We humans will soon be drowning in text and images, if we’re not already. Your TikTok, podcasts, email inboxes and favorite websites will be overrun with “content” that will be synthetic, manufactured out of thin air by code.
I’m generally a technology optimist, but I’m feeling a little pessimistic as I watch the explosion of AI writing and writing tools. Just like most of us have lost basic arithmetic skills, the ability to do math in our heads, because we rely on calculators, we’re at risk of losing the ability to come up with unique ideas and thoughts.
What do we lose when we turn over the writing to machines? More importantly, what are the benefits of creating for the creator? What’s in it for she who takes the time contemplate how to put one word in front of the other in such a way that others will be able to understand, to be persuaded?
We write because we can. But, we should be conscious of what the writing itself does for us. It helps us remember. Recalling and committing things to words helps lock them in, at least temporarily into the actual neuron network in our brains.
Writing forces us to clarify what we even know and believe. Translating the buzz and jumble of ideas, images and words in our head into a relatively clear string of letters, phonemes, words, sentences and paragraphs literally forces order and logic onto our increasingly scattered brain (speaking for a friend).
Writing gives us a chance to persuade. As we commit the ideas to words, we can choose what arguments we make, how we structure them, and how we support them.
Writing gives us a chance to get good at a craft. At our best, we might even be sort of poetic. There are a few among us that might even leave behind actual art via their words.
AI, however we define that, will result in an amazing toolbox for humans, a mix of apps, devices, agents and oracles that will make our lives easier and better in unimaginable ways. Within the next 5 years, everyone will have a device on their wrist that can conjure up enthralling entertainment algorithmically, can autogenerate a movie for your pleasure, can make a recommendation so you don’t have to think about it.
As the algorithms get better, as they become more pervasive our natural tendency will be to lean on them even more, to incorporate them into our lives because its just going to be easier to let the machines do it.
Writing is something any literate person can do, but increasingly fewer of us will. It’s a super power for us humans, it’s our way to organize the world, at least in our own heads and on our own pages. If we want to compete and thrive in a world that’s saturated with synthetic, sort-of-good “content”, we have to keep thinking for ourselves, creating out thin air our own ideas and beliefs, and writing is our way to do that.