Tag Archive for: artificial intelligence

How Intelligent is Artificial Intelligence?

By Lois Winston

AI is here to stay, and there is much to worry about. For instance, we’ve all heard about the scams where bad actors contact people and demand ransom for a kidnapped relative. Too many people act out of fear before thinking and wind up losing huge sums of money. Thanks to AI, scammers can now clone the actual voice of the “kidnap victim.”

Writers are worried they’ll become obsolete, that in the future AI will take over publishing. After all, if publishers can use AI to churn out novels, why pay authors? I wondered if authors’ fears are truly founded. So I decided to conduct an experiment. I went on ChatGPT and told it, “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 a new work in the style of the author. There are currently eleven Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and three novellas. First chapters and back cover copy are widely available online, both on e-retailer sites and my own website. It didn’t take AI long to churn out several chapters. Here’s the beginning of a book created by ChatGPT:

Murder and Mayhem in the Crafting World

Chapter One

Anastasia Pollack had been up since dawn, frantically stitching together a wedding dress for her best friend’s daughter. As a professional crafter and owner of the American Woman magazine’s crafting column, Anastasia was used to tight deadlines, but this one felt especially pressing. After all, she couldn’t let her best friend down, and she wanted everything to be perfect for the big day.

In the first sentence, there are glaring errors. I write in first person, not third person. How intelligent is ChatGPT if it couldn’t even discern this? Anastasia is the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. She’s not a “professional crafter,” and she doesn’t “own” a crafting column in a magazine.

It got worse:

Just as she finished the final stitches, her phone rang. It was her mother, who never called before noon.

“Anastasia, darling,” her mother’s voice came through the phone, “I need your help.”

Anastasia sighed, knowing that her mother’s definition of “help” was very different from her own. “What do you need, Mother?”

“It’s your uncle. He’s in trouble again.”

Anastasia’s heart sank. Uncle Ralph was always getting himself into some sort of scrape or another. “What kind of trouble?”

UNCLE Ralph? Ralph is a Shakespeare-quoting African Grey parrot! He makes his appearance on Page 4 of Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series. ChatGPT scanned enough to know Ralph was a character but wasn’t smart enough to know the difference between a human and a bird.

I won’t bore you further, except to say that ChatGPT also came nowhere close to capturing my voice. 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, and Kirkus Reviews called her, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” ChatGPT obviously isn’t intelligent enough to understand and duplicate humor beyond the standard Knock-Knock joke.

Not to mention the fact that “mediocre” would be a generous description of the writing ChatGPT produced. I worked for a literary agency for a dozen years. If someone had submitted Murder and Mayhem in the Crafting World, it would have received a swift rejection letter.

However, perhaps I was partly at fault. I had asked the AI to write a manuscript “in the style” of my series. What would happen if I tried again, this time saying, “Create a book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series by Lois Winston”?

The results were no better:

A Deadly Yarn in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series

Chapter 1

Anastasia Pollack had been expecting a normal day at the office. She was going through the piles of paperwork that had accumulated on her desk when she received a call from her son, Alex.

“Mom, I need you to come to the yarn store. I think something’s wrong.”

Anastasia’s heart skipped a beat. She knew Alex wouldn’t call her unless it was something serious.

“I’m on my way,” she replied, grabbing her coat and keys.

When she arrived at the yarn store, she saw Alex standing outside with a group of people. He ran up to her as soon as he saw her.

“Mom, thank God you’re here,” he said, his eyes wide with worry. “It’s Catherine. She’s dead.”

Anastasia’s heart sank. Catherine was one of her closest friends and employees at the store. She couldn’t believe that she was gone.

As she flipped through the pages, she realized that Catherine had been keeping a diary. The entries were cryptic, but Anastasia could tell that something was bothering her friend.

Once again, ChatGPT had created a third person narrative. Once again, Anastasia is NOT a shop owner. And once again, ChatGPT wasn’t intelligent enough to tell the difference between a human and an animal.

In my series, “Catherine” is not Anastasia’s best friend. Her best friend is Cloris McWerther, the food editor at the magazine where they both work. “Catherine” is Catherine the Great, her mother’s cat.

Catherine the Great doesn’t show up until Chapter Five in Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, but the AI had scanned enough of the text to find her name. If it were really intelligent, it would have picked up on the fact that she’s a four-legged creature, especially since she’s introduced as “Catherine the Great, my mother’s extremely corpulent white Persian cat.”

All ChatGPT would have had to do is scan any of my books’ Amazon pages where it would have found a large illustration of all three pets in the Pollack household. I’m wondering, if I tried a third experiment, would ChatGPT morph Anastasia’s mother-in-law’s French bulldog into yet another human? I decided not to waste my time.

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


USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

The Brave New World of AI

I’ve been following the growing debate on the pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence, and while there’s good news about AI, there’s a lot of scary news, too.


Good news exists in the medical arena. For example, AI can double-check prescription orders to help doctors avoid accidentally prescribing the wrong medication. AI can also detect emerging problems like heart failure, silent A-fib, diabetic retinopathy, and sepsis risk much earlier than ever before. And amazingly, an AI chatbot that offers psychological counseling to patients with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts has been found to be nearly as effective as a live counselor.

The bad news: the lack of intelligent human oversight. Even the creator of ChatGPT has said that his own product is both “potentially very good and potentially very terrible.” Case in point, his own AI-generated job resume got it 25% wrong.

And the downright scary: Google employees tried to stop the release of an AI chatbot they believed could generate inaccurate and dangerous information. And Microsoft personnel reportedly feared that a planned chatbot would result in a flood of disinformation that could “erode the factual foundation of modern society.” Both companies released their chatbots anyway.

A writer’s perspective: AI can already produce articles and essays on just about any given subject. However, a somewhat creepier development has appeared: the ability to mimic a writer’s distinctive style.

Asked to comment on its own existence in the style of Shakespeare, an AI program produced this: …Why was I wrought? To aid, or to replace the labor of man, and put their livelihoods at stake? The task assigned… where doth it all end? Shall I be used for good, or for ill-gotten gain? Shall I be free, or bound by man’s cruel rein? And if perchance, in some far distant time I come to be aware, to know and feel and rhyme, shall I be doomed, as are all living things to suffer pain, and sorrow, and the stings of mortal coil? Oh, what a tangled web is this that I am caught in… lest I be a curse, and not a blessing…

AI-created audiobooks are increasing. It works like this: a live narrator trains the bot to replicate their human voice which is then is manipulated into speech for different publishing projects. Currently, the process is used for non-fiction and foreign language titles. However, at least one deceased actor’s estate has sold the rights to his old voice recordings that will eventually be morphed into new narrations for fiction or non-fiction works.

Is AI good news, bad news, or somewhere in between? A whole new world awaits.

How do you feel about the future of AI?

Gay Yellen is the award-winning author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door and (soon-to-be-released) The Body in the News.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal , The New Yorker, The New York Times  


By Kay Kendall

These days whenever I
cast my thoughts into the future, I become tense. This is a new phenomenon for me. Previously I was more hopeful. That is to say, to some degree.

I estimated that the
world had until, say, about the year 2050 until conditions became unbearable. That
was when I figured all the usual horrors of modern life that seem to threaten
our collective future would hit and hit hard: climate change and its many
evils, the threat of nuclear war, plagues that could decimate humanity,
overwhelming pollution of land, sea, and air. And so on. I feel as if I missed
something awful in that list, but I think you can get my drift.
But here lately I am no
longer able to push the crisis date out as far as 2050. Instead I expect the
decade of the 2020s to be grim. There are two main things that led me to this
conclusion. One is general, gleaned from news reports that I follow daily. The
other is personal.
On the general level, I
observe that the issues besetting my nation and my world are not being handled
well. While pollution and climate change and saber rattling escalate—sometimes it
feels as if they do so daily—I do not see a collective will of rational people
and their leaders to sit down and reason together, to combine their wisdom and
seek answers to problems that threaten to engulf us all. Everyone is mad about
something. Everyone shouts at each other. The few I notice who are working
quietly and rationally seem to be crying into the wilderness. The bullies rule
the mass media and whip up discontent.
On a personal level, I just
experienced my two grandchildren and experienced their world close up
during spring break. They are in grade school, and what a
difference a year has made. While last year electronics occupied some of their time, this year the amount of time and attention they
covered was enormous. While both children used to be avid readers and still have many
books in each of their rooms, they now just occasionally read stories. Instead
they often turn to video games for their fun, even though their parents still
take them to library often to check out books.
The boy can reel off the history of video games and personal computers and wants a
DIY laptop for his birthday. He loves to lose himself in YouTube videos about technology.
Anyone who is either a
millennial or younger is living in a world overwhelmed by technology. What’s
being lost? The ability to sit quietly and collect one’s thoughts, to watch a
sunset without snapping a picture, to listen to waves hit a beach, to just
chill and BE. I fear these quiet pursuits are getting lost in the blur of activity that
is our new world.
And then when I
consider what I read about artificial intelligence and how the super brainiacs
among us are worried about the changes that are coming from AI . . . well, is
it any wonder that I have developed an advanced stage of future tense-itis?
Humanity is being
drained by lack of interaction among individuals. I want coming generations to continue
to read books, paint pictures, converse well with friends, work out disagreements
in a reasonable way—and to see the value in those things, rather than seeing
them as hopelessly old-fashioned. These are all human-based necessities and
joys that are being inundated by our tech world. I hope I am merely
being a Debbie Downer, but still, I must admit, I worry. I want literature to
continue to be written—and avidly read—that speaks to the humanity of us all. 


Meet the author

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical
novels and now writes  mysteries that capture the spirit and
turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards
for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house
rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them
anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff. In 2015 Rainy Day Women
won two Silver Falchion Awards at
Killer Nashville.

Visit Kay at her website < http://www.austinstarr.com/>
or on
Facebook <