I’m ramping up on my writing, as the last few days have shown, partly because of the stuff I wrote about in Procrastination Complete, and also because I have clear goals regarding RealityFragments and myself. Not every piece has to be ‘perfect’ to me.
I’m also working on a book in the background, which is of dubious value since it is about the world today and how broken it is, why it is so, and maybe a better way to look at the problem(s) and thus come up with solutions. It may get abandoned, it may not, but it gives me a focus. Every day, I try to write at least a page, but it does get… well, it doesn’t feel that productive at times.
When that happens, invariably, we humans look for ways to boost productivity, which is a tyranny unto itself because we spend time being less productive to become more productive. As part of this procrastination strategy this morning I came across this article in Slate, “The Great Fiction of AI“, which circles the drain about how awesome some people think SudoWrite is. Curious, I checked the pricing for SudoWrite and found 3 options: $9/month (10,000 AI words), $29/month (50,000 AI words per month), and $99/month (200,000 AI words per month).
Considering the revenue one gets from writing, which isn’t that much, I boggled. We have this habit of buying things to help us become more productive that don’t, we have a tendency to spend money on tools that may not pay for themselves, and I’m not sure that I’d be willing to spend if I’m not going to see a return. So I did an experiment. There’s a free trial, so why not give it a shot?
I fed it the text from the above paragraph. It gave me two more descriptive options:
* Considering the revenue one gets from writing, which isn’t that much, I was taken aback. We have this habit of buying things to help us become more productive that don’t, we have a tendency to spend money on tools that may not pay for themselves, and I’m not sure that I’d be willing to spend if I’m not going to see a return. So I did an experiment. There’s a free trial, so why not give it a shot?
* Writing was not a profitable endeavor, but the lure of becoming a bestseller lured me in. I did not have the knack for it, like my mother, who had packed grocery bags with her self-published books and sold them for a dollar to people on the street and in bookstores every year. The thought of making a living from my passion had always been a mirage in my eyes. One day, however, I had learned that someone got rich from writing children’s science fiction novels. Since then, I had wondered how one goes about doing this. There were new age ideas that might help: office spaces that look like science labs and visual tools on the walls and houseplants to make us feel relaxed. I was close to shelling out two thousand dollars for one such office when I read about a free trial. I had almost forgotten all about it, but here was this sign, telling what time the free trial started and gave me the website address.
The first one made sense. The second one was… what the hell is that anyway? The first one simply replaced ‘boggled’ with ‘was taken aback’. That would seem more reasonable to me, and may even be easier reading for some, though I think it takes away the emotional level of being boggled, which in my mind is not as mundane as being taken aback. A style issue, really.
This lead me to question what the AI had been trained with. I found it in the SudoWrite FAQ:
“The underlying models were trained on the entire crawl-able internet (historically from 2011-2019) and tens of thousands of books. In other words, a large chunk of available human text.”
This means that it was trained on what was available on the Internet between 2011 and 2019 plus digitized books. There’s an implicit bias in that, with whatever was available on the Internet during those times and whatever books had been digitized – a problem of technocolonialism in that what is omitted is also omitted. I also have to wonder what happens when an AI is trained on what another AI writes, because we’re getting to that stage as well.
I’m not sure AI is ready to replace writers. It can augment them, as it looks like SudoWrite does, but Sudowrite does require at the least some words to get started. Is it worth the money to use? I honestly don’t know. I’ll have to experiment some more.
(If I use it on a blog post for the trial period, I’ll point out what SudoWrite was used to add.)
2 thoughts on “AI and Writing”
Hey Taran, great read! I particularly enjoyed your in-depth discussion of AI in writing, since it was something I hadn’t really thought of before. Being a fellow blogger myself, I also really appreciate how organized and well-formatted everything was – it definitely made the content much more digestible overall. Keep up the awesome work!
Thank you. 🙂