Then they fired the writers

It comes as no shock to me to learn that people who used to be paid to write content are now being replaced with AIs. I know people whose working lives are already being affected by this. No doubt there’s more of it to come.

I’m not personally likely to be much affected because the people who like what I do aren’t looking for cheaper alternatives. My weird imagination, my odd humour and my inclination to write things that don’t fit expected story shapes are not things an AI can replace. All our current AIs can do is cobble together pastiches of existing material – they aren’t really creating and they aren’t really intelligent, although that could eventually change. People who want to consume material from predictable franchises maybe won’t suffer much if the humans are replaced with machines. 

Writing AIs aren’t accurate. They can sound plausible and persuasive, but we’re already seeing in Pagan circles that they can’t quality-assess the information they take in. Uncritically pulling together content from any and all sources is going to cause issues for humans in all kinds of ways. After years of struggling with propaganda, fake news, misinformation and conspiracy theories we’re unleashing a technology that can’t think critically about these things and has no morals. If writing AIs are designed to encourage anything, it will be getting hits and generating revenue. We can’t expect them to be truthful or responsible.

This in turn raises a lot of questions about how any of us might source information in the future. Questions of trust and value will be part of this. There’s scope for deepening cultural divides – if on one hand there are people willing to uncritically consume whatever is cheap and easily available. I suspect the kind of content I want will not be replaced by writing AIs, but it may be a lot harder for human creators to keep going when machines will be so much cheaper and able to churn out any number of words day and night.

I suspect there are serious choices ahead of us all about the kind of world we want to live in and whether we are willing, or able, to pay for things made by people rather than having cheap rehashes made by machines.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

18 responses to “Then they fired the writers

  • Eternal Anglo Seax (ᛋᛠᛉ)

    I try not to be a debbie downer and a fail spectacularly at not being a negative nancy, but Wōden’s beard, I do not, DO NOT, like this AI business. Turned off spellcheck and autosuggest/autocorrect. Maybe shouldn’t have… my screwed up neural pathways might have been ruining an AI somewheres.

    Localism over globalism, I guess.

  • bish

    I hear you. I am finding the same disquieting ideas within photography. It causes me to wonder how far one can process a shot before one may as well hand over to an AI with no link at all to reality. I use processing software like a writer might use a spoil chicken, but eventually may have to reconsider what exactly is photography over AI “art”… I wonder if and how musicians are similarly afflicted?

    • Nimue Brown

      I assume it’s going to impact on all of us sooner or later. But, the more AI art gets fed to AIs the more mad they are likely to get. I find myself wondering about very random tagging, as well.

  • darrack1

    AI doesn’t bleed on the page, to paraphrase Ian Astbury

    ‘You have to bleed a little while you write, least the words don’t mean nothing’

  • MiamiMagus

    I’m so disgusted that for the first time ever, I can’t even write a response to this. I’m actually speechless.

  • becci


    After asking an example of AI for a response about the use

    Sent from Mail for Windows

  • TanekRune

    Huh. You know, I was mostly looking at AI generation in terms of non-fiction. I had not stopped to think someone might decide to write pagan material with it. Well, that could be a frustrating and hilarious world when the AI totally loses nuance and starts suggesting you make a balloon-flower wand for your ritual.

    I needed that mental image today…

    • Nimue Brown

      It’s not like pagan non-fic isn’t already riddled with really unhelpful content, I can’t even imagine where this is going to go, but I think you’ve hit the right sort of level of randomness there.

  • the recluse

    AI is definitely overused and overhyped. The less of it we use, the better.

    That said, I think it’s a little … tasteless to use the title of this post, “then they came for the writers” to implicitly compare concerns about the exploitation of human writers and artists with the Holocaust. “First they came…” was written to call out German intellectuals and non-Jewish clergy for their apathy and inaction allowing fascism to flourish and genocide to take place.

    • Nimue Brown

      That is an entirely valid point about the title, I wasn’t sure how strong the echo would be out of context. I have been talking about the impact on other kinds of artists in previous posts, I’m not sure what the long term impact of this cultural shift is going to be, but I do think there is scope for it to be damaging in a way that will push more people further to the right. I should have made a clearer case in the post for that as an issue, and I will change the title.

  • Geoff D

    I’m not in favour of AI in any guise and certainly wouldn’t willingly buy anything that had employed it.

    But that said, most books in this genre are self-published or at best read/bought by a couple of dozen of people at most. So I don’t see it as an area at all under threat from AI, as there’s nothing in it for them. To assume otherwise is probably a little “optimistic”.

    • Nimue Brown

      A friend of mine who writes professionally just lost her major income stream to an AI because that’s what her publisher decided. So, it’s not just a self publishing issue at this point. Self pubbling is actually quite effective and quite a few known authors are going that route now because the publishing industry is such a trashfire anyway.

    • Nimue Brown

      and if by ‘genre’ you mean Pagan books – absolutely not, I have many friends who are published Pagan authors with sales into the thousands, and fabulous Morgan Daimler has sold 100k Pagan books now.

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