For me, writing a novel is a process that is both rational and mysterious. Of course I do spend time thinking when I’m coming up with a story, but I also surrender to impulses and cross lines in my imagination that I couldn’t in real life.
For a large language model, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, writing is little more than statistics combined with a massive memory. That memory is made up in part of work stolen from journalists, novelists, poets, playwrights, essayists and screenwriters – work that tech companies sell on in snippets to their customers. This practice must end immediately.
Claiming that a novel or other literary work can be written using AI is the same as claiming that there are set formulas for literary work, that an average sentence is the best sentence. After all, large language models pick the word most frequently used in a given context. A novelist or poet is more likely to do the opposite. Art is what stands out. If big tech companies become so powerful they start using well-oiled PR machines to decide what literature is, then exceptional, unpredictable literary work will be buried beneath an avalanche of mediocre pulp. To prevent this, a broad debate on AI is necessary.
By Anja Sicking, Novelist (https://www.anjasicking.nl), Member of the Working Group AI of Auteursbond – Dutch Association of Writers.