LOIS WINSTON – Artificial Intelligence: Is it Time to Freak Out Yet?

USA Today and Amazon bestselling author Lois Winston began her award-winning writing career with Talk Gertie to Me, a humorous fish-out-of-water novel about a small-town girl going off to the big city and the mother who had other ideas. That was followed by the romantic suspense Love, Lies, and a Double Shot of Deception.

Then Lois’s writing segued into the world of amateur sleuths with her humorous Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, which Kirkus Reviews dubbed “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” The series now includes twelve novels and three novellas.

Lois has published twenty-one novels, five novellas, several short stories, one children’s chapter book, and one nonfiction book on writing.

Like it or not, AI is here to stay, and there is much to worry about. It’s one of the major sticking points in the writers’ strike, which is still ongoing as I write this, and which many predict will last through the summer. It’s scary to think that all of us writers can be replaced by a series of algorithms, and even scarier when you hear that those algorithms often get things wrong. I’m not sure what’s worse, AI that makes mistakes or AI that gets things so very right that they fool us humans in ways that can result in great harm.

Will writers become obsolete? Many are worried it’s only a matter of time. Why should publishers pay royalties when they can hire someone to sit at a keyboard to input a few parameters into an AI site, and a minute later, the computer starts churning out all the company’s upcoming titles? Think it can’t happen? The future is already here. I’ve heard that AI novels and nonfiction books are already showing up on Amazon and other e-tailer sites at an alarming rate. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Or not.

Rather than sit around worrying, I did a bit of experimenting recently and concluded that AI has a long way to go before it replicates my creativity or that of any author. That doesn’t mean any of us can breathe easy, but AI isn’t going to take over publishing tomorrow.

My experiment involved ChatGPT. I told it to write a manuscript in the style of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries by Lois Winston.

Artificial Intelligence is supposed to be able to analyze text and produce new work in the style of the author. My books are widely available online, both on my website and at various e-tailer sites. All include the first chapter of each book, the covers, and the back cover copy. Anyone who has never heard of me or my books can type in my name or the series name and readily find this information for the twelve books and three novellas in the series.

In less than a minute, ChatGPT started spitting out chapters for the book it decided to call Murder and Mayhem in the Crafting World. However, AI did an extremely poor job of analyzing my books. There were glaring errors in the first sentence, and it only got worse.

I write in first person. The ChatGPT-generated mystery was in third person. Not only did it get my protagonist’s occupation wrong, but it morphed her Shakespeare-quoting African Grey parrot into her uncle! How intelligent is artificial intelligence if it can’t even discern the difference between a parrot and a human? We’re not talking rocket science here.

Worst of all, ChatGPT didn’t come anywhere close to capturing my voice. My readers would know instantly that I didn’t write Murder and Mayhem in the Crafting World. I write humorous amateur sleuth mysteries. Anastasia is a Jersey girl with a Jersey girl’s outlook on life. Publisher’s Weekly compared her to Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon from Thirty Rock. Kirkus Reviews called her “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” The chapters that ChatGPT created were devoid of any humor. The writing was so dull it could be marketed as a non-pharmaceutical remedy for insomnia.

However, perhaps I was partly at fault. I had asked the AI to write a manuscript “in the style” of my series. So I decided to try again. This time I asked it to create a book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series by Lois Winston.

The result, A Deadly Yarn, was no better. ChatGPT did a terrible job of researching my series. Not only did it get my sleuth’s profession wrong a second time, but this book transformed Anastasia’s mother’s white Persian cat into another human. So not only can’t AI tell the difference between a parrot and a human. Apparently, it can’t tell the difference between domestic animals and humans.

Ralph, the parrot, appears within the first pages of the first book in the series. The cat doesn’t show up until Chapter Five, where she’s introduced as “Catherine the Great, my mother’s extremely corpulent white Persian cat.” Since ChatGPT scanned enough of the first book to pick up the cat’s name, how could it not figure out that a white Persian is a four-legged furry feline and not a human being?

There are three pets in the Pollack household, a parrot, a cat, and a dog. There’s an illustration of them on the page of each ebook on Amazon. I thought about trying a third experiment to see if ChatGPT would morph a French bulldog into another human but decided I had better things to do with my time.

Artificial intelligence is something to worry about. Silicon Valley and our government need to develop regulatory measures to prevent a real-life Battlestar Galactica or Wall-E from occurring. However, for now, I’m not going to worry about AI taking over my series. At least not yet. It’s still got a lot to learn about what goes on in my brain.

Post a comment for a chance to win one of several promo codes I’m giving away for a free download of either the audiobook version of Decoupage Can Be Deadly, the fourth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, or A Stitch to Die For, the fifth book in the series.

A Crafty Collage of Crime – An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 12

Wherever crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack goes, murder and mayhem follow. Her honeymoon is no exception. She and her new husband, photojournalist (and possible spy) Zachary Barnes, are enjoying a walk in the Tennessee woods when they stumble upon a body on the side of a creek. The dead man is the husband of one of the three sisters who own the winery and guest cottages where Anastasia and Zack are vacationing.

When the local sheriff sets his sights on the widow as the prime suspect, her sisters close ranks around her. The three siblings are true-crime junkies, and thanks to a podcaster who has produced an unauthorized series about her, Anastasia’s reputation for solving murders has preceded her to the bucolic hamlet. The sisters plead for her help finding the real killer as Anastasia learns more about the women and their business, a host of suspects emerge, including several relatives, a relentless land developer, and even the sisters themselves.

Meanwhile, Anastasia becomes obsessed with discovering the podcaster’s identity. Along with knowing about Anastasia’s life as a reluctant amateur sleuth, the podcaster has divulged details of Anastasia’s personal life. Someone has betrayed Anastasia’s trust, and she’s out to discover the identity of the culprit.

Craft project included.

Buy Links
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3NX6O13
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-crafty-collage-of-crime
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-crafty-collage-of-crime-lois-winston/1143442079?ean=2940161008225
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-crafty-collage-of-crime/id6448801378


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  1. Peg Roche

    Enjoyed your perspective, as always, Lois. Thanks! And thanks to you, George!

  2. Lois Winston

    Thanks, Gay! Think we’ll still be around when history looks back on AI? Or will all the history books be written by AI at that point? Scary thought!

  3. Gay Yellen

    Ah, the AI conundrum. Both quite useful and goosebump-scary. Guess we’ll have to wait to read the history books to see how it all turns out. Good post!

  4. Lois Winston

    Thanks, Carol! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  5. Carol L White

    Lois, I had wondered about AI, and your experience was eye opening–and a lot of fun to read! Love the non-pharmaceutical remedy for insomnia analogy!

    Happy writing!

  6. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    OMG, I’m so relieved. Thanks Lois, for bravely going where any author would be scared to go. I mean, seriously, what if the AI had done a better job? I’m not sure, but it would have been disturbing at the very least.
    I’m curious, though—what occupation did AI think Anastasia did?

    • Lois Winston

      Pam, in both versions AI made her a shop owner. I think AI has a very limited knowledge of cozy mysteries, probably based solely on Hallmark Mysteries. 😉

  7. Michael A. Black

    Welcome back, Lois, and thanks for tackling the AI dilemma. I also think the AI takeover is a bit overrated. Having worked with spellcheck since I started using a computer, I never cease to be amazed at just how many times it’s downright wrong. Granted, Spell check is a far cry from the AI of today, but maybe not. after reading your account, I don’t think it’ll ever replace human creativity. Goldie, my huge Persian cat agrees. He would be very miffed at being mistaken for a human.

    • Lois Winston

      LOL, Michael. I don’t thin Catherine the Great was all that thrilled, either!

  8. Lois Winston

    George, thanks so much for hosting me again!

    • George Cramer

      Glad to have you back. Thanks for tackling AI, something I fear.


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