AI reading, as envisaged by Midjourney

A quick AI reader

Three insightful pieces of AI reading to finish off your week right.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

We're going through one of those stages where you can't turn around without someone writing a think piece, hosting a panel, or running a conference on an emerging tech. And the heart of that is, inevitably, Generative AI.

Yes, it's a transformative technology. And yes, we should be thinking about it. But, despite some of the breathless coverage in recent months, it isn't brand new. Some people were experimenting with generative machine learning models long before it became accessible to everybody and their dog.

It's not all about replacing humans

I agree very strongly with this take:

I think that there are some bad actors who see huge economic gains because they think, wrongly, that they can put out a product that is good enough that people will pay for … wholly automated news. I don’t believe that that’s a viable product. I’m not even saying “Is it a moral or ethical product?” I just don’t think that you can put out a good enough product that people will be satisfied with it.

Too many publishers, who have just been dying to replace those awkward journalists, are jumping on the “machine-written stories” bandwagon — and it's not working well.

Gilbert, who is quoted above, has some more interesting insights about how we could deploy it useful in journalism.

‘Generative AI doesn’t require us to reimagine journalism, but it gives us a really good excuse’ - Poynter
Jeremy Gilbert, the Knight Chair for Digital Media Strategy at Northwestern, shares his thoughts on the future of AI in journalism in a Q&A

AI: creative, or a prompt for creativity?

A deeply engrossing long-ish read from WIRED, written by an author whose AI co-written story went viral:

I tried again and again. Each time, I deleted the AI’s text and added to what I’d written before, asking GPT-3 to pick up the thread later in the story. At first it kept failing. And then, on the fourth or fifth attempt, something shifted. The AI began describing grief in language that felt truer—and with each subsequent attempt, it got closer to describing what I’d gone through myself.

There's a degree of creative tension in what she does, working both with and against the AI to produce a result that — just possibly — is better than either could come up with on their own.

Confessions of a Viral AI Writer
Despite my success with AI-generated stories, I’m not sure they are good for writers—or writing itself.

Building your skills with AI

These are my notes from a session at NEXT Conference in Hamburg a week ago, where musician Harry Yeff talked about how he's used AI in a form of creative opposition. By creating a digital replica of his voice, and duetting with it, he forced himself to become a better performer to outclass the AI.

And then he figured out how to us an AI as a mentor — for a dance company.


Harry Yeff: building the digital Second Self
Can AI be a creative assistant, mentor and even opponent? Harry Yeff thinks so, and he wants us to embrace a narrative of hope.

Have a good, AI-free weekend, folks.


Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.