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  • Writer's pictureJeff Kerr

The AI Bogeyman

AI, or artificial intelligence, is not coming, it’s here. The monster is loose among us, wreaking havoc, destroying careers, rendering us creators as useless as one of those fancy notebooks your aunt gave you for your birthday. Our only option now is to run screaming through the streets, tearing our hair out and wondering how much we can get for that notebook on eBay. Except for me, it’s too late even for that, as my hair took a sabbatical 20 years ago and has seen fit not to come back.

A few months ago, I stumbled onto a free trial of an AI site that promised to help authors refine their work. You could type a word or a phrase, hit enter, and receive as many suggested alternatives as you want. After playing around with it I concluded it might be a useful tool, but only as an electronic thesaurus. Even in this role, the results were hit-and-miss.

Daily on social media, I see AI-generated images being used to attract attention. Although posted by different users, the images have a certain sameness to them. They remind me of CGI in action movies, eye-catching, perhaps, but just unrealistic enough to be unsatisfying.

Not long ago I was watching a street musician perform when my mind wandered to AI-generated music. I realized that because I found the guitarist’s performance engaging, I was willing to postpone my errands and listen. But what if that same music had been coming from a speaker attached to a computer being manipulated by an AI expert? Would I have stopped? No. Why not? Because in addition to listening to the pleasing sound of the guitarist’s music, I was able to watch the fingers of his left hand work the fretboard, see the fingers of his right hand dance across the strings, and smile at the sight of the music’s influence on his facial expressions. I marveled at the years of practice behind his skill and applauded him for having the nerve to share that skill in public. I would no more applaud a piece of AI music than I would my washing machine.

author jeff kerr

Lest you think me a Luddite, let me say that I do believe AI will prove useful in many endeavors, even artistic ones. I just don’t think it will replace our desire to enjoy the artistic creations of our fellow humans. In my opinion, AI will prove to be a tool to achieve an end but will not become the end itself. Call me naïve, but I believe there will always be an audience for the artist, for the musician, for the novelist. So, I won’t run screaming through the streets just yet. I’ll keep right on writing and assume the best. And if I’m really lucky, not only will people read my books, my hair will come back too.

action thriller

Refuge is Coming July 17th!

Where do you go when no place is safe?

Born in El Salvador, raised in the United States, Miranda Flores is American to her core. Educated as well as street-smart, she makes close friends in her New Mexico community. But when nativist President Malcolm Price mandates subcutaneous identity chips in members of certain ethnic groups, the Flores family returns to the land of Miranda’s birth.

Years later, after losing her parents and brother during a bloody civil war in El Salvador, Miranda sneaks back into the U.S. There she encounters a country she no longer recognizes, with border “kill zones,” concentration camps, and roaming bands of paramilitary “Red Caps.” With a murderous government agent hot on her trail, Miranda must flee through a hostile landscape where every person she meets is a potential enemy.

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