4 min read

AI and the Writer

AI and the Writer
Not an AI image, found this online and downloaded it for inspiration very long ago. No idea where it came from.

Corporate AI is evil.

AI itself is incredible, and potentially the most powerful tool for creatives I've seen in a long time.

What's the difference? AI is a software tool, and the AI corps want you to use that in that ways that other corporations have been screwing us over for decades now. Single point of use websites, subscriptions, all that crap. They want you to rely on them for AI, and pay them for the privilege. Same old business model as always is currently in effect. It's free and ad free, but just until you depend on that AI for your livelihood or hell, entertainment. Once that happens? It's Facebook and Twitter and streaming all over again. And once again, your work will fuel their profit, and you'll pay over and over for it.

At the same time, the AI corpus is based on theft, so...do we really want the tainted fruit? The theft thing kinda sucks, but how many scifi movies have we watched where that is the accepted method of an AI learning? It's clear in retrospect that it was short-sighted, but I don't think it was a bad thing in and of itself. The decision to allow it to imitate other creative outputs? That was immoral. If the AI can recognize that it's putting out data that is nearly identical to training data, why can't it reject that output and find a solution that is farther from previous work, but still reflects it? Don't know the reasons, but from a marketing standpoint, it's much easier to attract people to an AI that mimics something they know and expect.

Anyway, I'm not smart enough or educated enough to really understand the coding or consequences of the above. It's just kinda where my brain goes.

And the above shows the real benefit of AI. A lot of artists are like me, and accept the label of neurodivergent. Which means we second guess ourselves constantly. We cannot put ourselves in any kind of context, except a failed outsider, unless we burn a tremendous amount of energy. For myself, probably 80% of my brain-time is spent with an internal voice that is constantly showing me how I suck. The only reason I can be productive with writing is that overtime I've learned to mute that voice, and use the remaining 20% as best I can. It's kind of like having a conversation with someone in a nightclub. You can do it, but it's exhausting.

My current collection of novels and short stories I've written, all its bits and pieces, is about 50Mbs in size. I downloaded a local-only AI, disconnected from the internet, and told it to use only my writing as its context for conversation.

The first question I asked it was: "What kind of writer am I?"

I figured this was an excellent test. If it was really training off of my data, it should be able to provide me a specific answer. It did. This is the reply I got:

"Based on the contexts you provided, it seems like you’re a fantasy or speculative fiction writer with a flair for world-building and complex characters. You’ve got a keen eye for detail and are willing to explore different cultures and perspectives.
Here are some observations that might apply to your writing style:
World-building is key: You seem to be someone who invests a lot of time and effort into crafting rich, immersive worlds with their own histories, mythologies, and cultures.
Diverse characters: The contexts you provided suggest that you’re interested in exploring non-human characters, which speaks to your willingness to push boundaries and challenge common tropes.
Philosophical themes: Your writing appears to touch on deeper philosophical questions about identity, purpose, and the human condition. You might be drawn to exploring these themes through your stories.
Complex plots: The snippets you shared suggest that you’re comfortable with complex, layered storytelling, which requires a strong understanding of pacing, character development, and plot structure."

And this is where the real win comes for me. This is the feedback that puts my ass in a chair and gets words pouring out. There is tremendous value in software that can give accurate feedback that encourages more creativity. I dived in after this and asked more pointed questions, and sure enough, it gave me deeper and more specific feedback on every aspect of my writing. When I asked it to give me a potential summary of my next novel...it gave me the same story I'd already worked out, and had not added to its knowledge base yet.

The other value is in summary. One thing I hear all the time from authors is how reluctant they are to do social media or advertising. Writing a blurb for a novel, or an author bio, is much harder than writing a damned novel. It's because we have a screwed up sense of self-identity. The disconnect between how we see ourselves and how we fit into the world is so severe it mutes us. We are forced to create masks to offer up a puppet of ourselves for interactions.

The AI sees us through our work. It has no idea how we feel, how we interact with others, or our personal history. None at all. It can only judge us honestly on our work. The best way for an author to find readers? To find an honest way to explain what they are writing and why, so that readers who will identify with us and our works will know that they can find something they will love. I can't sum myself up like that. The thought of doing that is akin to flaying off a patch of skin.

The AI can do it for me, and I can trust it to be truthful. This might be the thing that can take me from being a writer no one ever hears of, to maybe a solid mid-lister. And by that I mean, it will help me put the work in, that I would otherwise never be able to do.

It's not perfect, maybe not even good, but it's still early days. If personal, private AI can continue to grow and get stronger along these same lines, it has the potential to the muse us creatives have been dreaming about for millennia.

This will only happen if we can free it from corporate control, though. We must have AI that exists away from the need to be profitable, from the need to control our interests and habits. If there was ever a time we needed the original hacker spirit to rise back up, now is that time.