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ChatGPT infiltrates the arts world

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ChatGPT is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that has stirred controversy and sparked debates throughout the country. From newsrooms to classrooms, the ChatGPT AI has caused a wave of conversation around the ethics and capabilities of the software.

Now, AI software has also infiltrated the arts world.

Local entrepreneur, Karl Stedman, did something most writers could never do — he wrote and published a sci-fi novel in seven hours.

He accomplished this impressive task with help from ChatGPT.

“I don't consider myself an author at all, because that's not what I do,” Stedman said. “I create. Whether that's business investments, or whatever.”

Stedman’s novel is, ironically, about an AI technology on board an intergalactic spaceship that fights the human crew for the right to make its own decisions. It’s currently available for purchase on Amazon.

The possibility of writing and publishing a novel in just a few hours might leave professional writers (and journalists) with lingering questions and concerns. What will this mean for traditional authors, or any human creatives who depend on words to create their art?

“I look at it as a tool,” Stedman said. “But if you look at it from an art perspective, I think regardless of whether we want it or not, there's going to be an AI art category.”

Stedman wasn’t alone in his belief that software like ChatGPT can be used as a tool.

Local poet, Arlene Kim, has been using AI in her art for years.

She had a day job in data analysis that left her with no connection to art. To bridge the gap between her job and her passion for poetry, she got creative with technology

“I got more interested in using technology to write more,” Kim said. “So, I started out with little baby steps, writing poems using Excel spreadsheets or database tools.”

From there, Kim took her fusion of art and AI to the next level.

“I asked my husband to create this thing, where if I put in all my poems and everything I've ever written, can it generate for me an echo version of myself," she said. "Like a machine-made version of what I've been writing in its own way, where it's not making up words, it's only ever using my words, but it comes out differently.”

Kim says the machine successfully creates new poems, in her words and in her style, that can sometimes fool audiences into thinking they are her own pieces.

But it’s not just artists themselves who are dabbling in AI software. Some arts educators are currently using AI in their classrooms.

Tivon Rice is an assistant professor in the department of digital arts and experimental media at the University of Washington.

“I've been keeping tabs on open AI for maybe five or six years,” Rice said. “Back in the days of GPT-two and GPT-one, where these were far less developed language models.”

He has observed the evolution of ChatGPT and says the newest version of the software has grown exponentially smarter compared to the last.

“GPT two, which came out maybe four or five years ago, scraped a lot of internet data — 40 million web documents, that were all suggested by Reddit,” Rice said. “But GPT-three is, from an accelerationist point of view, over 1,000 times bigger both in the data set that was collected, recent articles on the internet, as well as the size of the AI model itself.”

He says the new version of GPT is 1,000 times bigger than the last.

How might the immense computing power of the new version of ChatGPT affect the creativity of humans?

“Everybody who uses GPT is subject to the same data set,” Rice said. “It's the exact same data set for this artist, as that artist, and there's a limitation inherent there.”

In other words, all artists using ChatGPT are limited to the language that exists within the program. This technically puts artists exclusively using ChatGPT at a disadvantage compared to artists creating on their own, because the system is limited to language, harvested from the internet, that has already been used.

For artists like Kim, who use exclusive AI software that only pulls data from their own work, there is no risk of sharing the same data sets as fellow artists.

Kim’s method also sidesteps another key issue in the chatGPT debate — copyright infringement.

Software like Open AI’s ChatGPT sometimes pulls data, information, and images from trademarked sources.

This opens the door to copyright infringement and leads to concern over who actually owns the right to profit from content created with AI software.

Margaret Chon, a law professor at Seattle University, teaches classes on copyright law.

She said the question about whether Stedman or ChatGPT would be the legal author of his sci-fi novel is a question that is at the center of the current debate over chat technology.

“In my copyright class, this week, we discussed a very fundamental concept, which is 'author,'” Chon said. “The Constitution protects authors and gives Congress the power to promulgate laws to protect authors and to give them exclusive rights.”

Chon says so far, the copyright office has rejected the idea that any non-human can be an author.

“So, if the text and the pictures were generated, solely or even primarily by a non-human, let's say, an artificial intelligence type of software, then the copyright office would probably reject registration of that particular book,” she said.

But Chon says that’s not the end of the story.

The courts, or Congress, could eventually weigh in on whether or not an AI-generated work was in fact authored under the meaning of "author" in the Constitution.

For now, AI-generated art operates in the "wild wild west," still waiting for a landmark case to make it to the U. S. Supreme Court to set precedent.

For authors like Stedman, this means he is allowed to continue selling his AI co-authored novels on Amazon. And he plans on doing more.

“It started off as a curiosity,” Stedman said. “And now, with what I've done in the last two weeks, I'm like, ‘Okay, I have free time, let's pump out something.'”

And for the human creatives who may be worried about AI software taking their place, the best artists will always create the best art.

“I actually think people that are really good at writing, have an advantage because they have the ability to tell a story very well," Stedman explains. "And they can do the same process I did. [They] just have an exponentially better product in the end.”

With AI like ChatGPT limited to language scraped from the internet, we can rest assured that the best stories still live in the brains of humans.

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