’s imagination?

Smithsonian Magazine  published an interesting piece a few years back about another author named Sanora Babb who published about the Dust Bowl. What was interesting about the piece was the mention of the copious notes Babb took during her firsthand interviews with migrant workers. These notes were shared with Steinbeck by the same editor who published both of their stories. In those notes- there was a scene with a stillborn baby and a mother sharing her breast milk.

This begs the question- what actually is considered plagiarism when it comes to authors’ inspiration?

I had a conversation about this recently with a book club I visited. We asked if any new story could ever entirely be new? Or ever told exactly the same way? Think on it- how many World War II historical fiction books are out there? How many authors inspired by the same chilling photograph or event in history?

Now think on eyewitness accounts in court. Do any two witnesses ever retell the same event exactly the same way or do each bring their own unique perspective to the retelling?

Kristin Hannah admits in interviews that the inspiration for her novel The Four Winds came from her love of Steinbeck. She wanted to write an updated version of his classic story. And although the books have similar themes and elements, I’d say she succeeded in telling her own unique story.

Perhaps there needs to be some grace given in storytelling. Although the word plagiarism is defined as taking of someone else’s words or ideas, I’d say it is very difficult to prove from where ideas originate or what happens after the same inspirational idea strikes.

I mean, if we were truly to take that definition at face value, couldn’t we potentially argue that every love triangle, natural disaster or genre-based trope is an idea born from someone else?

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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