3 Considerations When Using Artificial Intelligence To Help With Your Writing
With the rise of ChatGPT and other AI services, there are three considerations to think about when using AI to help with your writing.
By JOSH DO
Here, at The Admission Angle, we are constantly keeping up to date with the landscape of education, technology, and the intersection of the two. ChatGPT, and the rise of other artificial intelligence, is having its moment and rise. In this article, there will be three aspects to take into consideration if you are thinking about using it to help with your writing.
The 3 Considerations
I asked ChatGPT to give me a backstory for a protagonist who wants to get into college, and this is part of the backstory that it gave me:
It lacks the nuance needed to make a character compelling. What are Anna’s flaws? What does she do that is morally wrong? And what about her small town makes it unique from other small towns? When you sign up to use ChatGPT, it tells you that it can’t be used to ask controversial subjects; so the fiction that the software creates will inherently be lacking some realities of life.
This backstory doesn’t have the specificity that makes a character memorable, and as you’ll see in the rest of this article, specificity is something that AI can’t do well yet. And that makes sense, ChatGPT is like an epic google search engine, it compiles information from across thousands of databases, and has to summarize that information that is digestible for you.
I asked the bot to write me a diversity essay, a type of essay you may find when applying for college, and this was the opening paragraph:
As a writing teacher, I would tell a student who turned in this essay that their opening paragraph was syntactically correct; but there is nothing of substance that hooks me to want to continue reading. And when you are writing essays, especially essays for college admission people, you want them to feel invested in what you have to say.
This opening paragraph, along with most of the essay, lacks anything that would make this person unique or stand out. The paragraph is filled with generalities: “component of our society,” “as an individual,” “multicultural environment,” and “all aspects of life.”
When writing these essays, you want to portray who you are, and the only way to do that is to not speak in generalities. You should aim to be specific to your own experiences and not speak in vague sentences.
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I asked the bot to write me a love sonnet:
As of now, artificial intelligence still can’t effectively develop its own voice when producing creative writing. In my time on the website, there wasn’t a lot of memorable stories, poetry, or even essays. As a university professor, this sonnet reminds me of something I would receive in the first round of poems for a writing workshop– fine mechanics, but no voice.
In this sonnet created by AI, the theme of love is talked about using traditional sonnet form: iambic pentameter, Shakespearean rhyme scheme, and a Shakespearean sonnet form. The problem is that the poem sounds dated, the rhyming words sound forced, and the idea of love is talked about in cliched poetic moves. There is not enough specificity that marks this sonnet different from the other AI-generated sonnets, and as a poetry editor for a journal, this sonnet wouldn’t be that interesting to me.
This particular sonnet lacks a specific voice. And your specific voice can only come from your specific writing style, background, life influences, and personal feelings. As individual people, without the ability to scour millions of databases for information, we are limited to what we know, and that’s okay. That is what allows us to have our own unique voice and perspective on subject matters.
In my opinion, I could see us using ChatGPT, and other AI services, as another tool to help us gain a starting point to our projects. Just like how it’s becoming more acceptable for people to use Wikipedia as a starting point to their research, these AI services can give us initial building blocks for us to craft our learning. Going back to the sonnet example, you could use the service to understand the mechanics of the Shakespearean sonnet, but then you don’t just stop there, you use the rules you learn to create your own unique, original sonnet.
As of right now, AI can produce simple works of writing, but it still can’t create unique voices in each output. You can use ChatGPT as a learning tool to learn foundational starting blocks, to learn quick facts, and to see simple examples, but it can’t write something that is supposed to be unique to you, that’s something only you can do.