The AI experiment

If you read my last post on AI and writing, I briefly mentioned that I would be trying to experiment with AI story generation using the stump of an abandoned story. The abandoned story in question is called “Through the Door (part 1),” which was posted about 10 years ago as a response to a prompt (that’s the very first line in that post). I wrote that in about 15 minutes without any preplanning or plotting, so it is close to a spontaneous storyline. I had no idea where the story was going and was consumed by events, and I didn’t want to spend the time to do so. Regardless, I think this story stump will be perfect for the experiment.

How this is going to work is as follows. Every week I’m going to take the story and let SudoWrite add on a chunk to the storyline. I’ll post that content. But, to avoid having the storyline spin off into some weird, tangential, circular, or contradictory territory, I’m going to massage the content into something I can use as the basis for the next iteration of AI generation. I’ll also post that content containing some analysis/commentary of what was generated and why I chose to change it.

How long am I going to try this? Don’t really know at this point. It might be short-lived, a few weeks or so, or perhaps months. I’ll probably stop if it gets beyond 15000 words since I believe that is the AI’s limit. Of course, since this is technology-dependent, expect some failures to creep in and potentially gum up the process. Always have plan B handy when your technology-dependent plan A decides to crap the bed.

That said, the first installment of unmodified AI-generated content extends the original story, conveniently titled “Through the Door (part 2) – AI version.”

Through the Door (part 2) – AI version

Based on the story stump, what follows was generated by the AI (courtesy Sudowrite).

ALTERNATE 1

Rhinna crossed her arms and her eyes narrowed. “I see. And you came here to meet him–or was it for this man? Did you seek to find him and follow him here?”

“I came here for Dathon, and did not know of this man,” Arianna said softly. “I am a stranger here, and I have no idea what he is to me.”

“The man you are looking for is dangerous. He comes from a world of darkness, one of deceit and trickery.” Rhinna paused in deliberation before continuing.

“The man you seek is able to make himself appear in places he is not. If you do not know him, then he can only be an enemy.”

“How do you know this?” Arianna demanded.

“It is what he does. He steals the knowledge of events and passes them to his master.”

Arianna was surprised.

ALTERNATE 2

“Your husband?” Rhinna spat the words out in disgust.

She knows of Dathon too, but how? “I don’t understand how he could be your husband, since you are my sister, but how do you know him?”

“He and his kind are the ones that killed my family.”

“Killed your family?” Arianna stammered. “How?”

“He and the others came to our village, killed everyone then burned it to the ground.”

“Why would he do a thing like that?”

“We wouldn’t do as they bid, even after they set the tree ablaze.”

“What tree?”

“The Aldwater Tree, what else?”

Aldwater Tree? Arianna felt like she was trapped in one of the book’s own stories.

 “What is the Aldwater Tree?”

“It is where we came from, where we are to go back to.

ALTERNATE 3

“Husband? I did not know you were married. But…” she couldn’t seem to finish her sentence. A strange expression crossed her weathered face.

“He left me,” Arianna said, her tears welling up. “I was upset… down at the lake. I was walking by the water, when suddenly I fell into it. And then I found this book… it led me here. And now I can’t go back.” She held up the book, “I don’t know where the door is; it was here before.”

“Yes, the book. It leads to the Kingdom of Aldewater. But it is not of this world. And it is dangerous. Many have vanished into its pages after reading its stories.”

“I am stuck here?”  Arianna asked, her eyes wide. “So how do I get back?”

“I can take you to

ANALYSIS

Interesting takes. I chose to continue the scene rather than start a new one. You can specify which (new scene or continuation) where you put the cursor in your text. The other aspect is that Sudowrite presents several possibilities for you to choose from. I decided to list all three options offered by the software because none provided a completely acceptable continuation (at least in my opinion). That said, I reserve the right to pick and choose the ideas presented to fashion a coherent storyline.

A couple of notes: I did not alter the AI content in any way, including grammar or spelling, as I wanted to preserve the fidelity of the content. Also, the AI chose to end midsentence. That is not a mistake on my part.

Stay tuned for a consolidated version of this storyline continuation in my next post. For the small group of folks that actually read my blog, feel free to weigh in on this if you want. This isn’t quite a “choose your own adventure” effort, but suggestions are always appreciated.

It’s Artificial, but is it Intelligent?

The current rage “du jour” for writing is the emergence of AI (“artificial intelligence”) as a tool for writers and automated systems to create written content that blurs the line between what is human and what is not. That may not be the intent, but we’re headed toward a future where what you read and what you see (in the media – news, movies, etc.) is created by automated agents.

The basic premise is that systems are now to the point where they can “understand” input queries in a “human-like” manner and, using a locus of embedded (or fed-in) information, produce a response that is also “human-like” in terms of language usage and syntax. This has implications far beyond the initial intentions of the effort (to facilitate helpful automated responses) toward school-age kids hopping into a browser and, in 30 seconds, getting a relatively decent essay about the Declaration of Independence.  

Beyond a world where no one (school-age or not) needs to put any real thought into creating crappy first drafts, the implications for writers are only beginning to reveal themselves. To that end, I will be doing my own experiment with AI technology, specifically a resource called Sudowrite.com, which you can try for free on the aforementioned website (https://www.sudowrite.com/ ). In particular, I’m curious to try out its “wormhole” capability, wherein it takes the gist of what you have written and “extends” it through the dynamic generation of content. The basic idea is that you’re puttering along with a story (apparently not plotted out, it seems), then you hit the wall of (mythical) “writer’s block,” so all you have to do is tell the AI to continue the story, and voila, your story’s plotline is extended over and beyond your mental pothole. More on that later.

If you want to follow up in detail on what I’m talking about, I suggest checking out some websites on the subject. They go farther into depth than I could, a lowly writer and IT specialist.

Look at OpenAI, the organization behind ChatGPT, to get an overview of effort:

https://openai.com/

This Washington Post article (warning: paywall) is an excellent starting point, discussing Chatgpt and dialog systems.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/12/06/what-is-chatgpt-ai/

If you’re not fond of paywalled content, or you have used up your free articles, check out CNET – Why Everyone’s Obsessed with ChatGPT, a Mind-Blowing AI Chatbot

https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/why-everyones-obsessed-with-chatgpt-a-mind-blowing-ai-chatbot/

Lastly, look at this article from the Guardian, and implications for academia. It boggles the mind:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/dec/04/ai-bot-chatgpt-stuns-academics-with-essay-writing-skills-and-usability