Dead Poets Society

It's an open secret that generative AI is terrible at coming up with original and creative writing.

In many ways, that's to be expected, given its inherent nature — machine learning systems typically churn through the internet and remix what they've gobbled up, often in nonsensical or uninspiring ways.

To remedy the situation, some of Silicon Valley's biggest AI companies are now resorting to hiring poets and writers with humanity degrees, Rest of World reports, which is an ironic twist, considering publishers have been laying off writers and editors while making big investments in generative AI.

Unsurprisingly, the goal is to feed their work straight into the maw of AI models to boost the quality of their output, a depressing new reality for those trying to make a career in writing.

Et Tu, BrutAI

Experts suggest companies such as Scale AI and Appen, both hiring for such roles, may be trying to differentiate themselves from competitors with more creatively competent systems, rather than those that just tell the same dad jokes over and over.

Companies are also looking to specifically boost the skills of their AI models in languages other than English. Some job listings call for fiction writers specializing in Hindi or Japanese.

"The first company advantage in this space is incredibly big," Dan Brown, a professor at the University of Waterloo, told Rest of World. "If there are countries and languages for which companies are failing and somebody can come in and snap those spaces up, it’s an opportunity for them to wrap up the market before any new players can come in."

Seemingly preempting persistent concerns over AI replacing the need for human writers, a spokesperson for Scale AI told the publication that "our work has and always will include humans in the loop as it’s critical for developing responsible, safe, and accurate AI."

But whether paying fiction writers to feed AI models with prose will boost these algorithms' creative sides remains unclear at best.

"They are trained to reproduce," Fabricio Goes, informatics lecturer at the University of Leicester, told Rest of World. "So, by design, many people argue that those systems are not creative."

So why are they hiring creatives at all? Some experts argue it may be a way to own the full rights to creative writing instead of making themselves vulnerable to infringing copyright — something that has already resulted in a number of lawsuits, filed by authors against ChatGPT creator OpenAI.

More on writers and AI: Sean Penn Says Replacing Writers with AI Would Be a "Human Obscenity"

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