The Pros and Cons of Writing a Novel with AI: Is It Worth the Hype?

When you’re struggling with writer’s block, it’s tempting to try anything that might help you get your creative juices flowing. So, what about using AI to write your next novel?

 As I mentioned in a previous post, many resources are available to writers to help them gather information and hone their writing abilities. Writers may want to add artificial intelligence (AI) to their arsenal of resources.

Photograph of Belinda D'Alessandro. Belinda is wearing a red jacket over a red dress and a string of pearls. She is standing in front of windows with shitters
Belinda D’Alessandro

The use of AI in the writing process is a contentious issue. Some people think that AI will never be able to produce truly unique work and that any work created with the aid of AI is fundamentally unethical.

However, others believe AI can be helpful for authors since it can help them find fresh ideas and resources and save them time so they can focus on other parts of the writing process.

We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using AI to write. We’ll also talk about the moral implications of using AI to write, such as whether a computer programme can ever produce genuinely original work.

The Rise of AI

In an earlier piece, I discussed the various resources available to help you generate original ideas for your writing projects. To what extent does the use of AI fall under that category?

Recent advances in AI have sparked a resurgence of curiosity about putting AI to work on imaginative pursuits like novel writing. There have been attempts in the past to use AI to write, but the latest generation of AI models is much stronger and more realistic.

Using AI in the writing process could have numerous advantages. AI can be used to brainstorm, develop new storylines, and compose entire paragraphs or even entire essays. It can also help you edit and improve your work. Although there are benefits to using AI for writing, there are also some drawbacks. One of the most significant is that your writing may appear stilted or unnatural.

What is AI Writing?

AI writing is the use of artificial intelligence to produce written text. AI can be used to generate ideas, research topics, and provide helpful suggestions on grammar and structure.

For example, you can use AI-based tools to better understand a sentence’s context or identify spelling, grammar, or syntax errors. AI writers can also be used to rewrite existing content or create entirely new content based on an author’s instructions. AI-based content is often used for sales and marketing purposes, as well as for blogs and other types of web content.

This can be extremely helpful. AI-based content is much more efficient and accurate than manual writing when it comes to writing content quickly. It can provide a much more cost-effective way to quickly produce large amounts of content.

Advancements in AI

Gaurav Tewari, founder and managing partner of Omega Venture Partners, discussed the recent advancements in AI in Forbes. Business Insider Intelligence has been keeping up with the latest research and technological developments in AI, including the companies, applications, innovations, and platforms that will shape the future of AI.

It is no surprise that artificial intelligence is now being used for creative endeavours like writing news articles and novels, given these recent developments in the field.

Samantha Delouya asked ChatGPT to write a news article for Business Insider, as did Nick Bonyhady for the Sydney Morning Herald. In the last few years, AI has been used to write many articles on the subject.

“Aside from some predictable writing (which I can be guilty of, anyway), the story was nearly pitch-perfect, except for one glaring issue: It contained fake quotes from Jeep-maker Stellantis’ CEO Carlos Tavares.” Samantha Delouya, in Business Insider

The point of both these articles (and others written with ChatGPT) was to demonstrate AI’s potential in creating original content, but AI-generated content has drawbacks.

OpenAI, ChatGPT’s owner, provides guidelines for co-authored content:

  • Avoid using harmful content;
  • The use of AI-generated content should be made very clear.
  • Put your name on it: you are responsible for the published content.

Delouya mentions in her article in Business Insider that the AI-generated content was alarmingly convincing but filled with misinformation, including fake quotes from the CEO of the company she was writing about.

Dan Robitzski considered how an earlier AI tool, Grover, could generate chillingly credible fake news in Futurism.

But is AI advancement really a good thing?

On the one hand, AI has the potential to inspire and help us come up with fresh writing ideas. But on the other hand, some people worry that AI will eventually be able to write better than humans.

AI has made it easier to develop ideas and do the more challenging parts of writing, but it still can’t fully understand how subtle and complicated language is.

“Right now, ChatGPT feels like a magic trick. It looks incredible as a stage-managed tool. Users can’t be confident yet that it will summarise a meeting with perfect accuracy, for example. And reading machine-generated poetry loses novelty fast.” Nick Bonyhady, in the Sydney Morning Herald

So, what’s the final word? Is the excitement over AI novel authoring worth it? First, let’s explore the pros and cons of writing with AI.

The pros of AI writing

One of the most significant advantages of AI writing is that it can save time and streamline the writing process. By using AI-generated suggestions and ideas, authors can save time and energy that would have been spent on research and brainstorming. This gives them more time to focus on writing a compelling story or creating original content.

Additionally, AI-generated content can also be used to produce more accurate and reliable texts. AI-based tools can provide consistent and error-free output, reducing the need for manual editing and providing authors with higher-quality results.

AI-made content can be changed to fit the style and format of a company, making sure that products and services are consistently presented professionally.

Using AI-generated content, writers can be more creative and productive, making them better products and services.

Any other benefits of using AI in writing?

Another advantage of using AI for novel writing is speed. AI programmes can generate vast amounts of content in a short amount of time, making them perfect for writers who are on a tight deadline. AI can also analyse existing texts and generate new content based on them, giving writers new ideas they may have never even considered before.

Another key benefit of using AI for writing is its ability to think and develop new ideas. AI can be trained to recognise trends and generate ideas based on data and trends. This can help make content more creative, innovative, and fresh.

AI can also automate writing, taking care of mundane tasks such as copy editing, grammar, and spelling correction quickly and efficiently.

AI programmes can detect grammar and style errors and suggest changes that can improve the text.

This can be especially useful for writers who may not have time to read through every sentence and look for errors.

The cons of AI writing

While AI writing can save time and provide accurate results, it can also lead to unintended consequences. For example, writing with AI can limit a writer’s creative freedom and put additional pressure on them to produce results quickly.

As a result, writers may be more likely to fall into the trap of relying too heavily on AI-generated ideas, resulting in overly generic copy and lacking uniqueness. Additionally, AI writing can also produce inaccurate or misleading results.

Despite advances in AI technology, machines can still not accurately predict the context of a particular sentence or paragraph. As a result, they can and do produce results that are out of context or simply wrong. For these reasons, many writers are still wary of using AI as a writing tool and prefer it for research and fact-checking rather than for generating the entire text.

Using AI writing technology can be risky, especially in journalism and other forms of writing that require accuracy and objectivity. This can create problems for writers, who must take the time to read through and understand the AI’s output before incorporating it into their own work.

Other drawbacks of AI-generated content?

Another drawback of using AI for writing is the risk of making the content sound artificial or robotic. AI programmes are still far from perfect, and they struggle to capture the nuances of human language. This can make the writing sound strange or even clunky.

Another potential disadvantage of using AI-generated content is the risk of infringing on copyright. AI programmes can generate content suspiciously similar to existing works, making it difficult to protect your own work against plagiarism. This raises the question of whether AI-generated content is worth using, given the potential issues it could cause. Furthermore, AI programmes can lack the creativity to make the content original and engaging.

The fact that AI-generated content may not be able to capture the subtleties of human expression can be both an advantage and a disadvantage, depending on the context.

There is the risk of creating content that is not suitable for all audiences. AI often struggles to understand the nuances of language that are related to age, gender, culture, and other factors, so it can easily create content that is insensitive or offensive.

The Ethical Implications of AI Writing

The ethical implications of writing with AI have been extensively discussed but are still controversial. Some critics argue that AI-generated content lacks originality and does not reflect the creative spark of a human author.

Additionally, AI cannot understand and incorporate the unique nuances of language related to age, gender, culture, or other essential personal factors when creating content. This criticism is particularly pronounced when it comes to longer and more complex pieces, such as novels and essays.

Additionally, there are concerns that AI-generated content could lead to plagiarism or the promotion of unethical or inaccurate ideas. Others worry that AI-generated content might not be correct or reliable or that it could be used to spread false or offensive information.

According to Christina Pazzanese’s article in the Harvard Gazette from October 2020, there are ethical issues with AI’s expanding role in decision-making across more businesses.

“Can smart machines outthink us, or are certain elements of human judgment indispensable in deciding some of the most important things in life?” — Michael Sandel, Harvard University Law School

Pazzanese also discusses the views of Michael Sandel, a political philosopher and a Professor of Government at Harvard University Law School. According to Sandel, who instructs a course on the ethical, social, and political implications of new technologies, the three main ethical issues that AI raises are:

  • Privacy and surveillance;
  • Bias and discrimination; and
  • The role of human judgement.

The role of human judgement is perhaps the most profound, most challenging philosophical question.

The conclusion? AI has outstanding potential and risk of danger.

The debate also raging about AI-generated art

The ethical considerations of using AI-generated content have also arisen again with AI-generated art recently.

This debate centres primarily on AI-generated imagery’s negative impact on working artists. Some AI art generators automatically opt artists into having their work scraped, requiring them to opt out rather than giving them the option to opt into the content analysis. For example, Katyanna Quach discusses in The Register how Adobe automatically turns on the option in its Creative Cloud services.

Melissa Heikkilä recently discussed artist Greg Rutkowski in the MIT Technology Review (September 2022) and how his style started dominating a new open-source AI art generator.

While this caught Rutkowski off guard, he eventually recognised it as a promising strategy for expanding his fan base. Next, he looked up his name to see if any of his work had been featured in a publication. The search returned results for his name that included content that wasn’t his.

“By far the biggest issue in my opinion, is the ethics of how source data is gathered and used. Right now, many models are fully or partially using datasets such as LAION5B for their source data… Given the sheer size of these data sets, they contain enormous amounts of copyrighted images, and images belonging to living, working artists (and otherwise).” Steve Dennis, in Towards Science Data

Heikkilä discusses the crux of the debate: Artists have voiced strong opposition to AI-powered image generation tools because they learn from previously uncredited works of human-created art found online. They then scrape and remix or even closely copy them without attribution.

Steve Dennis also looked at the ethical debate on AI art in Towards Data Science just before Christmas 2022 and its impact on artists. His concluding point is one of unethical data usage.

Dennis believes that the only genuinely ethical way forwards for AI imagery is to create an open training data set that people must actively opt into. He also believes the financial implications would need to be resolved, with payments for images initially submitted to be used for training data and royalties based on prompts that explicitly use artists’ names.

However, this is not a new discussion. For example, Julia Bossman discussed the ethical issues of using AI at the World Economic Forum in October 2016.

Considerations in fields other than the creative

But do the ethical implications apply only to writing and art? Ben Dattner, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Richard Buchband, and Lucinda Schettler consider the impacts of Human Resources in 2019 in the Harvard Business Review.

They consider that digital innovations and advances in AI have produced a range of novel talent identification and assessment tools. Many of these technologies promise to help organisations improve their ability to find the right person for the right job. However, they leave many yet-unanswered questions about their accuracy and the privacy implications they introduce.

They conclude that modern technologies already blur the distinctions between public and private characteristics, “traits,” and “states,” and anticipate that they will be able to do so more and more in the future. Employers will have a growing amount of access to candidates’ private lives, personal traits, and private struggles and mental states thanks to AI, big data, social media, and machine learning. Many of the fresh privacy concerns have no simple answers.

Is AI-generated content worth the hype?

The answer to this question really depends on your specific needs and goals. If you’re looking for a quick way to generate content or test out ideas without spending too much time writing, then AI-generated novel writing might be worth a try. However, if you want to create something truly original and thought-provoking, you might be better off sticking with human authors.

So, can AI writing be done?

The short answer is yes. AI-based tools are already widely used by both professional and amateur writers to create content. In addition, AI can create unique and original content with the right tools and techniques.

Should AI writing be done?

Whether or not to use AI in writing is ultimately up to the individual writer. There are advantages and disadvantages to using AI-generated content, and authors must weigh these pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

We can ask if blended writing with AI will become an acceptable approach to use our capabilities and time more efficiently. Tools for spelling and grammatical correction are now in everyday use and do not raise ethical concerns. Nevertheless, AI-generated text, even if accepted from a moral standpoint, raises questions on the provenance of the generated text.

At the end of the day

Using AI for novel writing for content generation is undoubtedly an exciting and potentially useful technology. Still, it comes with its own set of risks and potential pitfalls. Therefore, before diving into AI-generated writing, it’s essential to consider all the pros and cons and decide if it is the right you.

Yes, writing a novel with AI can significantly increase productivity and get your ideas down on paper faster. However, there are some potential downsides to consider as well. For example, you may not have as much creative control over your story, and your readers may not appreciate that they’re essentially reading a computer-generated novel.

Final thoughts

The use of AI in content generation is a highly controversial topic. While AI-based tools can simplify and streamline the writing process, there are risks associated with AI writing that must be carefully considered. Ultimately, whether or not to use AI writing is up to the individual writer.

AI is upending many industries, but questions remain about its accuracy and ability to generate plausible misinformation. This can and has led to unintended and adverse consequences for news content. But for fiction, isn’t this what you want? Indeed, this is what one would want in terms of vision; the ability to accept a story with the knowledge that it is plausible and factual.

In my view, AI can never replace the ingenuity and creativity of the human mind. While it may be a valuable tool, AI is limited in capturing the nuances of real-life scenarios and relationships. It cannot provide the unique perspective and emotion that only a human being can bring to the process.

Therefore, its primary role will always be — and should always be — a very minor one (if at all), and to serve as an assistant in the story-telling process, not a replacement.





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