The digital age has been a double-edged sword for authors, positioned at the intersection of innovation and preservation. This paradox came to the forefront with the recent news about the unauthorized use of thousands of books for training Meta's AI language model. While this incident has given rise to legal battles and ignited public discussions, it has also stimulated profound debates about the concept of authorship and the broader impact of AI on our society.
Yet amidst the apprehension, Ian Bogost, presents a refreshingly unconventional perspective in his recent The Atlantic piece. Bogost challenges the gravity we often attach to authorship by pointing out that all content holds a certain democratic equality, even though the literary world may prioritize published works over Amazon reviews or Subreddit posts.
This discussion unveils the intricate interplay between authors, technology, and the evolving concept of authorship in the digital era. However, this article aims to look at AI, not as a replacement for authors but as an enabler for those who don't see themselves as writers to ‘better express their thoughts, thereby expanding the pool of public conversation'.
Book authorship – a privilege for a select few?
Throughout history, book authorship has often been the privilege of the most fortunate individuals. In fact, until recent history, even owning books was considered a luxury. After all, even in the contemporary era, where the majority of individuals possess the capability to write and valuable knowledge worth sharing, becoming an author remains a privilege. It's not just a matter of skills and knowledge; it also entails another important currency: time. Besides, even those who possess the necessary resources confront considerable odds when striving to see their work in print. In fact, in the book publishing industry, it is widely accepted that the likelihood of an author getting their work published typically falls within the range of 1% to 2%.
For those who lack the time, writing skills, or resources to embark on the traditional path to authorship, AI offers a promising alternative. AI, in this context, is not a replacement for human authors but rather an enabler for those who have valuable knowledge to share but may struggle to articulate it in writing. For example, many subject-matter experts want to impart their knowledge but lack writing skills or time. Typically, their only recourse would have been to hire a ghostwriter, which is a significant expense often reserved for a select few. AI technology helps bridge this gap by providing a cost-effective and accessible means for experts to transform their knowledge into well-structured written content, thereby fostering inclusivity in the content creation process.
The traditional barriers to becoming an author, such as the requirement of exceptional writing skills, available time, and access to ghostwriters, are no longer insurmountable obstacles. AI technology levels the playing field, allowing a broader spectrum of individuals to participate in the literary world. It brings a sense of democratization to the writing process, ensuring that it is not confined to a select few with the necessary resources.
AI – hero or villain?
Rather than being labeled as a hero or a villain, AI should be seen as a silent co-creator that helps bring ideas to life. AI is not just about generating content but also about making writing more accessible.
One of the significant benefits of AI in writing is its potential to facilitate the engagement of neurodiverse individuals in a wide range of workflows, including the creation of literary content. People with conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia, or autism often possess rich and valuable insights but may struggle with conventionally organizing their thoughts. In this case, AI takes on the role of a silent co-creator, effectively dismantling the barriers that neurodiverse individuals might encounter in the writing process. By aiding individuals in the transformation of their ideas into well-structured manuscripts, AI is providing opportunities for those who, despite their talent and knowledge, might face daunting challenges in their writing journeys.
By leveraging AI's capabilities, neurodiverse individuals can harness their unique insights and contribute to the literary landscape, challenging established norms and adding diversity to the voices and narratives found in literature. In this way, AI proves to be a powerful tool in making the world of writing more inclusive and allowing neurodiverse individuals to share their knowledge and experiences effectively. Therefore, AI should be appreciated for its capacity to assist, enable, and empower rather than feared for its potential to replace human authors.
Conclusion: The essence of storytelling remains unchanged
Ian Bogost's argument in his piece for The Atlantic raises important questions about how we define authorship in an era where technology, particularly AI, plays an increasingly significant role in content creation. If writing is an act of sharing knowledge and ideas, then AI should serve to advance this purpose by ensuring that the act of writing is accessible to everyone.
The democratization of writing through AI is not a threat to the essence of storytelling. Instead, it upholds the fundamental purpose of writing by ensuring that knowledge sharing and ideas are accessible to everyone. The digital age and the rise of AI should be viewed as tools that enhance the democratization of knowledge and facilitate the inclusion of a wide range of voices in the ever-evolving conversation of the written word. As AI technology continues to advance, it becomes an essential partner for individuals who aspire to share their expertise, experiences, and ideas with the world.
The core purpose of writing and storytelling remains unaltered. AI catalyzes achieving this purpose by making the act of writing accessible to all. It does not seek to replace authors but rather to empower them and expand the boundaries of the writing landscape. As technology advances, more and more people from diverse backgrounds have the potential and the chance to share their insights with the world. The democratization of writing through AI ensures that the world of ideas remains open to all, regardless of an individual’s background, abilities, or resources.