hand holding phone with ChatGPT on screen in front of AI blue background

Rokas Tenys/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Can AI ever fully replicate creative writing?

It’s an issue that’s part of the current writers’ strike.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 10, 2023   Updated on Jun 12, 2023, 12:57 am CDT

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Ever since OpenAI’s release of the chatbot ChatGPT in November of 2022, there’s been mass panic around AI replacing humans’ jobs.

For some, ChatGPT is a useful tool to seek information about a variety of topics. The chatbot can also write documents such as business proposals and resumes. But people are more cautious about AI’s ability to replace or supplement creative work such as screenwriting or songwriting

It’s an issue that’s part of the current writers’ strike. The Writers Guild of America is asking for an increase in pay, as well as protection against how AI is used in Hollywood. The WGA’s proposal sheet states: “Regulate use of artificial intelligence on MBA-covered projects: AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI.” 

AI came up frequently at the ATX TV Festival, which I attended last weekend. At one panel, called “Artificial Intelligence & Us,” actors, writers, and creators discussed how to navigate the new technology.

The biggest issue about AI like ChatGPT? It doesn’t automatically reveal its sources—or it gives flat-out wrong information. And that’s a big problem if multiple industries are using this technology. But some people believe AI will improve with time.

“AI is moving at the speed of capitalism,” said The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach during the panel. He also scoffed at the idea of AI only being able to write bad scripts. “AI will write Succession,” he said.

Alena Smith, creator of the Apple TV+ series Dickinson, was more skeptical. AI “shines a direct light on the parts of us that are not replaceable,” she said, adding “there’s going to be a categorical distinction between what can be made by robots and what cannot.”

A sentiment I heard repeated at the TV festival was that it was unclear if quality writing was even the goal for all productions. If a show or movie feels like it was written by AI yet still gets a lot of eyeballs on the screen, it’s considered a success.

This week, Empire reported that Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker tried to see what ChatGPT would come up with when told to write an episode of the Netflix horror anthology series, which releases its sixth season on June 15. The result? “[I]t comes up with something that, at first glance, reads plausibly, but on second glance, is shit,” he told the magazine. 

Why it matters

There’s been a slew of layoffs in the U.S. across tech and media companies in 2023. And while artificial intelligence wasn’t to blame for all those layoffs, it was a factor for some companies that were eliminating positions.

AI is affecting many industries, and we need to figure out some best practices before it gets ahead of us. 

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*First Published: Jun 10, 2023, 6:00 am CDT
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