“This machine can produce a five-thousand-word story, all typed and ready for dispatch, in thirty seconds. How can the writers compete with that?”
This isn’t a reference to ChatGPT but an excerpt from “The Great Automatic Grammatizator”, a satirical short story written nearly 70 years ago by Roald Dahl, the legendary children’s author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. The story revolves around Adolph Knipe, an ingenious engineer who creates a machine called the Great Automatic Grammatizator that can write stories and novels in just minutes. Knipe uses the machine to dominate the literary world, forcing talented authors to sign over their creative rights and work for his company. What’s ironic is that this description of the book came from ChatGPT – I just typed “TLDR:” (Too Long Didn’t Read) and pasted the PDF link to the short story.
As evidenced by these existential questions posed in the March 28 open letter calling on “all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4” that has been signed by more than 3,000 tech leaders and researchers, including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, we are now facing even greater potential negative consequences as a result of relying too heavily on machines and technology than Dahl foreshadowed back in 1954:
Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth?
Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones?
Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us?
Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?