Harnessing AI’s Power, Keeping the Human Touch
Adapting in the Age of AI
As I was mulling over this post I heard the now familiar sound of plastic rubbing against something. Just over a week ago my cat, Hobo, had emergency surgery. While on the mend she’s still wearing the cone to keep her away from the staples on the incision.
The sound I heard was her trying to slip behind the curtain on the east window to enjoy the morning sunlight. I watched as she figured out how to move the curtain enough with her paw to get where she wanted to go.
Adapting to Change
She’s learning to adapt. The cone widens the space around her head. Without it, she needed only get her nose between the wall and the curtain to get where she wanted to go. With the cone instead of the narrow nose it’s now a wide path. She adapted by using her paw to widen the gap she wanted to move through.
AI and the Creative Debate
Adapting is something going on right now for many creatives. AI has provided a firehose of possibility with its ability to summon knowledge from a vast storehouse it can access. While Hobo needed to widen the gap to move through, creatives need to narrow the flow, to determine the best use of the tool for them.
As AI continues to nudge its way into our lives, the inevitable debate over its pros and cons is ongoing. That’s not a bad thing, we can’t blindly dive into any substantive change.
A bit ago, I read a post on Medium from their management team making it clear Medium is a place for human writers. As it should be. As any content platform should be. If you’re considering replacing yourself with AI, have you given some thought to how much you want to be a creative?
Warts and all, I want to develop as a creative and I prefer my salad on a plate with a lovely dressing, not on a screen published under my name. I have a reputation of speaking with brevity, anything else showing up on the screen, would not be believed.
I am not anti-AI, I just don’t believe it can or will replace true creativity. I have however figured out how to remain true to being a creative while using AI as a tool to assist my work.
My AI Toolkit
Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve spent hours upon hours exploring and experimenting with AI. I use both ChatGPT and Midjourney. These days, pretty much any graphic you see me use started life in Midjourney. Sometimes they end up in Procreate on my iPad being customized to what I want.
I lay no claim to being an artist. Not in the traditional sense. The more I learn about how to generate art in Midjourney, the more comfortable I’ve become with understanding generative art as an emerging genre.
The tools of the genre isn’t what a traditional artist would use. They are the crafting of the prompts and using the features of the platform. I’ve spent countless hours compiling lists of terms, styles, parameters and how to effectively use them to get the results I’m looking for.
Ethical Boundaries in AI
There is one line I will not cross though.
I will not create a prompt asking for the “style of xxx” where xxx is an artist not in the public domain. I value the copyright on the content I create, I need to value the copyright of artists. They learned their craft and developed their style that gave voice to their creativity. I need to develop my own.
Just because a tool lets me use something, doesn’t mean I should.
As for ChatGPT, I’ve also spent a lot of time learning what I can do with it. I use it as a tool to assist me and save me time. Let’s look at some of the ways I accomplish that.
Creating Prompts — Each month I create sets of daily prompts to go out to my subscribers. The prompts include: word, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, fiction and a quote. I’ve developed a prompt to get the set of prompts I want each month saving me hours of time.
Brainstorming — This is the biggest use of ChatGPT for me. I brainstorm for ideas, perspectives, concepts and feedback. It’s like having a non-judgemental assistant responding to my questions. It will provide me with cautions about some of its responses like for example, reminding me some cultural differences might alter its answers. This has at times prompted me to explore those differences. I’ve often learned perspective I didn’t previously have.
Lists — I’ll often ask it to produce lists of ideas for my projects. For example, if I want to create a new colouring book on a specific theme. I’ll ask it to create a list of image ideas for which I’ll create prompts in Midjourney. Yes, I know, there was ways to have it write the prompts, I prefer to do my own.
Story Ideas - I’ll give it a general idea of a story topic and ask it to generate ideas for plots. I enjoy developing storylines from this. I play a sort of ‘what if’ game with ChatGPT.
I’ll go over each idea that has even a spark of interest for me and start asking it ‘what if’ questions and how it would alter the plot idea. I keep asking until either I have an idea that excites me or I lose interest. This is not unlike what I would do in my own mind when deciding on a fiction story. ChatGPT becomes my brainstorm partner.
I’ve at times asked it to write the story text. While interesting to see how it handles the story, that text has never made it past our chat on ChatGPT. It can’t use my voice to create and I really don’t want it to anyways.
- Non-Fiction Ideas — While ChatGPT’s hallucinating can be fun in a fiction story, it doing so with non-fiction kills my credibility. I’ll ask it for an outline on a non-fiction topic which can potentially help to capture perspectives I might have missed otherwise.
I then need to validate any ideas it puts forth using an actual search engine. These days, you might want to validate an idea with more than one source as you might be finding AI generated source material.
- Study Partner — Every day I have a list of books I go through and read a section in. As I read I’ll make notes in my journal. If I come across a concept that is new, I’ll use ChatGPT for information on the concept.
Among the books I read every day is the Bible. I have a core group of questions I keep in mind as I read the passage. I have started asking ChatGPT the same questions about the passage of the day. The answers often gives me perspectives I’d not noticed before.
I had to laugh when I first started doing this. It kept telling me that it would be best to read the passage myself to get a greater understanding of the text. Finally I told it, “BTW, I’ve read the text and answered the questions. I’m asking you as a study buddy to provide input.” It responded it was delighted to be my study buddy and has stopped nagging me to read the text.
- Content Review and Finalizing — Once I have my piece written and have gone over it a few times myself, I’ll drop the text into ChatGPT. I ask it to review the text for strengths, weaknesses and general flow. This has often proven helpful at spotting poor transitions from one point to the next or information gaps.
One thing I am often very weak on is decided on titles and sub-headings. I’ll often ask its input on both. I don’t always take it’s suggestions.
The Human Touch in AI
As you can see, there are several ways you can use AI to save time and to improve your overall work. If you feel the need to have AI do that work for you, that’s either laziness or maybe you need to rethink if you’re a creative or not.
With all my playing around, I’ve not seen ChatGPT produce content I’d want to use. It lacks nuance, feeling and most importantly, the personal touch that comes from drawing on your own personal experiences.
Go ahead, use ChatGPT all you want. As the tool it should be. Don’t try to replace yourself. Just replace the grunt work so you can be more creative.
Yes, this article is written by a human. As are all my articles.
How do you use AI?
Shadowspub writes on a variety of subjects as she pursues her passion for learning. She also writes on other platforms and enjoys creating books you use like journals, notebooks, coloring books etc. Her Nicheless Narrative podcast airs on Thursdays each week.
NOTE: unless otherwise stated, all images are the author’s.
Some of the image work may have been done in Midjourney for which I hold a licence to use the imges commercially.
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