AI Writing vs Traditional Writing: DPF Founder’s Take on the Future of Literature

In March 2024, I was startled by a friend, who shared a certain screenshot of a poem penned by a very acclaimed writer, pointing out that it has been penend usign ChatGPT.  She had ample evidence, but even the writer had evidence enough to counter her claims. Who out of the two was right? The topic of discussion today with eminent writer and Founder of the Delhi Poetry Festival, Dolly Singh is to dig down into the captivating world of CREATIVE WRITING which is fast changing in the age of AI and Digital Media Influences & Influencers who are leaving no stoned unturned to leverage AI to their acclaim. In this exclusive interview at Visionary Voices we intend to explore the evolving landscape of content creation, from the perspective of a traditional writer, grappling with the rise of artificial intelligence. How does one identify as a publisher or event organiser, which one is a deserving candidate amid the rising wave of AI writers? How to ensure ethical considerations, and what would be the future of authorship and literature?

Mahima: How do you personally perceive the increasing role of AI in content creation, and what challenges does it pose to traditional writing processes?

Dolly Singh: As a traditional writer and a poet, I do not favour the rampant use of AI to generate content.  I believe writing, particularly fiction, poetry and social content should be warm, and have life throbbing in it. Of late, the use of AI to help write articles, fiction novels or poetry is on a rise. The lure of fame by the virtue of being a writer draws a new writer, or a non-writer to AI.

Traditional writers take their time to finish their projects, because they research, write, craft and chisel. It’s like cooking on low fire so that the creative juices remain intact. Whereas AI-supported projects are akin to microwave-cooking. Fast but tasteless.

Because the AI content is mass produced, with too many new writers in the fray, the traditional writers sometimes lose visibility in the literary space.  Traditional writing processes take time, research and hard work. There is no doubt that the threat of mass produced, AI-created writings is real. Novice writers, loosely translated as wannabe writers, with the help of social media promotions, circle of influence and money, soon become bestselling authors.

Mahima: Since last two years several books are coming in the market very fast, because these are written by ChatGPT. There are training programs also to produce Authors in bulk. What’s your take on this new trend? 

Dolly Singh: Like I said earlier, new writers are mushrooming and taking up all space and visibility, leaving little or none for actual writers. I personally think it is a gross injustice to the traditional writers who spend a lifetime in chiselling their craft. But then it can’t be helped. For many, ChatGPT is a boon, or a lifesaving device. Ideas, plots, Grammar and vocabulary are all taken care of. When an AI tool replaces your brain to give shape to your creativity, then never again will your rusty brain be able to produce ideas without its help. The training programs to help ‘produce’ books written by ChatGPT is again a commercial activity with no serious intent to promote literature.

Mahima: Coming to Authorship Ethics – with AI capable of generating content, what ethical considerations should be in place by literary agents so that the originality of sans-AI authors, the charm of authentic content doesn’t take a beating?

Dolly Singh: Unfortunately, the literary space today, is pervaded with commercial publishers with the intent to mass produce new authors. So, if one literary agent is taking one book by AI supported author and the other by a traditional author, it will be unfair to pitch both the books to the same publisher at the same time. Having said this, there are options of self-publishing books. Hence the quickest way to become a published author is to create content through AI and get self-published. Needless to say, the authentic writers suffer in all this. Their craft, expression and articulation, all of which come from their individual experiences, personalities and ideologies get a beating.

Now let,s talk of the solutions…

One way to protect the originality of human authors is to establish clear standards for labelling AI-generated content. Literary agents can implement policies requiring disclosure when AI technology is used in the creation process. Additionally, they can prioritise human-authored works by promoting and highlighting them in the publishing industry. Supporting initiatives that celebrate the creativity and craftsmanship of human authors can help ensure that their contributions are valued and recognised, preserving the authenticity and charm of their work.

To detect AI-generated content, literary agents can utilise various tools and techniques. Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms can analyse writing styles and patterns to identify anomalies consistent with AI-generated text. Additionally, plagiarism detection software can flag instances where AI-generated content resembles existing works too closely. By incorporating these tools into their review processes, literary agents can maintain transparency and uphold the integrity of human-authored content in the face of AI advancements.

It is just a very fresh advent of AI in creative space so with time, I am hopeful that the Publishers and Literary Agents both will start using AI to filter out a genuine creative writer from a AI creator. And that again will bring back the lost charm of writing.

Mahima: Coming on the positives, how can AI contribute to the exploration and creation of new literary genres? And how must authors navigate the ethical boundaries between traditional and AI-generated content?

Dolly Singh: If you ask me, I don’t support AI generation in literary space. But to answer the question of positives, AI can strictly be used for research and the possibility of exploring new literary genres. For a new writer having a flair for writing, but lacking the knowledge of writing tools, a quick browse-through AI, is harmless.  There is a need for a thoughtful and ethical approach to ensure the coexistence of technology and the timeless art of literary expression.

It is the-getting- used-to-AI which is harmful for the natural creativity. Traditional and natural writers know their ethical boundaries because apart from being ethical, they also want to remain writers. They pour their heart and soul in their writings. It is said when the heart is full, you pour it over the paper. What does AI know of human emotions? The answer is the ideal answer to stick to your creative genes and trust them!

Mahima: Coming next to the ‘Future of Authorship.’ How do you perceive the long- term effects of AI on the role of authors, the publishing industry, and the overall landscape of literature? Please elaborate this in terms of challenges, solutions and opportunities.

Dolly Singh:  See Mahima, other than helping authors explore new devices and genres, I don’t see many desirable long- term effects of AI.

AI is a useful tool to have which must be used sparingly. The long term and persistent effects on new authors will result in slow death of their creative prowess. The publishing industry will soon face the dearth of natural writers. The mass-produced books may find hard to create visibility or readership. A human mind flourishes with creativity and empathetic writing and the soul blooms with empathy and spirituality, both of which can’t be generated by AI.

What AI lacks is a heart and a soul. This is where a human mind, affected by heart and soul, takes an upper edge. This is where human creativity wins.
I personally think that in real life scenarios, the human mind, i.e. the traditional author need not worry about AI taking over. AI can never replicate a human mind because it lacks sensibility and feelings that come from the heart.  Poetry, for example, is empathetic, spiritual and soulful in nature.  Poetry is usually a eulogy or an ode. It spurs revolutions and brings about change. Is it right to create a poem through AI? For a poet in me, it is committing blasphemy. Lastly, I would also add here that AI generated content cannot be copyrighted.

What’s your advice to newbie authors who get disheartened when rejected by so-called big publication houses? How small steps like self-publishing can lead them to bigger wins?

Dolly Singh:  My advice to new authors is that they should focus on the content. If the content is good and you also have a good marketing plan, then self-publishing is not a bad option. In fact, it is a good idea to go for this option because everything about the book that is the design & format can be done as per their choice rather than dictated by the publisher. And they must remember, no one can promote your book as passionately as you can. Once the book is a hit with good reviews and is visible on social media, then the next book can be taken to the traditional publishers.

Mahima: Last but not the least, in a land where copyright is a mere paper tiger, how can authors and poets feel secure of their heart-earned creations? Or what’s your take on the situation and how can it be better deal by the government/laws etc?

Dolly Singh:   Actually, you are right. There is always the threat of your work getting stolen despite copyright.  Such ‘thefts’ are common on social media platforms where your work is often reposted without giving you the credit of original work. The Internet has made it easy to attack someone’s intellectual property, especially copyright and it is very challenging for authors to protect their work.  Infringement of one’s IP (intellectual property) has always been a constant part of this, resulting in significant loss to authors. Keeping this in view, the legislature has made the acts of infringement of IP rights to be an offence and provided for statutory penalties and imprisonment in addition to being a civil wrong, thus emphasising upon the importance of copyright. Not many authors, particularly the newer ones, copyright their work. Hence, they are majorly at the risk of losing their hard work. The knowledge and awareness of IP rights protection is very important.

ABOUT DOLLY SINGH

An acclaimed pot, Ms Singh is the Founder-Director of Delhi Poetry Festival, which is known to be India’s largest multilingual poetry celebration in 2013. Known for curating a democratic literary space, DPF fosters unbiased expression. Singh also spearheads SheScapes, an urban women-centric platform, and launched Delhi Poetry Festival Junior in 2022. An acclaimed author and recipient of REX-iCONGO-UN Karmaveer Chakra and Jyoti Awards, Ms Singh’s projects, including four anthologies by the children and a coffee table book Frozen in a Pause, continue to receive acclaim.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above interview are the personal opinions of the protagonist/protagonists for which The Think Pot is not liable in any manner. To share your views on an apolitical and intense subject like this you can reach out to us at mahimaasharma@thethinkpot.in . You can also write to me via my Linkedin Inbox