AI And Writing: Time For Writers To Upskill To A New World?

Spooky. If you’ve been hoping that AI would just go away and leave you to write in peace, recent news stories suggest that it might be time to pay attention. And upskill.

I’m not suggesting that you use ChatGPT or a similar generative text AI tool to do your writing for you. If you’re a professional writer, you know better, because the threat of AI copyright infringement is real.

Upwork is taking this threat seriously. From ‘I’ve Never Hired A Writer Better Than ChatGPT’: How AI Is Upending The Freelance World:

“Any use of generative artificial intelligence by users of our work marketplace may lead to additional claims of intellectual property infringement,” Upwork’s annual report reads.

You should take copyright infringement seriously too. Heaven knows how it will all shake out.

Please be aware of how apps like ChatGPT work… They’re not “intelligent”.

What is generative AI? How do apps like ChatGPT work?

ChatGPT and similar AI text generative tools are developed using language models to create responses. Huge datasets provide material for the models, by scraping content from the web, forums, Reddit, Wikipedia, and many additional sources—including books.

If you want to know more, this ZDNet article on how ChatGPT works gives you the gist.

AI text generative bots offer responses to questions that seem “real”, even though they’re bland and generic; they’re pulling information from the datasets.

Since the content in the datasets is scraped (copied), this is where copyright infringement concerns arise.

That said, and keeping copyright concerns in mind, writers need to pay attention; recent news stories make this plain.

Many freelance writers are already using ChatGPT secretly, passing off the content as their own, rather than disclosing they’ve had help.

If you’re using ChatGPT or similar, disclose it

As stated, please don’t rely on AI to write for you, not only because of copyright concerns but also because the tools aren’t writing at all, they’re copying. If you read the Forbes article to which I linked above, you’ll see that many “writers” aren’t disclosing what they’re doing.

Do disclose if you’re using AI-generated materials in any way for published work. You can use them privately, of course, for research, creating summaries, and more.

Trying to pass off ChatGPT text as your own opens you to transaction disputes (people will want their money back if they hire you) as well as to the potential for lawsuits, down the road.

That said, the tools exist. People who hire writers are using them. According to news stories, they’re also hiring writers familiar with them.

AI news for writers: grab a shovel, the AI gold rush is upon us

Wishing AI away is pointless; Pandora’s box has been opened. To thoroughly mix metaphors: if there’s an AI gold rush, grab a shovel.

An article on Vice, Writers Are Becoming ‘AI Prompt Engineers,’ a Job Which May or May Not Exist, reports:

For some copywriters, content marketers, and freelance writers, the solution has been to reinvent themselves as “prompt engineers,”…

A good idea? Maybe. If you’ve used ChatGPT, you know that it’s GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) all over again. You need to know how to “talk” to the app to get the results you want.

The Vice article also reports:

Some job offerings now claim to pay as much as $335,000 and don’t require that applicants have a tech background—several times higher than the average freelance copywriter salary in the United States, which is $55,238.

If you’re a writer who’s willing to practice and hone their prompting skills, prompt creation is a valuable attribute: people will pay you for it.

Another article, Have ChatGPT skills? 9 in 10 companies hiring want you, survey finds, reports:

Earlier this month, surveyed more than 1,000 business leaders and found that 92% are currently hiring and of those who are currently hiring, 91% want workers with ChatGPT experience.

ChatGPT and AI tools are a huge growth area. No one will stop using the tools, that’s obvious. So, is it time for writers to upskill?

If you’re a writer, is it time to upskill?

Surely. I’m working on a free newsletter for freelance writers, authors, and creators. Although we’ll cover useful topics in general, we’ll also dig into what the rise of AI means for us.

The topic intrigues me. If you’re looking for ways to make AI work for you, I hope the newsletter will help—it’s coming soon.