Tag Archives: ai

Artificial Intelligence—does it live up to the hype?

The above definition was “written” by the ChatGPT interface, an artificial intelligence.

I had the idea to use AI after reading a book on how to generate passive income. I played with it a bit and decided to see if I could do what the book suggested, let AI generate a year’s worth of blog posts in a week to free up some of my time. I soon learned that this was easier said than done.

There is a pattern to the way AI—and ChatGPT in particular—formulates its blog posts. For example, the structure of most posts it generates is the same, beginning with an introduction, providing a list of three to five items complete with subtitles, and ending with a conclusion that says virtually the same thing as the introduction. If you don’t like what the AI produces for you, it can be regenerated, but there is no guarantee the new content will be significantly different.

It took me close to two weeks to generate enough content for 52 blog posts for my sister site, largely because I had to rewrite, revise, and pad most of the blog posts. Rumour has it that Google won’t index blogs it thinks use AI, so I had to do some heavy editing to make the text sound more like me than directly copied and pasted from the AI interface. I did, however, do a few plagiarism checks using Grammarly, but there was no indication that the AI had written anything that might be considered plagiarized.

From generating blog posts, I switched focus to having the AI generate an entire book for me. I decided to create a writing journal-type book with 365 writing prompts. I call it 365-Day Writing Challenge: A Year of Writing Prompts. This took me three weeks to generate enough unique and doable prompts. I learned that AI likes fantasy. Both ChatGPT and Boo.ai sites seemed to default to prompts about people time travelling, losing their memories, inheriting haunted places, travelling to alternate realities, or writing from the point of inanimate objects, which was frustrating. I witnessed the machine learning aspect of AI firsthand when, after more than a week and getting prompts close to what I was looking for, I cleared the list of questions I had asked ChatGPT, and it stopped giving me answers I liked. It took a few days to re-train it to give me get good results again.

As for the question of whether AI lives up to the hype? The jury is hung on this one. It is a great tool for writing blog posts and outlines or getting ideas when you have writer’s block (it can outline whole novels for you if you ask it to and work with it long enough). It’s also good for writing advertising copy after a good revision and edit.

Could students use AI to outline their essays for them? Probably. Will they be good enough to pass teacher scrutiny? Not likely. AI writing tends to be superficial at best. For example, when I asked it to write advertising copy for this website, it took keywords I used in my last few posts and extrapolated that to write the blurb. According to it, I have written all sorts of books in genres I have never attempted (like romance). It also lists book titles I have never written and states that one of my books is a series when it is a standalone book.

In my opinion, the kind of text written by AI is limited. It cannot generate unique ideas, but it can repackage old ones. If you use AI to assist you in outlining your book, it might help you to get started on your writing journey, but if you plan to use it to flesh out your book in its entirety? I will let ChatGPT answer that question for you:

AI-generated writing is typically based on patterns and algorithms that the machine has learned from a large amount of input data. This means that the output is often formulaic and lacks the creativity and originality of human writing. Additionally, AI may not be able to capture the nuances and complexities of human emotions and experiences that are often the hallmark of great fiction.

Moreover, using AI to write an entire fiction novel raises ethical questions around intellectual property and authorship. It is unclear who would own the rights to an AI-generated novel, and whether it would be considered original work or plagiarism.

Happy writing!

Extant casts wide net; may come up empty

image from globaltv.com

image from globaltv.com

It’s Alien.

It’s ET.

It’s Predator.

It’s AI.

It’s Extant, and it’s having trouble deciding what it wants to be.

[Tweet “#Extant is having trouble deciding which #SciFi sub-#genre it wants to be.”]

Extant is the story of astronaut Molly (Halle Berry), her husband, John (Goran Visnjic) and their “son”, an android–called a humanich–named Ethan (Pierce Ganon). After spending 13 months in space, Molly returns pregnant. Half-human, half-alien, the baby is removed from Molly’s body and incubated in a secret facility ran by the Yasumoto Corporation, which also happens to be John’s employer. Molly’s friend and colleague, Alan Sparks (Michael O’Neil), is in charge of the project.

This week, Sparks escapes the facility with the hybrid (known as the Offspring) and goes to an isolated resort where he can be alone with the visions of his deceased daughter the Offspring shows him. He calls his ex-wife to join him in the reunion. In order to maintain enough energy to produce it’s illusions, the Offspring must feed on humans (calling to mind Defiance’s Irisa and Atlantis’s wraith). The people survive the feeding in order to do Alan’s bidding.  Meanwhile, John and Ethan are essentially held captive by Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) at his house along with Odin (Charlie Bewley), a member of an anti-humanichs group, pretending to be interested in John’s assistant, Julie (Grace Gummer). In a third sub-plot, Molly is handcuffed inside a truck by one of Yasumoto’s men who supposedly wants to help her find, raise and protect the Offspring.

Are you confused yet? I can’t say as I was, but it is an awful lot to take in, the net result being that I have a lot of questions.

[Tweet “#Extant asks more questions than it answers, which is an awful lot to take in.”]

Alan is a die hard professional, determined to see the project proceeds in a by-the-books manner. In this episode, his character moves to the opposite extreme. He is now a devoted father, determined to spend as much time as he can with a facsimile of his daughter, which–on some level–he knows is an illusion produced by the Offspring. Nevertheless, he does his level best to protect her. He feeds the Offspring, not for the creature, but to maintain the illusion of his daughter. Alan is a scientist. Why does he fall so easily for something he knows is in the domain of the heart and not of the head?

Molly is a smart woman. She goes to space hoping absence will make her heart grow fonder for her husband. She knows Alan is working against her even when he insists he’s on her side. She figures out why friend Sam (Camryn Manheim) turns against her and uses Sam’s predicament to work in her favour. Why is she so quick to believe the  ruse Yasumoto’s man portrays about putting all of his employer’s resources at her fingertips once they recover the Offspring?

Ethan is part android, part child. He is inquisitive like a child, but shows incredible logical and analytical deduction ability. Why is he so quick to believe Odin’s bologna  about parents not being trustworthy and shun John as a result? Every character–and I mean EVERY–is a scientist. Why is someone like Odin able to outsmart them all?

My last question deals with the focus of the show. Why can’t Extant decide which sub-genre of science fiction it wants to be? Rather than decide, it tries to be all sub-genres at once. This week alone, Extant covered the following sub-genres: parasitic infestation; vampires; androids; paranormal investigation; mind control and conspiracy theory. And I’m probably missing a few more. I really like Extant. In addition to having two of my favourite actors (Visnjic and Manheim), Extant is refreshing for it’s focus on future families striving to stay together in spite of the perils that threaten to tear it apart, rather than on sci-fi elements alone.

As of this week, I can no longer say that about Extant.

Extant taken on too much? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

[Tweet “Has #Extant taken on too much? Extant casts wide net, comes up empty.”]