Send in the clones

Everybody’s writing about Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days. My morning paper has as least two articles a day on the topic. Now that apparently anybody can write something using AI, those of us who write for a living are out of luck. This is the end of the line, maybe even the end of an era.
Writing had its beginnings when he/him she/her first started telling stories to others around fires and continued through the invention of moveable type, stage productions, and then the silver screen. The Industrial Age replaced the Agrarian Age but farmers continued to grow food. I can’t see a scenario where AI and real writers can co-exist.
Imagine a future without real writers. All newspaper articles will sound the same. There will be no individual voices, no columnists, no editorials, unread or otherwise. Even Letters to the Editor will present predictable prose. TV newscasts will be delivered by zombies. Sixty Minutes will show footage of flora and fauna. Any protest to the new ways will be mired amid all the other forgettable items on Y, formerly known as X.
Even Tom Hanks is into the act. “Beware,” warned Hanks recently on his Instagram account. ‘’There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it.” And you thought we already had a problem with fake news. As Bachman Turner Overdrive sang in 1974, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Of course they cribbed that from Al Jolson when he said “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet” in 1927 but both references were long before AI.
To date, accuracy by AI has been an issue. I heard about someone who asked one of the CHAT bots to write a biography of himself. According to the bot, the man was dead. Institutions from high schools to universities have a bigger problem. So far, a professor can usually spot most AI-produced essays because they sound like they’ve been written by a machine. At some schools, students are sent packing on the second AI submission. Such oversight will have to continue and will get in the way of good student-teacher relations. Other fields of pursuit will become equally corroded. All in all, I see a fraught future where nothing seems real and everything is suspect. I don’t look forward to suffering through an even more divisive world.

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