I think this is the difference between replacing cashiers with self-checkout and replacing writers/artists with AI. And I say this as someone who has done both jobs! I was a cashier for years. I hated that job SO MUCH. I would have been thrilled to be replaced by a bot and go on unemployment. I was thrilled when the store I worked for closed and I went on unemployment. Sure, I somehow made even less money that the pathetic sum I was getting before, but it was so much better for my mental health!

You're right - humans want to make things. We have an inherent desire to make art or literature or great TV or funny memes or whatever. We don't have an inherent desire to be screamed at by a Karen about shit we can't control.

Expand full comment

this is such a good comment I added a line to this effect. Thank you, you're so right.

Expand full comment

Thank you, I'm glad to hear you agree. I didn't even realize how horrible that job was for my mental health until I got the news the store was closing. I was SO RELIEVED (despite needing the money).

The other thing I've noticed is that it's a very interesting time to be a freelance writer. Maybe you've noticed this as well - some clients want to dump us in favor of ChatGPT, while others specifically don't want AI-generated content. I have one client who makes me run everything I write through a program to ensure it isn't written by an AI (it needs to have a probability of less than 35%, and no one, seriously no one, knows what criteria this thing is using, so that's fun). The rationale for this is that search engines will ding the SEO score for sites that have a lot of bot-written content. I have another client who I haven't heard from in a while, but the last time I checked in it appeared that they were generating all their content through ChatGPT, so good luck with that, I guess. Fortunately I wasn't making a whole lot of money from that client anyway. I do wonder if he knows that the bot-written content will tank his SEO scores, but bringing that to his attention is of course above my pay grade. :)

Expand full comment

well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Expand full comment

Great Googly Moogly, I can't believe how good this article was. I loved how you kept coming up with more and more creative derogatory names for ChatGPT. If you keep writing stuff that's this great, I may be compelled to throw money at you.

Expand full comment

I'll work on it. ;)

Expand full comment

Fucking PREACH!!! (appreciate the whole damned post) And yeah, I'm still going to finish those -15 novels- I have outlined because I have to. Fuck the machine

Expand full comment

Thank you. You reached me.

Expand full comment

I'm going to burst into La Marseillaise or something.

Thanks, from the depths of my still-extant soul.

Expand full comment

Yep. All of this.

Meanwhile, the latest books I've formatted, and from here on (I can do this as a selfpub author) are all getting this statement on the copyright page "No generative AI has been used in the conceptualization, development, or creation of this work."

And you can just bet that from here on any cover letter I send out with a short story is going to carry that label as well.

That said, Microsoft is incorporating an AI into Word, damn it. Even my standalone, non-subscription version from 2019. But I'm not using it and have no intention of using it.

Expand full comment

Thank you for sharing the article Catherynne. YES, You're absolutely right MOST humans want to make things and are very kind. I have lived by the motto the more you can help people without expecting any material gain you get the return in other way, sometimes 1000 times more, its my positive karma. In many cases I have been fired for my thoughts on this. An example is when I management distribution facilities that were based in the Midwest and south east of the USA, sometimes people would call me for some advice and were based on the West coast. My boss at that time would yell hang up we dont have business out there, curse me out. I would tell him its a great way to grow a company brand & help folks. I am considered a subject matter expert in logistics and helping others has paid me other dividends in many ways. My private business network has over 6 million active contacts worldwide-(most are not on any social media platform). I still work as a free consultant to help people if laid off, fired, or in a job search and love helping people. Been doing this for 25 years and I am happy and here to help.

Many of my contacts besides living in the USA are based in the UK. The folks there share many of your feelings if you get to know some of the producers, writers of the BBC. They cannot share the feedback in any forum for risk of punishment, just look at how some folks/actors have been treated in the long running Dr. WHO series.

Best regards,

Bill Stankiewicz

Professor FORKLIFT SAFETY TRAINING/OSHA/ VR Virtual Reality Training


Savannah Supply Chain-CEO

Office: 1.404.750.3200




Expand full comment




Optimus Primer



Buzz Writeyear


Textbox of Doom

Did I miss any? Fantastic, correct and wonderfully human. So relieved that somewhere out there there are those who see this new shiny thing as I do - no, in fact much more deeply and thoughtfully than I. Catherynne, if you worried at any moment or in any way that you were either under or over doing the conveyance of the point, please fear not. To date, the single best piece written on this whole thing IMHO. We can't stop it, let it run until it settles into an equilibrium somewhere in between the hyper/optimistic and hipo/pessimistic forecasts. Meantime, we keep on publishing, coding and thinking like the error-prone yet relentlessly persistent 'fleshjars' that we are. The heat-death of the universe will get us soon enough anyway.

Expand full comment

In 2014, one of the first indie ebooks I ever read (a techno-thriller sci-fi debut book) completely blew me away on this topic. Like you addressed, the author posed that there would eventually be two societies: the one who went along with AI and the ones who preferred to create and live outside it. (It also predicted the disaster of self-driven cars...but I digress.)

As I consumed one indie book after another, I realized that I tremendously enjoyed the real-life thoughts and expressions of real people versus the "canned" mainstream offerings. For the past 7 years I've been reading 95% indie books only and been an indie book blogger because I prefer the real rawness of indie and its freedom to mix multiple genres together (sometimes as many as 5 or 6) to express unique, character driven stories rather than what mainstream has deemed "appropriate."

When people were lauding The Kiss Quotient (which is a fairly decent mainstream, to be fair), I knew I had been already reading even better versions of it 3-4 years earlier in the indie sphere.

So, to your point, humans are going to human (i.e., create--in whatever form that is). The techno-thriller (Logging Off by Caitlin McKenna (https://amzn.to/3ZdRQGJ), if you're curious), mentions that the people who chose AI was because they decided that they really didn't want to think. They were happy passing all thinking tasks off to the AI. "AI what would be the most nutritionally right thing to eat today?"

And that's what we're talking about. "AI write the 'perfect' cover letter or email or book or whatever that will get me the prize I want without studying how to do it or working on the task."

When you hand over the task, it doesn't improve you or become a skill set you added to you. In the end, that doesn't add any value to you personally.

So, I agree. Now is the time to do art even more humanly.

Write, read, draw, dance, paint with all the possible non-digital imaginations we've got!

Humans are analog. Let's not forget it.


Expand full comment

That was amazing. Thank you. My only problem is that picking out a section to respond to makes it seem like I'm slighting the ones I'm not.

Expand full comment

Hm. I... don't generally feel connections to writers when I read their work. I can't really recall it happening, truth be told, so I can't speak on the matter of human connection through art. And as much as I'd love a comfortable post-work society, I can only give a dry, cynical laugh at the idea of us achieving that in a way that isn't somehow even worse than the current one.

If it's worth anything, I generally avoid "AI" "art," partly just on the grounds that it sucks. Sure, I can get a bunch of anime girl pictures in a few minutes, but have you seen them? Ugh. What I can't do is investigate every game I buy online to see if it used any kind of learning machines, because they sure as hell won't volunteer that information unless they're legally required to, and if they are then they'll probably lie.

I'm not gonna advocate a revolution. Those never end well. An "enlightened" society will not emerge from a bunch of flaming wreckage. I do, however, kind of hope that all billionaires ever will suffer slow, painful, horrible deaths that make them beg for the mercy of the guillotine, only to be denied. S'all I got at this point.

Expand full comment

I’m out of a job, but I upgraded to paid after this post. Thank you.

A good read from another aspect ofvthis struggle is the wonderful profile of the no-fucks-given Emily Bender in the Intelligencer today. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/ai-artificial-intelligence-chatbots-emily-m-bender.html

Expand full comment

Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me. I hope you find new and fulfilling work soon.

Expand full comment

I just emerged from typing on my old manual Olympia typewriter and stumbled upon your work (via Cory Doctorow). Thank you for firing up my synapses!

Expand full comment

love this. look forward to the spectacular typhoon of art. I came back to reread this after listening to the latest episode of my favourite podcast. How the history of myth and magic can tell us some things about the deeper drives towards creating AI. Being able to conjure. it is a long but beautiful listen.


Expand full comment

Just chiming in to say thank you for writing this, for putting your passion and madness out there for us to perceive and to forge those connections, fleshjar to fellow fleshjar. You made me laugh and hope and what more can we really desire of our words? Art for art’s sake, the rules are made up—so let us be as weird and vulnerable as we need, deeply, desperately, to be.

Expand full comment

Oh my, what an astonishingly wonderful article! I was really hoping I wouldn't get to the end and learn it had been "written" by AI. Thank you!

Expand full comment