Upon the topic of authorship, before reading any of the articles, I immediately thought of two Bible passages (shocker, I know). The first was Genesis 1, the creation story. Everything was created by God’s Word– the very Word that, as John explains in John 1:1-14, came down as the light that shines in the darkness. And as I’m writing this, another verse came to mind: 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)– “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” There’s this divine authorship about the entirety of creation, about the Bible itself (given its 40 authors across 3 continents and about 1500 years and still having a consistent and cohesive storyline)… and we were made to reflect that. Genesis 1:26 says “Let us make man in our image, to be like us…” There’s an interesting Latin term that roots from that verse: imago dei. Here’s the thing with that term though: yes, it can translate to “in His image,” but it can also translate to “doing as He would do.” And this is where authorship comes from for us as people– it’s part of the very core of our identities, whether we recognize that identity or not.

“The voice in a piece of writing is a defining characteristic that touches the reader instinctively” (Carlow U). Just this quote had me thinking of how pertinent word choice can be. For example, I asked ChatGPT to describe a heavily infected wound in one sentence and regenerated the results six times. These were the AI generated responses:

  1. A heavily infected wound may be red, swollen, painful, and exude pus.
  2. A heavily infected wound may present with increased pain, redness, swelling, pus, and a foul odor.
  3. A heavily infected wound is characterized by increased pain, redness, swelling, and pus or drainage.
  4. A heavily infected wound may present with increased pain, redness, swelling, and pus discharge.
  5. A heavily infected wound can appear swollen, red, painful, and may discharge pus.
  6. A heavily infected wound is characterized by increased pain, redness, swelling, and drainage of pus.

You can see the pattern, and while it may provide a picture, it may not be pungent or repulsive as a heavily infected wound might be. You don’t feel the radiating heat of the wound just before you touch it by these descriptions. You might see a still picture of the puss excretion, but you can’t quite visualize or smell the volcano-like eruption of sticky, yellow, pungent, rancid goo as some small but excruciating degree of pressure is applied near the edges of the now tomato-colored skin.

My point is, AI may give a still picture, but it does not give life to the picture. Sure, the image I used is not the ideal picture of life, but it is a part of life on this side of eternity nonetheless. And while every life is lived and experienced differently, almost every life here on earth comes physically from different parents, there’s still a pattern that shows life does not come from anything else but life.

Every life also has a trace of its original source. Justin, the author of the Gold Penguin article, starts with this question of what originality really is, which I really appreciated given one of my recent posts that also explored this topic. To sum up the idea of that whole post, here’s just a portion of it:

The key word that make me think of an article we read last Wednesday was original. In this article, Kenneth Goldsmith poses the argument that “The world is full of texts, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” Goldsmith mentions the ideas of other minds such as Marjorie Perloff and her idea of the unoriginal genius. Essentially, Goldsmith implicitly asks his audience what we should really consider plagiarism, especially given there are authors that have created pieces of other authors’ works– works of unoriginal genius known as patchwriting. So as I skimmed through the articles for this week, I also thought of ChatGPT is basically just an algorithm that does this patchwriting for us.

So what really is original? I’d argue that there really isn’t anything under the sun that’s truly original. I would have somewhat argued otherwise before reading this article, but there is so much information out and available these days that something truly original is hard to come by. I might even say it’s impossible, even from a faith standpoint.

The devil isn’t creative– he has no power to create but is only out to steal, kill, and destroy. Rather, he’s crafty. He takes Truth and twists it in such a way that we see our own truths being created. He’s an unoriginal genius, of sorts.

original. Bianca I. Wargo

But regardless of how these stories, words, things, ideas, you name it are twisted or molded, they all reflect the same Creator. All things were created for good, they’ve just been used with ill will– thus these things have been left with traces of creators that we see in the every day life of the physical world: people. And that’s not to say we as people always mean the worst when we create– we typically don’t, I know, and that’s because we still do bear the image of a good God, whether we recognize that God and accept our identity in Him or not.

So with that said, Originality, the program Justin writes about, will likely still detect things as “unoriginal” even if it is truly original to the author and no AI tool and no plagiarism is involved. Sure, language is constantly evolving, but there are only so many letters in the alphabet, and only so many different words we can reasonably create aside from the many (but still limited) catalog of English vocabulary. The same is also true of any other language, including computer code.

And this got me into a deeper question that I think I’ll leave us with for today: where does authorship begin? I know I already have my own (probably pretty predictable by now) answer to this question, but it is nonetheless an interesting topic of conversation that I’m sure we’ll get into for next class.