Not So Intelligent Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligent apps have the writing world in a tizzy. To listen to AI proponents, writers—book authors, content writers, journalists—will soon be going the way of the buggy whip. But before we wordmeisters throw out our computers and style manuals, let’s take a deep breath and consider some facts.
AI refers to a form of intelligence created by humans and, let’s face it, humankind isn’t the brightest bulb in the cosmic chandelier. That also goes for software engineers who program the AI apps. The idea that humans can create anything intelligent is laughable.
I worked with programmers for many years when I was a Navy research analyst. They exist in a world of algorithms consisting of “if this, then that” statements. Programmers are not omniscient (who is?), so they rely on “subject matter experts” like me to tell them what those algorithms should do. And the one thing algorithms can’t do is think—at least not yet.
Any writer who relies on AI to produce novels, journalism, or online content will end up with mud on their face just as happened to the attorney who got caught relying on AI to write his inaccurate court filings.
Recently, I tested one of the better-known AI content mills by asking it to write a Wikipedia entry about me. The results were interesting—and entirely wrong. Here are a few examples:
“Martin Roy Hill is an American author and former military officer known for his gripping and suspenseful thriller novels. With a background in law enforcement and military intelligence, Hill brings a unique blend of experience and expertise to his writing.” (Not really. I was a medical service corps officer then later converted to military police.)
“Martin Roy Hill was born on March 12, 1970, in Chicago, Illinois.” (Wrong date, year, city, and state).
“Hill pursued his academic journey at Northwestern University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.” (I received a BA in journalism from CSU Dominguez Hills).
“Following his graduation, Hill joined the United States Army, where he served as a military intelligence officer.” (I joined the US Coast Guard Reserve after high school with subsequent enlistments in the USNR and the California Guard).
“After leaving the military, Hill transitioned into law enforcement, joining the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). He worked as a patrol officer and later as a detective in the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division. (I served as a volunteer medic with the San Diego Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Reserve. I made my living as a journalist and, later, as a military analyst).
“In 2012, Hill published his debut novel, "The Killing Depths," which introduced readers to his recurring protagonist, Peter Brandt, a former Navy diver turned investigative journalist.” (“The Killing Depths” features Linus Schag, an NCIS special agent. Peter Brandt, an investigative journalist, is featured in another one of my series. Neither is a former Navy diver.)
The AI-produced bio went on to credit me with authorship of several short stories written by other authors as well as writing awards I never won. Yet, it only listed four of the twelve books I’ve published and none of the writing awards I actually have won.
I made several more attempts with this robo-writer, all with similar wrong results. The similarity in the writing of those attempts led me to believe the AI was simply using a pre-established template, which is not how artificial intelligence is supposed to work.
Now, a real writer—by that I mean a human—could get a pretty good idea of my background and my work by simply visiting my webpage (martinroyhill.com), which includes a lengthy biography. But even when I directed the AI to my website, it continued to regurgitate inaccurate information.
Which proves my point: As stupid as humankind is, we are still smarter than artificial intelligence. At least for now.