Writers Won’t be Replaced by AI

5 min readJan 20, 2023

At least not for a very long time


It’s unsurprising with the rise of AI art to feel that artifical intelligence is coming for writers, too. We’re the ones who’ve written and read about the harmful effects of technology — Big Brother, Ex Machina, Iron Man’s ‘Jarvis.’

Maybe I was bias when I said: don’t worry, it’s fiction.

Then came ChatGPT.

This technology can write poetry, short stories, and essays. It can also write code and build entire websites. Pretty cool, right?

And also worrying.

How many of us forgot to write that essay, or want to be a poet but can’t quite think of the right thing to say? How many of us sit, crafting blogs which an AI could write in 5 minutes?

Students, writers, and professionals are flocking to chatbot for help. Yet, the results are their campaigns have convinced me AI can’t replace writers.

AI is pretty, well, not pretty

Regardless of the topic, the generated text is quite… predictable. It all has the same tone of voice.

This is because AI can only generate text based on the text dataset collected by the researchers across the internet. The content isn’t new. Imagine AI is a wheel, and human-written content are its spokes. Round and round it churns the same data. Right now, AI doesn’t have the power to create its own data.As a result, the answers are far from innovative and wow-inducing.

AI has not lived a human life and has no idea how the world works. You can process all the date you want, but AI will never understand what it’s like to be human.

For example, Thomas Nagel’s What is it Like to Be a Bat? is extremely imporant when understanding why AI can’t achieve the human experience:

“To the extent that I could look and behave like a wasp or a bat without changing my fundamental structure, my experiences would not be anything like the experiences of those animals.

On the other hand, it is doubtful that any meaning can be attached to the supposition that I should possess the internal neurophysiological constitution of a bat. Even if I could by gradual degrees be transformed into a bat, nothing in my present constitution enables me to imagine what the experiences of such a future stage of myself thus metamorphosed would be like. The best evidence would come from the experiences of bats, if we only knew what they were like.

So if extrapolation from our own case is involved in the idea of what it is like to be a bat, the extrapolation must be incompletable. We cannot form more than a schematic conception of what it is like.”

Thomas Nagel, What is it Like to Be a Bat?

The mind of an AI

Despite the lack of humanity, AI uses datasets, not neurological links like humans do.

The writer’s brain provides new perspectives, frameworks, and ideas to the scene. Just as with all the articles at The Book Shelf, normally about nonfiction or the publishing industry, today I’ve decided to discuss AI in the writersphere which is completely different.

However, I’ve decided to write about it because ever since chatbot gained popularity amongst young people, I began to worry about what sort of writer’s voices will actually be artificially constructed.

And the thing is — you can tell. You can always tell when an AI has written a story, because it lacks raw, human emotion and connection.

These links only come when we become exposed to other ideas, spend time stewing in thought and explore the possible connections that lie between ideas.

AI can’t achieve the intricate level of thought which goes into forming these connections and links.

And that uniqueness translates into innovative and unpredictable insights that we include in our writing.

“Roughly it means that, having found myself thrown into the world, I go on to create my own definition (or nature, or essence), in a way that never happens with other objects or life forms. You might think you have defined me by some label, but you are wrong, for I am always a work in progress. I create myself constantly through action, and this is so fundamental to my human condition that it is the human condition, from the moment of first consciousness to the moment when death wipes it out. I am my own freedom: no more, no less.”

Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Cafe

It’s not just recycling content, but falsifying it

Writers have voices. You know you’re reading Stephen King or Virginia Woolf or Ursula Le Guin. Their tones are predictable but always adding, connecting, and exhuming ideas.

AI is unpredictable, and it’s also a liar.

TikTok user professorcasey found that ChatGPT was fabricating fake sources for an academic essay it wrote. It found real scholars, but made up their papers. Again, the lack of cognitive ability to make links between data like a human can.

The AI models uses text generation rooted in statistical probability — what is popular, trending, or most-viewed? What has done well before? However, the AI processes blur the boundaries of information by learning what certain papers or poems are typically like and mimicking the style.

And unless the user meticulously checks every line and fact that the model returns, the content generated by the model shouldn’t be trusted.

People know people

While AI writing tools like ChatGPT are powerful and well-crafted, they are simply the perfect internet user; the ‘chronically online.’ And they lack what makes good writing good.

The human experience.

The human ability to link seemingly unrelated events and emotions and express these in a way which is raw and real.

Obviously, using an AI to help you write is not so bad, but all it’s doing is remixing content entirely collated on the internet. Use AI as an idea tool, use it to spark imagination in your own mind by asking questions or using prompts.

But remember everything that AI is telling you, is copied and pasted. The points are the same, the content is the same, and the emotions are the same. You’re not adding anything new, just feeding the churning wheel of AI content.

By Shelby Jones




At The Book Shelf, we help aspiring nonfiction authors bring their books to life.