"How Worried Should I Be About ChatGPT?"

The problem isn't what was created, but what people are doing with it.

Dear Milo,

Thanks for this new advice column! I don’t know if this question counts, but do you have any thoughts on ChatGPT? I hate knowing that if I put my work out there either posted online or in a book that my work could be stolen at any second or manipulated into something it’s not. I’m also worried that publishers will replace writers with AI because it’s cheaper. Sometimes it makes me want to stop writing, but I also don’t want to stop writing! What kind of world will unpublished writers like me come into? Help!


Scared Luddite

Jamaica Plain, MA

Dear Scared Luddite,

Hoo boy, this one might already win for the longest Queeries response I’ll ever write. But you’re asking some important stuff here and I want to answer you the best I can.

Your worries are understandable. Something new, unexpected, and highly disruptive has just been tossed into the writing community like a hand grenade. While AI programs such as ChatGPT aren’t inherently bad and can be used in helpful, accessible ways, some folks are using them for nefarious purposes. And that really sucks. This situation is still so fresh that I don’t have much I can say for definitive comfort or tangible calls to action, but I do believe that knowledge is power. Hopefully the information below gives you a firmer footing and inspires you (and anyone else reading) with ideas for our next steps.

You mentioned ChatGPT is particular, but some of your woes extend beyond that particular AI program. There’s so much to say about the cross-section of AI and writing that I’m going to boil it down to three concerns: 1) AI-generated work replacing writers, 2) scammers using AI to make a quick buck in the publishing world (*laughs in writer*), and 3) people using human-generated work for AI purposes without consent.