Earn less but get help from AI: The writer’s choice?

Writers are willing to accept lower pay when using AI to help with their work, researchers find. — AFP Relaxnews

The rise of generative artificial intelligence is raising well-founded concerns about the future of professional writers. Some may fear that this technology will have an impact on their working conditions and status. But others see AI as a genuine aid, for which they are prepared to make certain sacrifices.

So suggest the findings of a study recently presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Its authors set out to determine how writers view artificial intelligence in the context of their work.

“We were curious about how generative AI can contribute to the creation process, and if it can make work easier for the worker,” study coauthor, Chen Liang of the University of Connecticut, told New Scientist.

To do this, Chen and colleagues conducted an experiment involving 379 volunteers. They asked them to write a 200-250 word text – either an argumentative essay or a fictional story – in 45 minutes. Participants could choose between three methods of writing: independently, without help from ChatGPT; in “human primary” mode, ie, with ChatGPT's help to edit and refine their text; or in “AI primary” mode, ie, by editing ChatGPT's first draft.

If they decided to write their text without the help of AI, the authors earned US$3. They earned less if they used ChatGPT to help them. It turns out that many participants chose to use generative artificial intelligence to write, even if it meant earning less.

Specifically, volunteers were willing to forgo around US$0.85 – or 28.3% of the total amount they would have received – in order to have ChatGPT write a first draft of their text.

“Our results show that people are willing to forgo financial payments to receive writing assistance, especially if AI can provide direct content generation assistance and the writing task is highly creative,” the researchers note in their paper.

Does this mean that human literary creation is doomed to disappear? Not necessarily. Generative artificial intelligence can make writing more accessible, enabling anyone to become a writer.

However, writing professionals fear that their work will stand out less from the mass of texts produced by AI, and that their work will be more difficult to monetise. This could make an already troubled industry even more financially perilous. – AFP Relaxnews


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