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Good essay, Julie! I really appreciate how you tackled the plagiarism and originality questions with nuance and without even a hint of moral panic.

I'm low-key obsessed with ChatGTP. I've used it in some humor pieces, but I sort of use the AI as the punchline. For example, I asked ChatGTP to write a fundraising letter for my Substack because I hate asking for money. The writing was off, but it was off in a way that I could work with and spin into my own humorous request for people to upgrade to paid subscriptions.

I've also been asking ChatGTP questions that are based on song lyrics. Example: I confessed to shooting the sheriff, but who killed the deputy? The AI answers are interesting, but ChatGTP is never in on the joke. To your point, the AI is really good at replicating our collective humor, but it doesn't really have its own sense of humor, and therefore it can't really make its own original jokes. Of course, it is getting better all the time. I think they just released a new version! So maybe this comment won't age well. We'll see. Again, really good essay here!

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Thanks, Michael! I know, a realized a new version was released (after I wrote and scheduled this post, ha!) so maybe it can already do better.

I do have to say that I am more than willing to hand over some mundane writing tasks that I don't enjoy to AI and I do feel like it will probably take some of those over? And yes something like helping you write asks for money completely make sense.

It's funny because I used to have a really black and white sense of the plagiarism/originality stuff and my thoughts on it have evolved over time. But I do wonder how things will land for a lot of creative stuff with AI (although I'm still hopeful there is room for the creativity/originality of human work).

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I think I used to have a really black and white sense of plagiarism/originality too. It was probably informed by whatever honor code my school used. I suppose it would've evolved as I matured and became a writer, but I think my views also became more nuanced because as I came of age, the internet became a thing, and it pretty much blew up my idea of plagiarism/originality. I mean, I still understand the basics of putting work out there that isn't your work, but with so much stuff out there, it's also increasingly possible that your work ends up being pretty close to someone else's work.

One thing I'd be curious to your perspective on is what might happen if we become accustomed to giving that low-level writing stuff to the AI? My sense is that it'll be a huge hack for writers who already have experience, but I'm wondering what it'll do for new writers? A lot of my early writing experience was in journalism, and often times I'd write stories that were pretty basic. A good example would be turning a baseball box score into a 200 word recap. It's not sexy stuff, but it was good foundational experience. I'm not freaked out that there are AIs that can do that job, and I'm not worried that they'll necessarily replace human writers, but I am worried that new writers won't have the same foundational opportunities. Then again, maybe I'm just overestimating the value of the grunt work I did when I was younger. But since you teach writing to young writers, I'd be so curious to hear your thoughts.

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I think it's a legitimate concern and one I've been trying to think through too. I've been following some educator discussions and one analogy that has come up is calculators. We have calculators, but kids are still taught to do math by their own calculations before they start using a calculator to get foundational math skills and number sense (and I definitely still use mental math in some situations).

I feel like it will probably be the same with writing in that they will still need those basic skills although maybe they will atrophy if they are used less. I've heard that before the written word people had better memorization skills so it makes sense that skills may evolve a bit.

The class I'm teaching the most frequently right now is business writing and I'm trying to think through what AI means for those writing scenarios. Something like a cover letter is often a bit formulaic anyway and I can see AI being used in a similar way as a template, but a lot of everyday professional writing is just emails that I guess you could plug into AI to create, but in reality there are so many of them in most professional writing situations that I think people will still need those skills to be able to quickly respond to someone with a decent email. But I do wonder how things will change exactly too.

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me:

"Write a witty, appreciative comment in response to a newsletter issue titled 'Can a Chatbot Help You Write Humor?'"

Chat AI: "This newsletter issue on using chatbots to write humor had me in stitches! I never thought I'd be taking comedic cues from a robot, but hey, if it works, it works! Who knows, maybe soon we'll have bots performing stand-up comedy gigs. All joking aside, kudos to the team for coming up with such an innovative and entertaining concept. Keep the laughs coming!"

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😂 Obviously the best use of the chatbot is to write witty internet comments for us.

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This is a clever & terrifying use of ChatGTP.

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I'm just a random middle-aged dad on the internet, but I'm pretty confident AI will never replace human art. I think it'll compete, and it'll force humans to adapt and evolve, but we're doing that all the time as is. AI technologies will just accelerate this reality.

If anything, the arrival of new technological advances tends to create more, completely unexpected types of work. They're not always good, by any means, and are often soul-crushing. But the idea that our computer overlords will put us all out of work one day doesn't align with historical precedent.

Great piece. Just subscribed.

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Thanks! Yep I tend to agree that it will probably just evolve and hopefully the more creative an interesting writing to the humans.

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I wrote something along the same lines, where I asked it to write a layoff notice in the style of Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss, Edgar Allen Poe, and most notably, Donald Trump! It got The Donald's voice pretty well.

I think it missed a bet by not doing him as just "You're fired!"

https://albertcory50.substack.com/p/chatgpt-is-laying-you-off

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It is interesting to play around with! I can see how it could capture voice of well known writers and other public figures pretty well.

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How had I never heard of the Conan lawsuit? Crazy.

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It was definitely interesting to follow!

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