Breaking radio silence to share an interesting post in which a Redditor does the math and proves that AI writers suck. Boy, do I hate being right all the time. Ready for a deep-dive you can share with your ‘AI is going to take your writing job’ friends? Let’s go!
I revisit the whole ‘how good is AI for creativity’ discussion from time to time and this breakdown was too good to pass up. More and more writers jumping on the ‘I use AI in my writing’ bandwagon remind me of some white trash carpetbagger trying to be the first to strike oil. All you have to do, the theory goes, is let the AI churn out the first draft. Then you come in, clean it up, and you’re an amazing prolific author – huzzah!
Meanwhile, I’m over here going: ‘good for you, Cleetus – you’ve discovered a new way to kill the planet.’ No rational author who is in the business of human connection can honestly say that AI will help get them closer to that endeavor. AI has its place, but it can never take the place of human artists (please read the entire article before you say I’m being hypocritical).
No, AI isn’t taking your art job. Not tomorrow, not next month, not next year – art is a human expression that seeks meaning and connection. The only thing an AI can do is realistically fake that endeavor. It can get close, but it’ll never cross the uncanny valley. This Reddit post helps explain why in both detailed and meaningful ways. Take a look:
Last year over winter break (Nov/Dec 2021), while my family was arguing about what to do for Thanksgiving and I was bored listening to them fight, I decided to try out about 10, maybe 12 different Ai programs that were supposed to be able to write novels.
I saw a thread on Reddit, forget which sub, that was “doomsday preaching” how ai programs were the end of writing careers, oooooh woooe is us, our jobs are gone, boo-hoo… and they listed every novel writing ai out there. Intrigued by how much they thought their life and career was over, I decided to test out these so called doomsday ais that were going to end our writing careers, to see, are they really as good as that user was saying? COULD any of them ACTUALLY write a full novel?
The list had 34 novel writing ai programs, but only 13 of them offered a free trial, and I wasn’t willing to pay money for something I wasn’t even allowed to see a test sample of. So, I only tested out the ones which offered free trials.
I spent most of the week, clicking the next button of each program… an entire dull boring week of nothing but next, next, next, next, next, next, next… and eventually I got 10 “books” written by Ai.
The results were…uhm…interesting?
Each one gives only you one to 5 sentences at a time (240 words per next-click was the highest any of them would go in their free trials, though some said the paid versions did more words), so it takes days of being bored with clicking the next button, before it actually reaches even a 10k word short story (I can type 5k words a day, so I can type in 2 days what it took Ai to type in a week).
Most of the Ai programs stopped at 10k words and then announced my free trial was over as 10k was the max limit, then sent me to the subscription page. Sooo… of the ones I tried, all but 2 stopped at the short story word count of just 10k words, and did not offer the ability to reach novel length word counts.
The only 2 I was able to get past 10k words with was Dreamily and AiDungeon, both of which I was able to surpass 50k word novels in only 3 days each, of clicking next, next, next, next.
And then …
The CHEAPEST one was $79 a month, with a limit of 10k words per month. Meaning, even after you paid $79, it would give you another 10k words, then go dead for the rest of the 30 days left, and on day 31, after you paid yet another $79, it would recharge for another 10k words.
Uhm… I publish a 15k story weekly, I can write 10k words in a single day, with no trouble. This program was the LEAST EXPENSIVE of the programs and was asking me to pay $80 for something I could do on my own in a single day. What a money scam!
But even then, these programs were spitting out 30% to 80% gibberish mixed with outright plagiarism and huge copyright infringements. I’ll explain in a minute, what I mean by that.
The BEST paid one, best as in most readable end product, was $399 per 200k words typed.
NONE of the paid ones offered enough words typed in a 30 day period to classify the word counts at a novel.
Most of them were going to cost $500 to $2k worth of subscription in order to buy enough typing time for it to type a standard 120k word Fantasy novel.
And then …
But then there was the output.
For each one, I started with the first paragraph from a novel I had published in 2014. The 1st paragraph included all 3 main characters, but did not include place names, names of other characters, etc. I wanted to see how different the result of each would be if each was given the same start. The word BoomFuzzy is unique to this novel, and was in that first paragraph.
Guess what? Plagiarism is a BIG, BIG, BIG, HUGE problem with these Ai programs.
ALL of them.
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.
Apparently each of them has my 2014 published novel in their database because each one of them started adding correct details… eye colour, hair colour, ages, hometown. The paragraph I gave them said the character was named BoomFuzzy, and gave no details about him. The ONLY identifier was that one word.
The Ai quickly spit out sentences calling him a Lich Lord and a Unicorn, stated he lived in a gingerbread house, called him The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, and stated the gingerbread house was sitting on a volcano located in The Forest of No Return.
That was all information that could in fact be found in the novel published in 2014. But none of that info was in the paragraph I submitted into the Ai program.
It got worse…I pulled out my paperback copy of the 2014 novel to compare results…the Ai programs were pulling out full sentences unchanged.
One of them gave me an entire 500+ word segment of my novel without changing a thing! Outright plagiarism!
Which Means …
My conclusion…it appears that Ai programs are nothing but massive databases of previously published books, and these programs do not actually generate new sentences at all, rather instead, they pull sentences out of previously published novels and scramble them up, then spit them out in a logical order.
But the fact remains…not a single line of original newly generated text came out of a single one of the ai novel writing programs I tested.
Okay? Can We Be Done Now?
What’s the takeaway from this detail and nerdery? Simple: AI has its place, but it can never take the place of human artists. It can get close, but AI will never cross the uncanny valley. No, AI isn’t taking your art job. Not tomorrow, not next month, not next year – art is a human expression that seeks meaning and connection.
My thanks to SacredPinkJellyFish – as a Redditor who does the math and proves AI writers suck, they are making the world an better place for every non-AI writer out there. Keep going, your victory is still out there to achieve.