We’re all dinosaurs and the asteroid is already in sight
Let’s get right to it. According to a report by the Europol Innovation Lab that leverages other books and articles, “Experts estimate that as much as 90% of online content may be synthetically generated by 2026. Synthetic media refers to media generated or manipulated using artificial intelligence (AI).”
The focus of the report is for law enforcement in regards to the rise of deepfake technology: “Today, threat actors are using disinformation campaigns and deepfake content to misinform the public about events, to influence politics and elections, to contribute to fraud, and to manipulate shareholders in a corporate context.”
However, since I’m a self-involved individual that has everything he could ever want at home but still goes online to try to garner the love and approval of digital strangers, I immediately thought of what it means for me and those of my ilk.
Why do we write on websites for free or marginal paychecks? Why do we post on social media? It takes a great deal of time and effort. Even as I write this, I could be doing something — anything — else that would be a better use of my time. If you were to break it down per hour, my writing would be considered indentured servitude. So why do we do all of this? Of course, I do it because I actually love it. Or, more accurately, I have a compulsion to do it. The one thing writers can’t do is not write is a maxim I heard once that I think is very true.
In total honesty, though, we do it so that people can read our stuff. Otherwise, we’d just put it in a journal or even think about it and maybe mention it to the person that shares our bed.
We write because we want people to read our writing.
With all of the competition online (and every terrible writer thinking they’re a great one), it’s easier than every to publish and harder than ever to get noticed. It’s a deadly combination that, apparently, will only get exponentially worse in the coming years.
All writers simultaneously love and hate writing, but the existential questioning ratchets up when you work on something for a long time and, for whatever reason, it struggles to reach double-digit views.
I’ve spent days, even weeks, on pieces that I thought were spectacular that were met with crickets. Thinking about, researching, writing, and rewriting a thousand words that gets nine clicks and zero reads? Maybe I should give up and let AI take over.
After all, some of my favorite writers have either completely stopped or severely curtailed their output because real life intervened. At twenty-five, being a broke but well-respected magazine or website writer is admirable; at forty, it’s regrettable. Unless you’re part of a very select group, online writing will not raise you into the next tax bracket. You don’t have food to put on the table. Hell, you don’t even have a table to put it on.
Trust me. This is a loss leader for me.
So even if the future is an online world in which an AI app reads something written by a different AI app, I’ll probably still keep writing and shouting into the void.
It won’t be any different from how it’s been for the past decade anyway.
Christopher Pierznik is the worst-selling author of nine books. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Connect on Facebook or Twitter. Please feel free to get in touch at CPierznik99@gmail.com.