Clams, Wagoneers, and Harings: Creativity Is Even More Important in an AI World

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

writing  |  Research and Analysis  |  Artificial Intelligence

shutterstock_2253379239Artificial Intelligence engines that generate text such as ChatGPT use large language models, which I like to think of as simply math applied to data (in this case text). These tools calculate the most likely next word to create sentences. When everyone is going predictable with AI, creative writing stands out!

Nifty writing without AI boredom

Think of the math deployed by AI as calculating the probabilities of what the next word in a string of words is likely to be. The AI will choose the one that makes the most sense. However, great writers know that choosing an unusual word, a poignant word, the word that can tell a unique story, is so much more valuable than the obvious word.

I like to read obituaries. When well written, a great obituary tells the story of a person’s life in a way that I feel like I got to know a little about the person’s essence.

Newspapers are already using AI to write obituaries. They plug a person’s life data like birth date, death date, spouse name, schools attended, children, locations lived and so on. Presto! A serviceable obituary.

But who wants a serviceable obituary to tell the story of their life?

I was reading about Gary Roy Sheffer in the (print) Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror. Gary died on December 19, 2022, and somebody lovingly wrote an obituary that helps to tell his story. It’s memorable. It’s not generated by AI.

Here are two passages I love:

“Gary had a penchant for Jeep Grand Cherokee Wagoneers with wood paneling and mechanical problems. Anyone who cared to look in the center console would be sure to find more than a few miniature Snickers bars, his emergency snack for long fishing expeditions.”

And this.

“Gary harvested clams for his famous clam chowder that took him all day to make because he insisted on chopping the clams and potatoes into 1-centimeter cubes.”

I feel I know Gary even though I never met him. An AI generated just the facts obituary wouldn’t have done the gentleman justice.

The invention of photography launched new ways to paint

Just like writers today, I imagine that painters freaked out when photography was invented. Would their skills still be valuable when a scene could be captured perfectly?

The answer, of course, is yes. Keith Haring told stories with his art. It wasn’t a photograph. Millions of artists thrived since photography was invented.

The same is true of writing in an AI world.

We need writers and painters and filmmakers and other artists more than ever to show us about life.

David Meerman Scott speaking live