The End of Writing
Published on in Design
Soon, you won’t need to write much anymore. Artificial Intelligence will do it for you. With all the free time we will have, we could try to rethink how we learn, work, and how we communicate.
You’ve heard the news. Microsoft bought 49% of OpenAI. Soon, ChatGPT will become the centerpiece of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook. The majority of business matters are written in MS Office. AI will make its heart beat.
As an employee, your job will be reduced to barking a couple of fuzzy commands, from time to time. ChatGPT will read, think and write for you. It’s only a matter of time, until ChatGPT graduates from Office to Windows itself, runs the whole system, and makes the idea of apps look as old-fashioned as cassette tapes.1 Sounds like the pigs inviting the butcher for dinner. Does Microsoft know what they are doing?
Sooner than later, Artificial Intelligence will get rid of Windows, too, yeah, forget laptops, desktops, and monitors… Artificial Intelligence will run everything from a phone, or a watch, or, scratch that, a precious little finger ring. AI will do everything for you in a galaxy of clouds far, far away, through an ultra-light client in slightly over 12 parsecs.
It could be heaven.
- The end of apps and your 99 subscriptions: If ChatGPT is the centerpiece of all apps, you don’t need them, you just need a couple of plugins that render your processed barks.
- The end of business communication: If no one writes or reads emails, Slacks, or Trellos anymore, we might as well stop sending them altogether.
- The end of bosses: If everyone uses the same brain, we don’t need anyone telling us what to do.
Or it could be hell.
- The end of income: What do we need work for when a machine simulates work better than yourself?
- The end of you: What do we need you for when a machine simulates you better than yourself?
- The end of language: If we all know that language is not real, we don’t need to speak anymore.
If no one understands what no one thought, and no one reads what no one has written, we may as well abolish the whole circus of language and enjoy the silence. Wouldn’t it be nice? Jokes aside, it looks like AI devalues all productivity apps, not just the Office Suite, but work on the computer is getting superfluous.2 Screenwork has been hit by a Weimar scale inflation.
No more bullshit jobs
Instead of typing boring requests in Outlook, instead of cropping stock imagery and power pointing the newest Lego-block business-clichés, instead of braining up Word memos that no one will read, you can give your computer a couple of approximate orders and the machine processes the text for you. Working on a screen has never been this easy. So… take it easy. It was all bullshit anyways. AI will catapult the existing business circus into a Spaceballs dimension.
The briefings, meetings, memos, proposals, timesheets and invoices, the deliverables, code and code reviews, the marketing campaigns, and analytics… Work on the screen has all been a simulation of work before AI started simulating the simulation. Time to leave the simulation of simulations to the machines. Let them print money while you focus on things that matter. Okay. But what matters, now?
If artificial intelligence frees us from business as usual, what will we do with all our free time? Play chess? Paint in oil? Compose symphonies? Read a printed book? Write on paper? Maybe we do nothing. Maybe we just take it easy. Or maybe it’s time to get real.
- We need to rethink school and work. AI has made perfectly clear that, to a large degree, we all simulate knowledge and meaning. It is so good at simulating school and business language because a lot of our own understanding in both spheres is largely simulated.
- We need to rethink how we spend our free time. AI will have eaten all our hobbies long before it fired us from our job. It beat Kasparov at chess a long time ago. It’s still debatable if it can beat Bach at composing, Picasso at painting, or Shakespeare at writing. But it already makes it easy for a hobbyist to simulate them. Why resist? AI will blur the lines.
- We need to observe AI now, as it still makes mistakes and reveals through its bugs how it works. AI acts and feels like cancer. It grows uncontrolled out of our organic knowledge, and it grows where that organic knowledge already has developed some carcinogenic tissue. And it looks like cancer, too. I may be biased, but the Dall-E 2 and Stable Diffusion pictures do not look healthy, meaningful, and happy. It’s one dark horror show of stuff growing out of what used to be organic. Sure, it’ll get better and learn to simulate happy images. Once it simulates us perfectly, we won’t understand it at all anymore. We won’t be able to discern it from us and understand how it works.
For a large part, school and work as we know it has been a simulation of work for some time. Now, teachers, students, bosses, and employees, have AI. Why would you believe that you, my out-simulated human fellow, are able to find meaning in anything? Do you think people will care about your faulty endeavors just because you are human? How are you human if you leave understanding reading, thinking, writing, caring, and loving to a processor? Because of your soul? What soul? What makes you believe that you have a real soul when you sold your metaphorical one to the machines?
Before we all get sucked into that black hole, let’s remember the idea of human language. Language connects us. Language connects one human being to another. Through space and time. Language transports meaning between minds, sense between bodies, it can make us understand each other and ourselves. It can make us feel what others feel. Language is a bridge.
If we disconnect one side of the bridge, the bridge falls. If one listener or speaker, writer, or reader stops feeling what is said, the bridge crumbles. Language without a body is senseless, meaningless, void.
It took years to write this article. It took days of thinking, writing, and rewriting it until it was thought clearly enough. You can let Artificial Intelligence speak for you, but it can’t feel and think for you.
- iA will not let AI write your text. We want you to feel what you want to say, think what you want to write, and write so clearly that others will think what you think and feel what you felt. We will continue to use algorithms if they encourage you to think harder. We have been doing that for years (with Syntax Highlight and Style Check). Use ChatGPT to correct spelling errors or check for factual or logical errors or anything that makes you think more. But, whatever you do, think more, not less. If you’d rather use ChatGPT than feel, write and think for yourself, you can do that elsewhere. To use ChatGPT you don’t need us. It’ll be everywhere else. ↩
- The popular argument is that those who will be using AI will win and those who do not will be left behind. As long as AI remains a tool and we stay in control, that argument is fully plausible. But we are already so much following technology in how we communicate with each other. The world is full of noise because we are not in control of our information technology but the other way around. When it comes to writing, things are not that easy. If you do not understand the foundation of what you write, it’s not likely that you will end up with a text that has been felt and understood in every aspect. Writing is rewriting and rewriting until the thought becomes clear. AI may help here and there pointing you to unclear elements, but if AI writes for you, you will stop thinking. ↩