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Bards Lost in The Metaverse Episode 25 - AI Collaborative Writing

This week Sharn and Andy discussed the very hot topic of AI Collaborative Writing tools.

But first, Sharn went through this week’s news:

  • In the world of Publishing:

    • Small Press Distribution (SPD) has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support a major shift in its operating model, aimed at increasing market reach for its client publishers, and lowering costs. The company, which has been distributing books by independent publishers for more than 50 years, plans to close its warehouse and move its shipping and fulfillment operations to Ingram Content Group and Publishers Storage and Shipping. As part of the move, SPD will offer its publishers print-on-demand capabilities, better access to key accounts, and affordable international distribution through Ingram’s global POD network. This shift highlights the impact of self-publishing tools and services on traditional publishers and distributors, who are adopting new business processes to compete in the changing market.

    • Controversy has erupted over the past few weeks surrounding Roald Dahl's classic children's books. A British publisher has been accused of censorship by critics who claim that the removal of colorful language from works like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Matilda" is an attempt to make them more acceptable to modern readers. However, sales of the books have surged as Australians rush to buy copies before the revised editions are released. In response to the backlash, Puffin Books has announced that they will publish a "Classic Collection" of Roald Dahl's books with unaltered text alongside the new versions. This debate has reignited discussions about the balance between preserving original works and updating them for a modern audience.

    • And finally, the Bologna Children's Book Fair, taking place next week, will feature a significant focus on artificial intelligence (AI), with over eight sessions specifically devoted to the topic. In the lead-up to the event, there has been considerable discussion around AI, with some asserting that it will revolutionize publishing. However, the fear of AI in the industry has also been evident, with the Authors Guild issuing an update to its model trade book contract to prohibit publishers from using books under contract to train AI technologies. The publishing industry is often known to assume the worst when new technological advances capture the popular imagination. But some are calling "AI" the new frontier, even though versions of AI and machine learning have actually been around for a lot longer than the recent release of ChatGPT. It’s expected that attendees at the Bologna Children's Book Fair next week will find the buzz around AI almost deafening, with at least eight sessions devoted to the topic among the 325 events scheduled. Overall, this shows that the discussion about AI in publishing is only just heating up.

Sharn and Andy then kicked off the show with a good old definition of collaborative writing, and collaborative writing with AI:

What is Collaborative writing:

  • Collaborative writing is a process in which two or more individuals work together to create a written work. This can involve brainstorming ideas, outlining the structure of the piece, dividing writing tasks, and editing and revising the final product. Collaborative writing can be done in person or remotely through technology such as online document sharing or video conferencing.

  • Collaborative writing can take many forms, including:

    • Co-authorship: Two or more authors work together to write a single piece of work, such as a book or academic paper.

    • Peer review: Multiple authors review and provide feedback on each other's writing to improve the quality of the work.

    • Group projects: A group of individuals work together to create a single written work, such as a report or presentation.

  • Collaborative writing has several benefits, such as improving the quality of the work, increasing creativity and innovation, and distributing the workload evenly among team members.

What is AI Collaborative writing:

  • AI collaborative writing, also known as AI-assisted collaborative writing, refers to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to facilitate the collaboration between human writers on a written work. AI can assist with various aspects of the writing process, such as generating ideas, outlining, drafting, editing, proofreading, and even suggesting changes to the overall structure and content of the work.

  • In AI collaborative writing, the AI system analyzes the input from the human writers and provides suggestions or corrections based on its algorithms and knowledge base. The human writers can then choose to accept or reject these suggestions, and the AI system learns from their feedback to improve its future suggestions.

  • The main difference between AI collaborative writing and normal collaborative writing is the involvement of AI technology. In normal collaborative writing, the writers collaborate with each other directly, using their own skills and expertise to contribute to the work. In contrast, AI collaborative writing involves the use of technology to enhance and streamline the collaboration process, allowing the writers to focus more on the creative aspects of the work.

  • AI collaborative writing has the potential to increase efficiency, accuracy, and creativity in the writing process, as well as to enable collaborations between writers who are geographically dispersed. However, it also raises concerns about the role of AI in creative endeavors and the potential for the technology to replace human writers.

  • ***An AI told us this by the way.

They then moved on to providing an overview of some of the AI writing tools currently on the market:

There are several popular tools available for AI-assisted collaborative writing. Here are a few examples and you might be surprised:

  • ChatGPT: ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model developed by OpenAI. It can understand and generate human-like text to provide helpful responses and engage in conversations with people. (This is how ChatGPT described itself in two sentences).

  • Google Docs: Google Docs is a cloud-based word processing tool that allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously. Google Docs also includes an AI-powered grammar checker and a smart compose feature that suggests complete sentences as you type.

  • Grammarly: Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant that can help writers with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. It also provides suggestions for improving clarity, tone, and word choice. Grammarly can be used in conjunction with other writing tools like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Scrivener.

  • Hemingway Editor: Hemingway Editor is a writing tool that helps writers improve the clarity and readability of their writing. It highlights complex sentences, passive voice, adverbs, and other potential issues and provides suggestions for simplifying and improving the text.

  • QuillBot: QuillBot is a paraphrasing tool that uses AI to rewrite text in a more concise and readable way. It can be useful for collaborative writing projects where different team members may have different writing styles.

  • ProWritingAid: ProWritingAid is an AI-powered writing and editing tool that provides suggestions for improving grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. It also includes features like a contextual thesaurus, readability analysis, and a plagiarism checker. It has also just added a ‘Rephrase’ functionality powered by GPT-3 (that we will talk about soon).

  • Sudowrite: Sudowrite is an AI writing tool that helps you generate content, rewrite existing content into something new, elaborate on something when you need more words, and brainstorm ideas. It’s one of the best ai content generator softwares and is user-friendly.

  • Hyperwrite: is a free Chrome extension that helps you write faster by giving you ideas to write as you type. It’s very much like what Gmail is doing with their emails, where you get automatic suggestions on what to type, but this would be for everything you write.

  • GPT-3: Developed by OpenAI, GPT-3 is a language model that can be used for a variety of natural language processing tasks, including generating human-like text. It has been used to create a number of writing tools, such as and ShortlyAI.

    • We asked ChatGPT if it is the same as GPT3 and it said: “No, ChatGPT and GPT-3 are not the same thing. ChatGPT is a name I use to represent myself, a large language model trained by OpenAI to generate human-like text in response to user prompts. GPT-3, on the other hand, is one specific model within the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) series of language models developed by OpenAI. While GPT-3 is one of the most advanced and widely known language models, there are many other models in the GPT series, and they each have their own unique capabilities and limitations.”

  • IBM Watson: IBM Watson is a suite of AI-powered tools that can be used for a variety of tasks, including writing and content creation. It offers a range of natural language processing capabilities, such as language translation and sentiment analysis.

  • Zest AI: Zest AI is a machine learning platform that can be used to create content, such as marketing copy and product descriptions. It uses natural language processing to generate high-quality content that is tailored to specific audiences.

Interesting little side note: Microsoft Word has some machine learning but doesn’t have an AI language model like ChatGPT. Instead, it uses natural language processing algorithms to help with grammar and spelling suggestions and can provide suggestions for words or phrases based on context. But……….. It's rumoured Microsoft is preparing to demo the capabilities of its Prometheus Model and OpenAI's language AI technology in Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other apps as early as March 2023 (that’s this month!). So keep a close eye on the news, cause most likely Word will be joining the AI collaborative writing tool cohort.

It's not just writing tools that authors are using to help them make books, so we can’t talk about AI without also briefly mentioning AI generative art tools that can be used for book covers or other illustration or graphic elements of books:

  • Midjourney

    • Midjourney is one of the best AI image generators, with comprehensive capabilities and extremely fast image generation. Input a text prompt and let Midjourney do the rest.

    • Many artists use Midjourney to generate the images they want as inspiration for their work.

    • The artificial intelligence painting “Théâtre d'Opéra Spatial” produced using Midjourney got first prize in a fine art competition at the Colorado State Fair, beating out 20 other artists.

  • DALE-2

    • DALL-E 2 is a cutting-edge AI image generator developed by OpenAI, the same team that created GPT-3, the top natural language machine learning algorithm.

There are many other tools but Sharn and Andy will deep dive AI Art in a separate podcast.

Into the juicy part of the podcast now, as Sharn and Andy discussed all the fuss and controversy surrounding AI writing tools.

According to ChatGPT: There are a few controversies surrounding AI collaborative writing tools. Some of the key concerns include:

  • Ownership of content: One concern is that AI collaborative writing tools may blur the lines of ownership and authorship. Because these tools rely on algorithms to generate text, it can be difficult to determine who is the "author" of a particular piece of content. This can raise questions around copyright and intellectual property.

  • Privacy: Another concern is that AI collaborative writing tools may compromise the privacy of users. These tools often require users to input personal information in order to generate personalized suggestions, and there is a risk that this information could be compromised or misused.

  • Bias: There are concerns about the potential for bias in AI collaborative writing tools, particularly when it comes to issues like gender, race, and culture. These tools rely on algorithms to generate text, and if these algorithms are themselves biased, it could result in biased content.

  • Quality control: Finally, there are concerns about the quality of content generated by AI collaborative writing tools. While these tools can be helpful in generating ideas and suggestions, they may not always produce high-quality content that is suitable for publication. This can be a concern for individuals or organizations that rely on these tools to create content.

  • Overall, these controversies highlight the need for careful consideration of the ethical and social implications of AI collaborative writing tools, as well as the importance of using these tools in a responsible and transparent manner.

From their own research, the main concerns surrounding AI collaborative tools are:

  • Copyright and ownership

    • There is a lot of debate regarding copyright, ownership of AI generated products.

    • Copyright offices are currently having to make decisions regarding AI and copyright. Kris Kashtanova managed to have her AI generated comic officially registered with the US copyright office, who deemed the story copyrightable (provided its not purely AI generated), and the arrangement of AI generated images as being copyrightable. What isn’t able to be copyrighted is the images themselves that were generated using Midjourney. The United States Copyright Office stated they do not recognize any of the images as being owned or under Kashtanova’s copyright. Kashtanova has said that they edited and arranged the AI-generated art, and are therefore the artist. The debate on this continues.

  • Input and AI training

    • Massive concerns over where AIs get their training data from. Image examples of original artist names still being left in generated images.

  • AI tool limitations

    • There are many concerns that the AI is programmed to be too non-offensive (there are examples of lots of horror, thriller and romance writers struggling as ChatGPT refuses to produce anything offensive. Sudowrite is apparently a bit better for genre authors.)

  • The devaluing of art/artists/artforms

    • There is a belief circulating that these tools “make it too easy for people to take part in”. Andy strongly disagrees with this statement

  • Feeling of people “cheating” by using the tools

    • Some people who have been slaving away manually for years to produce books feel those using the AI tools are cheating.

  • Good old fashioned fear

    • Fear of the unknown makes people react negatively as they don’t want the status quo to change, and no one can say exactly where the propagation of AI will lead.

  • Lack of understanding of AI capability

    • We are currently at the start of understanding and using AI capabilities. Promoting greater awareness of the tools and how they can be used will be essential for figuring out how these tools can be used in the writing craft. People also don’t understand that the AI tools we see today aren't really the AI that everyone imagines. That is actually more Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) which these tools are not.

There generally seems to be a sense of fear and resistance to change in the author and publishing communities, as people struggle to understand the capabilities and implications of AI. To address these issues, it is important to have clear guidelines on AI-generated content, data sources, and ownership, as well as education on the potential benefits and limitations of these tools. Positive voices in the AI space are also very important to dispel misconceptions and help people understand the technology better.

Below is Andy’s experiment with asking ChatGPT to write a 1000 word short story about a boy's skateboard to school that is full of adventure.

The sun had just risen above the horizon, casting a warm glow across the streets. Tommy had his backpack slung over his shoulders and his skateboard tucked under his arm. He was determined to make it to school on time, but he also knew that the journey was just as important as the destination. Today, he was going to take the scenic route and explore some new areas of the city.

Tommy hopped on his skateboard and pushed off, cruising down the sidewalk. As he turned the corner, he saw a group of kids gathered around a ramp in the park. Tommy grinned and veered off the sidewalk, heading towards the ramp. He picked up speed, pumping his legs faster and faster. Then, he launched himself off the ramp, soaring into the air. For a moment, he felt weightless, as if he was flying. Then, he landed back on his board, smoothly rolling away.

The other kids cheered and clapped, but Tommy didn't stick around. He had places to go and things to see. He rode through the park, weaving around trees and dodging benches. Then, he emerged onto the street and continued on his journey.

As he approached a busy intersection, Tommy saw that the light had just turned red. He knew that he could stop and wait for the light to turn green, but that would be boring. Instead, he decided to try something daring. He picked up speed and aimed his skateboard towards the curb. At the last second, he jumped off his board, sending it flying into the air. Tommy somersaulted over the curb and landed on the other side. He quickly got to his feet and caught his skateboard, grinning from ear to ear. The drivers waiting at the red light honked their horns in surprise and amusement.

Tommy continued on his journey, cruising down quiet streets and alleys. He rode up and down hills, feeling the wind in his hair and the sun on his face. He saw graffiti-covered walls, hidden gardens, and small shops he had never noticed before. He stopped for a moment to watch a street performer juggle flaming torches, then tossed him a few coins before moving on.

As he neared the end of his journey, Tommy saw that he was running out of time. He glanced at his watch and saw that he had only a few minutes left before the bell rang. He picked up speed and raced towards the school, weaving in and out of traffic. He dodged pedestrians and cars, narrowly avoiding collisions.

Finally, he skidded to a stop in front of the school gates, panting and sweating. He looked up at the clock tower and saw that he had made it with just seconds to spare. He let out a whoop of triumph and fist-pumped the air.

As he walked through the halls, Tommy felt a sense of accomplishment. He had taken a risk, explored new areas of the city, and still managed to make it to school on time. He felt like he had accomplished something great, something that not many people had ever done before.

As he entered his classroom, Tommy saw that his classmates were already seated and waiting for him. He smiled sheepishly and took his seat, feeling a bit embarrassed for being late. But then, he noticed that his classmates were looking at him with admiration and awe. They had heard about his skateboard adventure, and they were impressed by his bravery and skill.

Tommy felt a sense of pride and satisfaction. He had shown his classmates that he was more than just a kid on a skateboard. He was a daring adventurer, a risk-taker, and a master of his craft. And he knew that he would (it just stopped here)

Then the Bards wrapped up the show with their thoughts on AI collaborative writing tools:

Firstly, would Sharn and Andy use it?

  • Sharn: Yep indeed. I’m still figuring out to what extent, but I really see these AI collaborative tools as being like helpful research assistants, or writing group friends. They are fantastic for bouncing ideas off.

  • Andy: I don't think i would ever use it to produce a story. you can in the experiment in our show notes that there are lots of issues with what it wrote. But would I use it for other things? You bet!

And, do you use it now, and how?

  • Sharn: I do use it already. I use ProWritingAid for editing every chapter. I have also started using its rephrase feature that provides rewording suggestions. I also use ChatGPT to help when I’m stuck trying to improve a sentence, so I ask it to give me some examples of how to reword it. They are never perfect, but they help me have a different perspective and I usually pick and choose things from the options provided. I also use ChatGPT to write the news segment of this show each week. I research and collate information from various articles, but then ask Chat to turn the information into a 3-4 sentence news broadcast. Chat is also great for helping with social media copy and I used it for this purpose when making our recent Invoke Facebook ad.. Truthfully, I haven’t played with it in terms of creative writing as I’ve been in edit mode for over a year. But I might have a play with capabilities once I start writing book two.

    • Sidenote: I have also already used AI generative art to make my current cover for A.M.O.

  • Andy: Yes but less for writing and more for assistance, asking questions and like a EA/PA/Assistant. I also put some examples below of how I could use Chat GPT.

Example of how Andy could use ChatGPT

Un-edited paragraph my book:

Eve is not scared of water, she actually enjoys it. She even really loves exploring underwater places, to her it feels similar to being out in space. But she is not keen on the idea of crawling through a flooded air vent in a ten thousand year old ancient facility in complete darkness. Seth can tell she is scared so gets her to just focus on her breathing. After several minutes of breathing while submerged she begins to calm down a little. Seth doesn’t want her wasting all her oxygen as they are not sure how far they will have to go. Once she is comfortable, they enter the large air vent.

I then asked ChatGPT to rewrite this as an opening paragraph of a Sci Fi book if they were a best selling author:

As Eve swam through the crystal-clear waters of the ancient underwater ruins, she couldn't help but feel a sense of exhilaration. Exploring the mysteries of the deep was second nature to her - it was almost like being in outer space. However, the prospect of crawling through a flooded air vent in complete darkness was enough to give anyone pause, including Eve. Seth noticed her apprehension and urged her to focus on her breathing, allowing her to gradually calm her nerves. Despite Seth's warnings about conserving oxygen, they knew they had to press on.

From the ChatGPT version I would take a couple of key things and use them to edit my paragraph:

Eve is not scared of water, she actually enjoys it. She feels a sense of exhilaration when exploring underwater places, it reminds her of being on the outside of their ship when they are in space. But she is not keen on the idea of crawling through a pitch black flooded air vent in an ancient facility. Seth can tell she is scared so gets her to just focus on her breathing. After several minutes of being submerged and doing her breathing she begins to calm down her nerves. Seth doesn’t want her wasting all her oxygen here as they are not sure how far they will have to go. So once she is comfortable, they enter the large air vent.

As always, we have a lot to do and a lot more to learn. Hope you all have fun following along as we improve our understanding and knowledge!

You can find this podcast episode (and all our other episodes) here: , or directly on your favourite streaming services.

NOTE: Everything discussed during the podcast is simply our own interpretation of information we come across as we research topics, or is commentary based on our own personal experiences. We highly encourage everyone to conduct their own research into topics of interest as information, especially in the technical space, changes regularly.

Music track featured this week was titled Slither Slap and can be viewed/listened to here:

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As always, we’re off to put our bums on seats and do some work, so until next time stay dangerous!





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