Relying on AI for writing
I had been playing with ChatGPT for some time, but it was only after reading Hassan Osman’s book ChatGPT for Nonfiction Authors that I started to realize its potential.
For example, Hassan mentions on his book he asked ChatGPT for an outline for the book. The final outline is a merge of two different versions created by the algorithm. Of course, he could do that because he knew enough about the domain to judge if the proposed outlines had some value.
One question over the table is whether most writing in the future will be done by ChatGPT and similarly trained AIs, or whether it’s a threat to authors.
For people writing copy to market some product or service, or generating content to trick the search engine’s algorithm to rank their page higher, probably ChatGPT is a real-time saver. It lets you skip the “thinking” part of the work. I’m afraid will be seeing a lot of AI-generated copy in the future, both on websites and in unsolicited emails.
Tools like ChatGPT are trained with pre-existing material. They are, essentially, great pattern-matchers. If it’s true that “there is nothing new under the Sun”, then AI may have a significant role in the books that will get written from now on. But while most creative work is based on previous work, new work doesn’t come just from remixing old material. It comes from mixing it in a certain way, coming to a better synthesis, and finding an original perspective.
It can help you make better use of ChatGPT is to consider why you write. Paul Graham’s article Putting Ideas Into Words can help us understand the value of writing:
If writing down your ideas always makes them more precise and more complete, then no one who hasn’t written about a topic has fully formed ideas about it. And someone who never writes has no fully formed ideas about anything nontrivial.
Writing is not only about the output. You get value from the process of writing. Not only that, it’s in the process of writing where you synthetize ideas and add value to the final text. ChatGPT is a tool in your tool chest, but by no means saves you the effort required to clarify your ideas, and come to new ones.