In a Forbes article, one writer/editor mused that millions of writers could be jobless. I laughed because most writers are nearly, constantly jobless. Even with my regular gigs, I often feel quite jobless as compared to my husband and those with regular jobs. Writing is not the path to riches. My regular gigs keep the lights on; but I am always chasing something on the side to keep the heat on.
The threat from Chat GPT is nothing most writers haven't faced before. How often I am told "anyone can write," or scoffed at when I give my hourly rate. Yes, anyone can write. But it takes a writer to write the good stuff--the stuff you want to read. It takes a professional to write the great stuff that people want to share or inspires them to give or donate. It takes integrity, research and knowledge to write the truth.
The truth isn't always the facts--the truth is a combination of the facts with the perspective of those facts have been experienced in the real world. Like if I tell you that I had a bad day yesterday because my Microsoft Teams app wasn't working that would be truth. The fact is the app not working; the perspective is in my experience of a bad day. And if I told you that the experience of Lily's cancer diagnosis is like salt and pepper--good and bad all mixed up--you'd get it when I explained the horror of cancer juxtaposed with the beauty of the human spirit. I don't think a non-human could understand those nuances.
While I think AI and Chat GPT have some great applications, I am not sure they will ever be able to tell the nuanced, robust human truth. I think they will try; but it's hard to capture all the nuances and experiences and deep feelings locked away in a writer's mind. And in the end, readers want to tap into those deep feelings--even on a simple level--to make a human connection.
But, all of this being said, of course, I am a little freaked out. A robot might take my job! So, I decided to see what that potential job stealing harlot of a robot could do. So, I asked Chat GPT to write my biography--the biography of writer Trish Adkins from Haddon Township, NJ.
And you know what friends, Chat GPT is a liar, but also super flattering. I mean who could say anything but "Thank you" when a robot tells you that you are "a true inspiration and a shining example of the power of storytelling to bring people together and make a difference in the world."
I mean, go ahead robot, take everything! Just keep talking sweet to me.
Anyway, flattery aside, with each generation of my biography, Chat GPT bold-faced lied to me (similar to my son when I ask him who dumped out the sugar all over the basement). Each generation got my education wrong (Villanova, St. Joes, Rutgers, Rowan, but no mention of my beloved Temple University or my very fancy and upcoming Johns Hopkins University). Once, it told me I was born in 1982 (okay this is WONDERFUL NEWS and might be my new birth year, but it is still a lie). Another time, it made me sound like I was a complete lunatic who made up "imaginary worlds to escape my childhood." (HELLO! Life in the Carrington house was an imaginary world!) Once it said I wrote a piece for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia blog called "The Power of Play," about the ability of play to transform children who have experienced trauma.
They did say I wrote a memoir and I might steal the title and premise because I don't have anything else( Her book, "A Warrior's Soul: How a Mother's Courage Helped Her Daughter Recover from Cancer," tells the story of her daughter's battle with cancer and the impact it had on their family.)
Anyway, my bio all sounds great; but it is all lies. For fun, I am going to share the first generation of my Chat GPT biography, with my commentary (similar to VH-1 pop up videos from back when I was very very very young, since I was born in 1982, not like 5 years earlier):
Trish Adkins is an accomplished writer and storyteller from Haddon Township, New Jersey. She was born and raised in the area and has always had a passion for writing and sharing stories. (Tiny white lie: I was not born and raised in Jersey. And Also, I've always had a passion for gummy bears. Writing came later)
Trish attended Rowan University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Writing. During her time at Rowan, Trish honed her writing skills and became deeply interested in using storytelling as a way to connect with others. (TEMPLE TEMPLE TEMPLE. And I wasn't allowed to major in English, as my father said he was not paying for me to be unemployed and I majored in Journalism and I am now just underemployed.)
After graduating from college, Trish worked as a journalist for several years, covering local news and events for various publications in the Philadelphia area. She also began writing personal essays and creative nonfiction pieces, which have been published in a variety of online and print publications.(I was never a journalist, despite my journalism degree.)
In 2014, Trish's life took an unexpected turn when her daughter, Hazel, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer. Throughout Hazel's treatment and recovery, Trish used writing as a way to process her emotions and share her family's journey with others. She created a blog, "Hazel's Heroes," which quickly gained a following and became a source of inspiration for families facing similar challenges.(WHO THE HELL IS HAZEL? Also, do I have a 4th child I misplaced in 2014? LIES)
Trish has since become a passionate advocate for childhood cancer research and awareness, using her writing and storytelling skills to raise awareness and funds for the cause. She has spoken at numerous conferences and events, sharing her family's story and encouraging others to get involved in the fight against childhood cancer. (okay this is the truth!)
In addition to her advocacy work, Trish continues to write and publish personal essays and creative nonfiction pieces. She is currently working on a memoir about her family's experience with childhood cancer, which she hopes will inspire and connect with readers around the world. (sort of the truth!)
Trish Adkins is a talented writer and storyteller whose work has touched the hearts of many. She is a true inspiration and a shining example of the power of storytelling to bring people together and make a difference in the world. (I mean OF COURSE THIS IS ALL TRUE I TOUCH HEARTS!)
In the end, I enjoy how Chat GPT sees me as a delightful, helpful, inspiring, talented journalist who is changing the world. I do worry about poor little Hazel and I really hope someday, Chat GPT tells the truth that I am Temple Owl and JHU Blue Jay and have a passion for gummy bears.