I’d almost argue that ChatGPT, though it’s not at the same quality yet, could replace creative writers. In one of the articles cited for this week’s pathfinding discussion, there was one quote in particular that had me thinking about a point from my senior seminar last Wednesday.
While ChatGPT can provide suggestions and prompts to help writers overcome writer’s block and generate ideas, it cannot create original content on its own.Sunil Kumar, ChatGPT: The Future of Writing and What it Means for Writers
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. While ChatGPT might be of concern when it comes to the question of replacing writers of any kind, I would say that this doesn’t change the game as much as we might think– it just makes the flow and course of eventual change maybe go a bit faster.
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.
We hear so many “unprecedented” or “historic” things on the news. Christians get so scared that we’re nearing the end times as if we haven’t been in the end times since Jesus ascended to heaven and we were left not knowing exactly the day He would come back. There are so many “new trends” and hot topics (whether cultural, political, etc.) that I’m not going to list off right now that are in essence the same things that happened in ancient times, just with different names and contexts. My point is probably best summed up by this:
7 All streams flow into the sea,Ecclesiastes 1:7-9 (NIV)
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
We discussed this a few weeks ago in Bible study because some people started to mention that the enemy seems to always have new ways or new things to deceive or entice people with. The reality is though, the devil does not have the power to read our minds the same way that God knows every fiber of our being. What he does instead is he takes what we say or do and notes how we hold ourselves (even the small things like posture can say a lot about what someone is thinking about themself or how they feel in their environment) and twists that. 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.
And we are somewhat limited to that as well, though I also see that the rephrasing of the same ideas can affect how one constructs a new world within creative writing. This is part of what makes us as human beings unique– we have this creative capacity that one might attribute to the fact that we are all made imago dei. We are still currently limited to time, space, and matter though– and in the case of this discussion, somewhat limited to language. There are ways of creating new words, regardless of whether they become proper or some dialect-specific terms, but even these words are often based on the ideas of other words. I mean think about it, even the English language is made up of several other languages from several different language families (hence why English is often considered a difficult language to get the grammar, spellings, and proper phrasings right). Celtic, Gaelic, Welsh, and Cornish in England originally… then the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes bring in Germanic languages… then St. Augustine brings in Latin… and somehow French and other romance languages got in there too.
So frankly, I think the biggest thing to worry about with ChatGPT isn’t that it will replace creative writers. I think it’s more along the lines of this: