writer on the side

Can AI and GPT-3 Replace Authors? A Conversation with Liam Porr on Writer on The Side

Check out the Writer on The Side Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeways

  • “GPT-3 is a text-completion artificial intelligence. Specifically, it’s in the category of natural language processing artificial intelligence. This is a technology developed by OpenAI which is a machine learning AI company originally started by Elon Musk now run by Sam Altman.” – Hassan Osman
    • “Basically what it does is it takes a piece of text that you give it and it tries to complete that text”
    • The AI is based on writing from a small subset of the internet
  • After publishing his first GPT-3 generated post on Substack, Liam got 26,000 unique readers in 2 weeks
    • Liam never revealed the text was written by an AI and the public liked the writing on its own accord
  • Liam believes that while GPT-3 is attention-grabbing, it currently doesn’t have much practical use
    • A far more practical text-based AI would be one that can analyze information and summarize it for the public
  • “I think in the near future you are going to see a lot of writers who are using GPT-3 or similar models to basically accelerate the writing process” – Hassan Oman
  • Liam believes GPT-3 will make it easier to become a writer, but it will also raise the bar for the quality of content that people read

Intro

  • Liam Porr (@liamport9) is a computer science student at the University of California, Berkeley and an online blogger
  • Host: Hassan Osman (@HassanO)

What is GPT-3?

  • “GPT-3 is a text completion artificial intelligence. Specifically, it’s in the category of natural language processing artificial intelligence. This is a technology developed by OpenAI which is a machine learning AI company originally started by Elon Musk now run by Sam Altman.” – Hassan Osman
    • “Basically what it does is it takes a piece of text that you give it and it tries to complete that text”
    • “If you give it a question the most logical response would be to answer that question. If you gave it half of a sentence it would try to complete that sentence.”
  • You can’t control the output yet
    • You can give GPT-3 a word limit, but the AI will just suddenly cut off rather than finishing the story within the limit
  • The AI is based on writing from a small subset of the internet so it’s possible GPT-3 could even start to feed itself its own information

How Liam Started His AI-Generated Blog

  • OpenAI is limiting the release of GPT-3 to the public so Liam had to first find someone who had access
  • After publishing his first post on Substack, Liam got 26,000 unique readers in 2 weeks
    • Liam never revealed the text was written by an AI and the public loved the writing on its own accord
  • In the early comments, only two readers suspected the post was written by GPT-3
    • This was after GPT-3 already received media hype in 2020
    • The response to these comments was that it was rude and offensive to imply someone’s writing was similar to an AI’s

Liam’s Process

  • Liam only wrote the title and first couple sentences for every blog post; GPT-3 wrote the rest 
  • Liam would then create about eight different AI-generated posts from his introduction and choose the best one
    • The only edits he performed were when GPT-3 generated illogical or incoherent sentences, otherwise, it was straight copy and paste
  • Engineering the initial human input isn’t as simple as writing whatever you want. It takes some effort to make the AI craft the desired response rather than veering on a tangent.
  • When sharing his story with The Guardian, the newspaper told Liam that AI writing was easier to edit than human writing

GPT-3 Copyrights

  • US copyright law requires a bare minimum creative contribution in order to claim ownership
    • By constructing the prompt you provide a creative contribution and thus you are the copyright owner
  • The caveat to this is that the output must adhere to OpenAI’s terms of use
    • Otherwise, you can distribute the output as you wish

Implications of GPT-3

  • OpenAI is devoting much of their time addressing how GPT-3 might be used by extremist political groups to generate support
    • This might be in training the AI to give charismatic speeches espousing extremist ideologies, creating fake information sources, or by creating fake voices in an astroturf movement
    • Liam believes OpenAI should dedicate more time to the actual text digestion processes
  • Liam believes that while GPT-3 is attention-grabbing, it currently doesn’t have much practical use
    • “There’s just so much abundant information I think that the actual utility is in figuring out better ways to automatically digest text and summarize it for people” Hassan Oman
      • An AI that can analyze masses of information would greatly streamline document-based fields like law or government and especially reduce bureaucracy
  • “I think in the near future you are going to see a lot of writers who are using GPT-3 or similar models to basically accelerate the writing process”Hassan Oman
    • “Specifically when you’re looking for inspiration and you’re trying to start a block of text from nothing, GPT-3 is really good at giving you something to work with”
    • GPT-3 could even help with research as it will formulate writing based on all published texts on a topic
  • Liam believes GPT-3 will make it easier to become a writer, but it will also raise the bar for the quality of content that people read

When Will GPT-3 Write Books?

  • Writing nonfiction is harder for an AI than fiction and GPT-3 isn’t even currently capable of writing a full-length fiction book
    • “With nonfiction, it’s a little more difficult because now you have to add in the aspect of fact-checking” – Hassan Oman
  • “I think that it’s quite possible that we can get this kind of technology in the next couple of years” Hassan Oman
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Notes By TD

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