As a writer of historical fiction my eye is always on the past – but what of the future? Are there terrifying things coming that authors need to be aware of? Thankfully we have Crime Cymru’s Eamonn Griffin to keep an eye on such things and keep us informed ……
AI and crime writing
There is a great deal of interest, if not concern, about the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in terms of threats to jobs for humans, in eroding the authenticity of life, and in replacing human creativity, craft, and artistic practice with material generated by intelligent computing. This includes for writers, and in crime and thriller writing within that.
So, I quizzed one of the newer AI chat interfaces – Bard, which is operated by Google – about this very question.
I asked Bard to do this: “Write a blog post about whether or not AI is a threat to crime writers”. Here’s Bard’s response:
“Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the world around us, and the field of crime writing is no exception. Some experts believe that AI could eventually replace human crime writers altogether, while others argue that AI will simply augment the work of human writers and create new opportunities for creativity.
There are several reasons why AI could pose a threat to crime writers. First, AI is becoming increasingly capable of generating realistic and engaging text. In fact, some AI-generated text is already indistinguishable from human-written text. This means that AI could potentially be used to create crime novels that are just as good as, if not better than, those written by humans.
Second, AI is becoming increasingly efficient at processing and analyzing large amounts of data. This means that AI could be used to research crime scenes, identify patterns in criminal behavior, and develop new theories about crime. This could give AI-generated crime novels a significant advantage over human-written crime novels in terms of accuracy and insight.
However, there are also reasons to believe that AI will not pose a serious threat to crime writers. First, human writers still have the advantage of creativity and imagination. AI can generate text, but it cannot come up with original ideas. This means that human writers will always be able to create crime novels that are unique and thought-provoking.
Second, human writers have the advantage of empathy. AI can understand facts and figures, but it cannot understand human emotions. This means that human writers will always be able to create crime novels that are emotionally resonant and engaging.
Finally, human writers have the advantage of relationships with readers. AI can generate text, but it cannot build relationships with readers. This means that human writers will always be able to create crime novels that are personal and meaningful.
In conclusion, AI poses both threats and opportunities for crime writers. However, it is unlikely that AI will completely replace human crime writers in the near future. Human writers will always have the advantage of creativity, empathy, and relationships with readers.
In addition to the above, here are some other ways that AI could impact the crime writing industry:
- AI could be used to help writers research crime scenes and develop plot lines.
- AI could be used to generate realistic dialogue and character interactions.
- AI could be used to create virtual worlds that writers can explore for inspiration.
- AI could be used to provide feedback on early drafts of manuscripts.
Overall, the impact of AI on the crime writing industry is still uncertain. However, it is clear that AI has the potential to both disrupt and augment the work of human writers. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between AI and crime writing develops in the years to come.”
Umm, thanks, Bard (we’re back to me now, an actual human person and everything). A few brief observations.
First, the US spelling notwithstanding (I’m based in the UK, and Google/Bard knows this), this is generally readable and straightforward to understand, if a little bland. The text is never less than grammatically functional, and there are some relevant albeit generic points made. The algorithm is working hard to present text that’ll not cause any offence. That’s all good. I can see from this that there’s a place in theory for this kind of automatically-generated text in a range of applications.
There’s no sense of a person here, though. I’ve had day jobs in education for a quarter of a century, and the kind of anodyne functionality offered by Bard is in no way real. People (and especially students) don’t write like this. And besides, if you come at me with “some experts” as Bard does in the text’s first paragraph, you better reference your sources, my virtual buddy.
Could someone use the AI script as a basis for their work? I daresay that’s already being done. I could have passed Bard’s offer as my own with a little tweaking, I reckon, should I have wanted to.
Are these kinds of AI chat applications threats to crime writers, though? I’m going to say not. There are all kinds of AI-related writing tools out there, from the spell check aspects of word processing software, to grammar and style applications like Grammarly and Hemingway App. And they can be useful. But they’re in no way even the beginning of a replacement of a novelist (yes, you can insert your own joke about that writer whose works you affect to despise here).
Maybe a chatbot like Bard could throw out – through randomisation if nothing else – useful ideas for plots, characters, ways to get away with fictional murder and the like. But that’s really no different from waking up with a good idea. We writers have to be open to the random, not least so we can write about other people from their points of view.
The wheel didn’t replace the sledge. The synthesiser didn’t replace musical instruments. Microwavable burgers and Pot Noodles haven’t replaced restaurants or home cooking. Innovation tends to add to what was there before, and it’s the same with AI.
AI is a set of tools. Some useful, some not. Tools for us to use, to elect not to use, to work past or around or in spite of. People evolve faster than machines, no matter what the science fiction novels across the way in the bookshop might say. Plus, we like making stuff, and we like stuff made by others.
So, I reckon we’re safe. That’s no reason to be either complacent or dismissive, though. Keep a weather eye on what’s going on, and be interested in the development of the technology. Besides, there’s fuel for new stories here.
So, asking Bard to write a blog eh? Mmmm food for thought…..thanks Eamonn
You can find out more about Eamonn on this link where you will also find further links to his website and Amazon store