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AI-assisted writing



What unsettles me about recent advancements in neural networks is AI-assisted writing. Not the student essays (students have always been cheating) or articles but the usage of artificial intelligence in our everyday communication up to a point when most of it will be constituted of artificially generated messages and responses. The text represents my interlocutor in the absence of their body. Their choice of words, syntax, and grammar portray their personality in their material absence, establishing their distinctive identity. And I, in turn, construct my own virtual identity through the text I produce online.


Even in their current state, AI-assisted writing is impressive. It can comprehend the context and generate perfectly written responses in any tone and style; the only thing it lacks is authenticity. No matter how good or bad your language skills, it works as an eerie equaliser, levelling the writing and failing to present any individuality along the way.


There was a recent case with a Russian artist called out on Instagram about the political stance they formulated in their post written in immaculate English. And one of the jabs suggested that it was so insincere that they just prompted AI to generate the apologetic post. Whether true or not, and precisely because there's no way to tell anymore, I find it unnerving.


A friend recently sent me an article about Spotify removing tens of thousands of AI-generated songs. Most of which, apparently, were listened to by bots. And I remembered this talk by Zizek, where he introduced a concept of a perfect date when both partners bring their sex toys, a fleshlight and a vibrator, put one into another, turn them on, and then spend all their time drinking wine and discussing Hegel. And indeed, why go through the trouble of living through an (at times traumatic experience) listening to music when a machine, not unlike a Borzoi dog on TikTok, can do it for you?


Similarly, I imagine an email conversation conducted exclusively by machines. I ask it to generate a perfectly written response to an AI-written email I've just gotten, and so on. But where, then, are we, who were supposed to drink wine and discuss Hegel?


Image: Venus Rising From The Sea - A Deception by Raphaelle Peale (1822)

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