You realize that Editor-AI is just getting started

A few years ago, I predicted the emergence of an AI with the power to examine and grade written work. Well, we are almost there.

I, along with hundreds of thousands of others, am fascinated by the latest AI linguistic tool: ChatGPT. And for good reason. The more I read, the more amazed I am at how writers are using this tool. It’s expanding every day. Yes, writers are using it. And yes, some are even allowing its artificially generated text to join or even replace their own. But that’s just the controversial part. Before that, we can ask ChatGPT to proofread. I tried it out, and sure enough, I got back cleaned narrative that only needed slight touch-ups (it tended to be formal with “he said”s and “she replied”s, with dialog tags before or after every bit of conversation).

Additionally, and this is still iffy in my book, but I took bits of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and asked ChatGPT to rewrite it in the style of Hemingway, then Stephen King, and then Dr. Seuss. And it did it.

There are some challenges to the amount of text you can proofread or transform, and no doubt we’ll soon have to start paying for this privilege. But wow, the ability to upload an entire manuscript to have it proofread, checked for logic, tense consistency, POV head-hopping, and even “graded” will soon be a thing.

I can’t wait.

~~~

The above was actually proofread and corrected by ChatGPT!

Here’s one example of transforming Charles Dickens to Hemingway

~~~

Charles Dickens:

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’s-book, went home to bed. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again. It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms being all let out as offices. The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.

Ernest Hemingway:

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern, and after reading all the newspapers and poring over his banker’s book, he went home to bed. He lived in chambers that had once belonged to his deceased partner, a gloomy suite of rooms in a lowering building that seemed out of place in the yard it occupied. It was so old and dreary that Scrooge was the only one who lived there, the other rooms having been rented out as offices. The yard was so dark that Scrooge, who knew every stone by heart, had to grope his way around with his hands. The fog and frost clung so heavily to the black old gate of the house that it seemed as if the spirit of the weather was sitting in mournful meditation on the threshold.

CD:

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact, that Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London, even including—which is a bold word—the corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley, since his last mention of his seven years’ dead partner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change—not a knocker, but Marley’s face.

EH:

It’s a fact that there was nothing particularly noteworthy about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It’s also a fact that Scrooge had seen it every day and night during his entire time living there. And Scrooge had as little imagination as any man in London, not even counting the corporation, aldermen, or livery. It should also be noted that Scrooge hadn’t given Marley a single thought since mentioning his deceased partner that afternoon. So how did it happen that when Scrooge had his key in the lock of the door, he saw in the knocker, without any intermediate process of change, not a knocker but Marley’s face?

CD:

Marley’s face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression.

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

EH:

Marley’s face. It was not shrouded in impenetrable shadow like the other objects in the yard, but had a dismal light around it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge the way Marley used to, with ghostly spectacles perched on its ghostly forehead. The hair was oddly stirred, as if by a breath or hot air, and though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly still. That, combined with its livid color, made it horrible, but the horror seemed to be beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression.

As Scrooge stared fixedly at this phenomenon, it became a knocker again.

 


23 thoughts on “You realize that Editor-AI is just getting started

  1. A former colleague of mine posted that he caught a student cheating using AI. He said this: “Caught my first grade 12 student using an AI to cheat on a Hamlet unit test. I gave my class nine questions to prepare study notes for. Six of these questions were on the test. The student typed in questions into the AI and then “cut/paste” AI answers into Google forms test. Chatbot detector caught it.” AI cheating caught by AI. Of course, the biggest issue is anyone still teaching Hamlet and giving unit tests that are that easy to cheat on!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The most telling part of this epistle?
    “I can’t wait.”
    None of them have yet come close to recognizing the ability to follow one good sentence with another or turn misshapen content into other than grammatically correct misshapen content. How do I know this? The Doc betas all that junk.

    A Frenchman compiled all the literary tropes in the 1800s. Not real work because the Greeks had already done it. Before the Frenchman a group of French Women did the same for “Fairy Tales” and/or Fables. We’ve been re-writing Chaucer for almost 800 years. Plotto has been around since the early 20th Century. PWA will chastise any “great” author, as well as those of us who are far more meaningless. Take the modern rule against “passive” verbs. Then look at how many current and historic models toss that out the windows. Feed this chat bot the news and ask it to be Dickens. See if it gives you “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Or against adverbs with an ensemble cast and see if it writes you the first page of “Little Women.” Generative is one thing. Beauty is another. According to the Rhetoric and Linguistic PhD even the grading is crap because it can’t differentiate and interpret the intent, content and grammar for a content specific article nor tell if it followed the rules of comparison and contrast or argument. Here’s the kicker. What it knows is what’s been done. I wonder how it fares against a plagiarism checker.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t doubt that we’re all eventually screwed. But life will get more convenient for a lot of us first in things like not having to pay for proofreading and copyediting.

    In terms of composing itself, I’m still not sure about it matching human creativity anytime soon. But casual readers may not care as much as we’d like.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. More than anything, in my opinion, these signs highlight the fact that we need to raise awareness in how, and to what extent, we allow AI to infiltrate our lives.
      Maybe folks like Robert Miles (the AI safety guy) will start to get their voices heard.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You know, I’m starting to get REALLY depressed with this shit. You’re wearing me down. Anyways, do you have a before/after of your own post that was proofread?

    I can’t say I’m terribly impressed by the changes the AI made to Charles Dickens’ work. At first glance it seems clever, but when you compare carefully, there are subtle connotations in Dickens’ words that are lost in the so-called transformation.

    “It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge”

    is different from

    “It was so old and dreary that Scrooge was the only one who lived there”.

    Or:

    “Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London, even including—which is a bold word—the corporation, aldermen, and livery.”

    versus:

    “Scrooge had as little imagination as any man in London, not even counting the corporation, aldermen, or livery.”

    Fancy connotes something different from imagination, and when he says that including is a bold word, he’s implying something about the other men that’s not implied in the EH version.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clip art is bullshit. E-editors are only as good as the creators’ ability to argue with them. They can only report and suggest, generally on the wooden side. They have no idea whether this bit needs to go up three lines and this one needs to go away. Liked your take on descriptive language. I’m a big fan of a word’s weight. Fancy is to imagination as grimy is to dirty. Dingy to dark. Filth to clutter. Which is why we get a page and half from some authors who desire us to experience a filthy kitchen by bits and pieces instead of saying “filthy kitchen” and getting on with it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I really hope you’re right. But reading comprehension has so declined (despite an increase in literacy) that I wonder if these distinctions won’t even matter if people can’t identify the differences in meaning.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. All very good points of the I-wish-I-said-that variety. Visual AI art is no different in essence than a Spirograph creation you taped onto the refrigerator door so your Kindergartner could feel good. And words do have weight, and a flavor, and just like musical notes, can change meaning and nuance depending on what is around them. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
        It could be an interesting year.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I didn’t save the original post (the changes were slight, but useful, clearing up some AWKs.
      This AI eventuality is more a chime at dawn, a signal that such times are coming, and we should prepare ourselves. Taking advantage, early on, would be wise.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I take that to mean you’re going to buy Pro Writing Aid, and go through your (creative) stuff a line at a time for timing, placement, and continuity? No more oh look we’re gathering fruit or flowers or harbingers of doom in a basket we didn’t leave home with?

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I’d have mentioned that but from outward appearances eradication of ‘Happy” from one’s vocabulary is a prerequisite of Mole’s Gloom and Doom Life’s a Shit Show Manifesto. So Happy Gnu Year! You ever so thicker skin and stop letting your inner softie show you’ll write like you mean it and stop looking for the easy way out. Stories are everywhere. Editing is a bitch.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. MIDI is 40. At least to those of us who were there. 39 if plugging it in to another manufacturer’s gear and watching it work counts. A simple idea that revolutionized the way electronic musical instruments and peripherals communicated. It’s still at Rev 1. X. Something the inventor, who passed late ‘22, never failed to mention.

                Liked by 1 person

      2. Certainly this has stimulated a dialog, here, and there are a lot of red flags, a lot of buttons being pushed, a lot of sorting out of the fear of the slippery slope from the utility of a new technology. Really, my one and only objection would be if we leave our humanity by the wayside. I keep saying this: why would I want to read something (or look at something) that was not created by another human being, other than for some utilitarian purpose. I also say it won’t be long–it’s actually already happening–before the “corporate world” begins to use this to eliminate human employees, and then settle for an inferior alternative. It’s nothing new–I submit the automated business “call tree” as proof that companies don’t actually think your call is THAT important.
        I like the “chime at dawn.” I’m already trying to heighten my awareness of the difference between human language and computer generated pseudo sentences.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s