The AtlanticThe Atlantic

The future of writing is a lot like hip-hop

By Stephen Marche

09 May 2023 · 9 min read

Editor's Note

The Atlantic's Stephen Marche was asked to produce an AI-generated novel. His conclusion? Creative AI simultaneously holds the power to change everything and yet, paradoxically, nothing at all.

Creative artificial intelligence provokes a strange mixture of contempt and dread. People say things such as “AI art is garbage” and “It’s plagiarism,” but also “AI art is going to destroy creativity itself.” These reactions are contradictory, but nobody seems to notice. AI is the bogeyman in the shadows: The obscurity, more than anything the monster has actually perpetrated, is the source of loathing and despair.

Consider the ongoing feud between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The writers are on strike, arguing, among other things, that studios should not be able to use AI tools to replace their labor. “It’s important to note that AI software does not create anything. It generates a regurgitation of what it’s fed,” the WGA has claimed. “Plagiarism is a feature of the AI process.” The AMPTP, for its part, has offered ​​“annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology.” Neither side knows exactly what it’s talking about, but they feel they have to fight about it anyway.

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