As a novelist, I must admit that the emergence of the Artificial Intelligence wonderkind Chat GPT, which apparently is now smart enough to write a book, gives me serious pause.
I suppose we writers are alright for now, given that the bot tried to write a Seinfeld episode and made me laugh for entirely different reasons than its intended humor.
But still the concern remains; what will A.I. do to the writing community? If we replace artists with AI, composers with code, painters with PCs, then what will the future look like for those who have been burdened with the unwavering desire to entertain?
Automation made the auto industry boom, and that's great for Ford, GM and the like. But for the workers on the line that had to tell their families that they were replaced by a giant mechanical arm with a spot welder on the end of it - that is willing and able to work 24-7 - not so much.
In every era of human existence we've had to struggle against the elements, unknown mathematical equations, fighting an instinct for aggression and growing communities that forced us together.
But never have we faced a threat of our own making until now. In fact we face two: A.I. and Climate Change. I won't get into the latter.
The premise of "The Terminator" is based on Artificial Intelligence getting so smart that it realizes humans are the problem and wipes us all out 'in a nanosecond."
40 years later as A.I. has begun to take hold, Elon Musk has repeated that sentiment, telling a reporter that it would be foolish to think that A.I. would have empathy for humans if it calculated that we were the ones causing all the world's problems. The Matrix had a similar theme to it.
Just like when we put out ant traps to rid our homes of the pesky vermin - no feelings behind it, just logical - so could A.I. determine that it's time to offer that fate to us as well, despite the fact that we are its creator.
In my first novel, "The MindSet Chronicles • Book One: The Deletion", I start the story from a different angle; what if A.I. determined that humans had been over-connected, over-stimulated, but deserved to live, not perish?.
The program developed to regulate the worst impulses of humans on social media, W.A.I.T. (developed by scientists Bethany Anne Okoyé and her team of "Brainiacs"), determines that it's the safety of distance and anonymity that brings out the worst in us.
The W.A.I.T. program performs not a decisively brutal act upon humans, but the opposite, an unselfish and benevolent act; it kills itself and destroys all means of wireless communication across the globe, sending humanity two hundred years into the past - a time that becomes known as The Deletion.
Back to the whole threat to writing thing...
Right now, I'm not worried that SkyNet is going to send terminators after all of us (Have you seen Arnold lately?) No, I just think A.I. is the modern mechanical spot-welder, created by the master to reduce costs, time and hassles.
And it's kind of fun to type in What if Danny DeVito played the Joker? and see the results.
For now, at least, A.I. remains a bit of a novelty. But it won't be that way forever. It's more likely that A.I. will simply assist with writing in the future as authors can retain control of their stories. The savvy author of the future could utilize this to his or her advantage.
To all the writers out there, I would say keep your fingers limber and the keyboard close. There's no computer program that can replace what's in your head - at least not yet. So, get it out!
Or as my buddy said to me when I found out I was going to be a dad for the first time, "Better write that Great American Novel now, dude, because pretty soon, you won't have the chance."