Everybody's been talking about ChatGPT since the artificial intelligence platform launched in November last year, from those asking it for jokes through to people in the highest offices of power around the world.
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As someone who is a software engineer but also a flash fiction sci-fi novelist, Daniel Budden of Dubbo can provide a unique insight given the impact AI and ChatGPT could have on both aspects of his life.
Mr Budden, who made full disclosure that he works for a large Sydney-based IT firm that uses algorithms like ChatGPT and what he tells us does not represent his employer's views, is confident creative writing will live on.
"As a writer, I don't feel threatened by AI taking over my space, maybe because I am not yet making millions of dollars from published books," Mr Budden said.
"Writers write not just to be published but to process events in their lives, to face what scares them, and even to record family stories.
"Even in a worst-case AI-saturated world these things still hold true."
But what concerns Mr Budden as an IT engineer as we embrace our digital world is the ability of AI to generate content which to him could lead to purveying "convincing misinformation".
ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. It was launched in November last year and the UK-based Technocracy News claimed it could literally pass Alan Turing's test.
Thus, the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) has quickly banned the use of ChatGPT on any of its scientific documents even as alarmed ICML organisers are still evaluating it as a tool for writing and editing AI texts.
Even the US Congress is experimenting with ChatGPT with Massachusetts representative Jake Auchinloss, a Democrat, delivering a ChatGPT-generated speech last week on the proposed bill creating a US-Israel artificial intelligence centre.
So what then constitutes convincing misinformation by chatbots like ChatGPT? Mr Budden explained it is the possibility of misuse of "training data and resulting bias of the AI algorithm" that produces the information sought by internet users on the world wide web or www and universal resource locator or URL.
"It's like a child learning to read their first book at school, so essentially the computer is doing that to learn how the English language works," he said.
Probing Mr Budden further, he said, "Essentially the computer is doing just that, based on what it learned and read [from data], it is writing new stuff from the content it learned and read."
Mr Budden said like many aspects of highly technical knowledge on information technology in the digital age, "the speed of development of AI algorithms proceeds faster than what government bodies and schools can adapt."
He warned everyone reliant on digital content for general use, particularly in education and work purposes may "need to be wary of where all the information we consume comes from, along with its motives".
Internet users should also be aware of what is misinformation and bias because they are "two different issues" in artificial intelligence.
But ChatGPT algorithm can also be convincing content for university essays and self-published books because its cache of data contains millions of existing contents on the internet, just like when someone googles a topic on the browser.
"They are very sophisticated models from existing writings ... its still derivative. [But] AI can't write a dream it had or turn a traumatic experience into a piece of art," Mr Budden said.
As an example, he did ask ChatGPT to "write me a horror short story about a slime monster to kids" and the algorithm did churn something in response, something also along that line.
"I'm not sure if it affects the reader's emotions or whether it will engage my readers," he said.
Mr Budden writes flash fiction about science, horror stories, and gory short novels with "dark endings but the good hero always wins".
He has been blending horror and thriller genres, being "close cousins", and they're all fantasies that intrigued him since a teenager, inspired by Stephen King's suspense books that turned blockbusters on screen.
"Something in me is just tied to horror ... just like in music where some people prefer jazz or heavy metal and they just can't explain why," the father of two said.
Since moving to Dubbo from Sydney, Mr Budden and his wife Sarah, who grew up in Dubbo, believed it was wise to be closer to family enabling Regina, 4, and Edgar, 2, to spend more time with them.
As a software engineer whose domain is to make cyber-safe systems for nearly a decade now, he works from home and a few days in Sydney.
In March, Mr Budden will host a Pop Up Workshop for Creatives for his fellow literary creators to include artists, graphic designers, and photographers in bringing their works globally online, along with social media.
"I'll show them how they can work with social media to make their brands seen, their blogs read and artworks they can sell online from google search.
"From my approach to online writing, I write blogs about my thoughts on writing, book reviews, and also a short fiction story where I've been able to gradually build my online presence.
"When publishers look at my work, they also see my presence online and the communities I've built with readers."
Mr Budden is a member of the Outback Writers Centre holding annual festivals in Dubbo, having a growing following of literary and art creators based in the region and far western NSW.
Centre organiser and author of a sci-fi novel, Lost, Val Clark said they are researching ChatGPT and how it can influence the work of writers in all types of literary genres and Mr Budden's upcoming workshop will be an avenue for broader AI discussions.
As digital publishing becomes a norm, many writers from novice to pro are now relying on online publishers such as Amazon and hard copy printed by IngramSpark, among on-demand printers in the publishing market.
"I still have to research, but we're not concerned about AI or ChatGPT," Ms Clark said.
In the world of wordsmiths who make a living as content creators, even if ChatGPT or other AI platforms are widely used that may be churning the content they've written in the first place, it won't affect them, Mr Budden said.
Even Mr Budden is convinced AI platform such as ChatGPT will simply flourish, and perhaps evolve to be "increasingly more frequent and even be interesting for readers".
But AI and ChatGPT are simply just that, artificial intelligence, trained to read what's already written, Mr Budden said.
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