The Impact of AI Authors on the Human Connection in Literature and Creativity

The implications of a future where AI robots could create viable literary works have sparked fear and anxiety among writers. Imagine a marketplace flooded with books authored by AI neural nets. The thought alone is terrifying. During an onstage fireside chat at an Authors’ Guild event, Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger and I delved into this topic. Although I cannot speak on behalf of the nonprofit, one revelation emerged during our discussion that offered a unique perspective. What if you read a novel that you loved, only to discover afterward that the author was not a human being but an artificial intelligence system? I posed this question to the audience and almost every hand in the room went up. The reason behind this feeling of being cheated lies in our innate desire for human connection when we engage with any form of art. We seek something more than just great content; we want to establish that connection. Even when we read works by authors long dead, like Chaucer, we become acquainted with their minds and can’t help but imagine conversing with them. The Northern Star guiding my exploration of challenging AI issues has been this epiphany about the significance of human authorship.

Recently, I attended a press briefing held by Google product managers, discussing the new AI features of their large language model-powered chatbot known as Gemini (previously Bard). The enhanced Gemini, they claim, will “supercharge your productivity and creativity.” While productivity gains can indeed be achieved through algorithms, the impact on creativity is worth examining more closely. Google provided examples to illustrate Gemini’s capabilities. One example involved organizing snacks for a kids’ soccer team. Gemini could efficiently determine the responsible individuals, send personalized emails, and even map out the destinations. Undoubtedly, this automation saves time and streamlines an otherwise tedious task. Productivity is optimized.

However, the second example provided by Google raises intriguing questions. They presented Gemini as being able to generate “a cute caption” for a family dog picture. The suggested caption read, “Baxter is the hilltop king! 👑 Look who’s on top of the world!” While this caption is clever and fun, it forces us to reflect on the purpose of sharing content on social media — the core of which is human connection. When we share a remark attached to our dog’s picture, we are engaged in a conversation. But using a ghostwriter, even an AI bot, creates a disconnect between us and our friends or followers who read the caption.

The epiphany about the meaning of human authorship aligns with the fundamental essence of literature and art. When we immerse ourselves in a piece of writing or any other artwork, we yearn for a connection, an emotional resonance with the creator. This connection extends even to authors who lived centuries ago, like Chaucer, whose works continue to captivate readers today. The ability to commune with minds from different eras is a testament to the power of art to transcend time and space. We gain insight into these authors’ lives, thoughts, and emotions, enriching our own experiences as we engage with their creations.

While the advancements in AI and its impact on literature and creativity cannot be denied, it is crucial to strike a balance. The integration of AI technologies can undoubtedly enhance productivity, streamline processes, and offer new possibilities. However, it is equally important to remember the importance of the human touch. AI may be able to produce content that is shape and form flawless, but it may lack the depth and emotional connection that comes from human experiences and perspectives.

As AI continues to evolve and infiltrate various aspects of our lives, it is imperative to ensure that the human connection in literature and art remains intact. AI can assist, support, and amplify human creativity, but it should never replace the essence of human authorship that readers crave. Striking a delicate balance between automation and human touch will be crucial in preserving the authenticity, emotional resonance, and enduring power that comes with traditional literature and art. Let us embrace the advancements while safeguarding our human connection within the realms of creativity, literature, and the arts.


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