An article in The Wall Street Journal on April 4, 2023 ("Who Owns SpongeBob? AI Shakes Hollywood's Creative Foundation") raised an important copyright question. Perhaps a more important question, considering the poor state of education today, is whether the average person will be able to distinguish between the product of human creativity and that of AI. I remarked once, after reading my website posted first chapter of a novel I wrote decades ago (Lies In Progress), that I admired the writing but remembered virtually nothing of the plot and would be unable to re-write the book today. A fellow writer on the Authors Guild Community Bulletin Board explained this, stating that creative writing derives from the unconscious which closes when the production is completed. With which I agree. I can't conceive of AI producing the twists in even one of my short blog pieces which incorporate psychological fact with personal and professional experiences. Still, as I said, will today's average-schooled person be able to tell the difference, or value it?
A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life
A February 4, 2023 article in The Wall Street Journal ("AI Tech Enables Industrial-Scale Intellectual-Property Theft, Say Critics") bemoaned the effect of artificial intelligence software on the production of creative works, some believing it would be its death and certainly reduce the financial livelihood of creators. I am less pessimistic, being unable to conceive of software that is capable of truly mimicing a human mind. Literature derives from the unconscious part of the mind which, after mysteriously opening, closes when the creative work is completed. I now lack motivation to write the fiction and non-fiction books that I wrote or even can conceive how I did. Moreover, artists have always had a difficult financial time. H. Somerset Maugham, one of the most commercially successful writers of his time, wrote "...the successful books are but the successes of a season...the writer should seek his reward in the pleasure of his work and to release from the burden of his thought; and, indifferent to aught else, care nothing for praise or censure, failure or success." Sage advice from a master of the craft. As I advise teenagers who wish a creative career: first figure how you'll support yourself, then try it part-time before deciding.
Many great books have never been created as an audio edition so what I've been playing with is listening to them using the TTS of Amazon and Google with an old Kindle E-book (version 2) and a modern Android (8.1) smartphone. The speech using this AI is obviously robotic and not terribly enjoyable but I've listened while doing chores. Human-read books are vastly better. Amazon has a Polly AI which is commercial and cheap and I listened to a sample. It is much improved over the others but still not perfect. There's a human emotion fluctuation after a comma and a period which it doesn't get quite right. I found this interesting and wondered if, sooner than later, AI produced audio books will put human readers out of business since it is so much cheaper. Or if it is already being used by publishers. There are already very human-like news readers in China with an increasing ability for news stories to be AI created. All-in-all, it's a fascinating development. But I don't believe that AI will ever push serious writers out of existence. For them and most people, creativity is what counts.