I haven’t posted about this before now for a few reasons. For one thing, I’m a working writer, and I’m busy and, frankly, this should all go without saying. Furthermore, I don’t want to talk or think about it because it annoys the fuck out of me but, unfortunately, I have the think about it, and it’s irresponsible not to talk about it. So, I’ll try to keep this brief:
I support the WGA strike. That’s the first part that should go without saying. Writers are workers, and workers deserve to be compensated extravagantly for the work they produce, let alone fairly. The fact that we have arguments about how much someone is entitled to when they literally produced all the work is fucking absurd. The strike should go on as long as possible, it should be joined by everyone affected, and the studios should fuck off into the sun. If there are no new movies or TV shows made for the next five years, that’s great, we already have plenty, and if the result nets a life that is even one iota better for the people who are actually making these things, then it will have been more than worth it.
But that’s only part of it. Partly due to timing, the discussions around the WGA strike have also become discussions around AI art and writing. And I need to be as clear as possible on this subject: So-called “AI art” (or writing, or any other creative endeavor) is bullshit. It is a misnomer, where the only accurate part is “artificial.” It has no intelligence, and even less art. What’s more, it is anathema not merely to art and writing itself, but to everything that makes life even moderately bearable. I don’t have much in the way of religion, but if I did, this “AI art” garbage would be one of its few blasphemies.
What’s more, while calling it “art” is crap, calling it “AI” is, too. I’m not an expert in software or “machine learning” or any of that, but I know this: There is no sapience here. There are no cool machine overlords coming down the road. There is nothing here but exploitation. These machine learning algorithms can do only and precisely what they are told, and when it comes to creative pursuits such as art or writing, they can do it only through one methodology: stealing. They are not AI, and they are not “creating” anything. They are advanced plagiarism engines, and that is all that they can produce.
By the same token, these algorithms are neither threat nor salvation. They are, as their proponents so often like to point out, only tools. But they are not being wielded by those proponents, not truly. Rather than evil robotic overlords, they are being deployed by the same evil overlords we have always had: corporate greed. Their one and only goal is to steal from writers and artists without paying them in either money or dignity. These engines run on exploitation, and produce nothing – literally nothing – but more exploitation.
Damn them, curse them, scorn them, and let them fuck off into the sun with the studios and corporations I mentioned earlier, who are the only people they will ever “benefit.” We will all be far better off without them.