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A Problem, A Promise, and New Potential
Have you ever heard the song “Changes” by David Bowie? Those of my vintage will remember its catchy beat and lyrics. (If you haven’t or want to revisit a classic, check it out here: video ) If anything, Bowie was an innovator with a poignant message to share. In the song, he suggests we “turn and face the strange”… at no time in my life has that proven to be truer than with the advent of ChatGPT. This is an advanced form of AI that uses natural language processing to achieve feats previously unheard of, such as writing an essay in minutes, completing a complex coding operation, passing a benchmark exam like an MBA, and engaging in philosophical conversations, among other things.
Released in November 2022, it attracted over 100 million active users within the first two months and has since caused dust-ups over how and when it’s used, including an ongoing writer’s strike that began in Hollywood where two labour unions representing 11,000 writers are demanding limitations on AI. Even the CEO of the company OpenAI who created ChatGPI has appealed to parliament in the USA recently asking for the technology to be regulated. It’s predicted not only to be an internet interrupter, but to have increasingly broad implications for every aspect of our lives from work and school, to entertainment and social media. Wow!
While I am no expert, I’ve been thinking about this technology and whether I’ll integrate it into my business operations for the Leadership Literary Lab (L3). It goes without saying that I won’t ask the app to write any of my fiction work. It’s one of the inherent limitations, I believe, in that the algorithms can only process information that already exists. It has an adaptive memory, but doesn’t “think” or “feel”, so it wouldn’t have the nuance that’s necessary to convey the cultural, temporal, or emotional elements of a story. When it comes to the L3 course though, I might experiment with it to do some research on articles around the technical aspects of language or issues relevant to new writers, such as “how is voice defined in literature?” I’ll report back on how that goes as the course evolves.
While I recognize the looming problems of ChatGPT, (for example, how is a teacher to know if the work that is coming across their desk was written by a student or a bot?), I also see the potential for tremendous advancement. In the end, it comes down to human beings - how we use our knowledge and the tools available to us - which is no different than any other innovation throughout history. For my part, I promise to use it within appropriate limits to the betterment of my clients and even my own writing. Can I learn from a bot? Potentially, things are ch-ch-ch-ch-chAInging…
Bendigo Writer’s Festival 📚
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend the Bendigo Writer’s Festival. This festival was different from Clunes in that it was hosted by the town in conjunction with La Trobe University, so it had a more academic feel to it and featured a tremendous number of talks with political undercurrents that provided rich fodder for discussion. The weekend began with a delicious gourmet meal at a gorgeous chapel turned restaurant, followed by brunch the next day at the Golden Dragon Museum. I learned about immigrants with Chinese ancestry in Australia and spoke with author and award-winning journalist, Louisa Lim, about her mixed heritage and growing up in Hong Kong. She introduced us to the home that she sees disappearing in her lauded (and in places, banned) book The Indelible City. If you want to learn about the King of Kowloon, I’d recommend it here: Louisa Lim
Dragon Head (body is 125 meters long!) in Golden Dragon Museum, Bendigo
Farewell Australia 🇦🇺
After a long foray through Australia, I am heading home in a couple of days. I’ll be following up with you on several developments in my fiction soon, but I hope you won’t mind if I sign-off a bit early on this edition. Beforehand, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all the people who made my experience here so rewarding, especially JLS.🙏
In Next Month’s Issue…
A new release, and a follow-up on my nom de plume contest!
Warmly, Mary Lynn, The Wild Rose Writer