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It's not about subtracting humans, it's about multiplying stories :)

Attention: This text was written by a human being :)

Resuming this column here after a mental break and the year-end and carnival pauses (yes, I enjoy carnival and parade in a samba school). For the first article of 2023, I think it's worth discussing a little about what I've been reflecting on regarding all the discussions, speculations, developments, and facts surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Everyone has surely heard about ChatGPT; during last Sunday's lunch, my stepfather hardly talked to us because he was conversing with it. Regardless of the level of interaction with these new AIs, the fact is that this topic has been dominating conversations in various circles – from the curious who find it fascinating to ask a question that a machine answers, to internet and technology experts expressing their opinions – and reservations – about the exponential growth of these tools.

Shortly before sitting down to write this text, I read in The News newsletter that "Over 1100 tech sector experts and leaders—including Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniack—signed an open letter calling for an immediate 6-month halt in the development of advanced artificial intelligences." This concern stems from the rapid advancement – and as far as they perceive it – the lack of control and regulation over these tools.

It's a fact that since the beginning of 2023, this topic has gained momentum and size, and advancements seem to be following a Geometric Progression. The feeling is that we're entering a period where this will become increasingly exponential.

I want to exclude two scenarios from this discussion, which I don't think are useful at this moment to discuss how we, in the storytelling industry, can navigate. The first is companies and individuals who seize this moment to start claiming that their business is already perfectly operating with AI and that they are at the forefront of technology – somewhat like brands that do nothing for diversity all year and then put the LGBTQIA+ flag on their Instagram logo during Pride Week. The second is the doomsayers who immediately respond to these news pieces with dystopian scenarios that mix "I, Robot" with any other film where humanity becomes slave and servant to machines... not that I doubt that if technology isn't well-directed, we might reach a critical point in the future, but it's not the topic for now.

Returning to what matters: how can the content industry – at least begin to explore, even for the most skeptical, the use and benefits of Artificial Intelligence for the sake of stories, distribution, production, and the enhancement of our market.

So, let's begin with the topic, using the title of my article: it's not about subtracting humans, it's about multiplying stories. This is what I believe in our context. We're not discussing a scenario where humans are removed from the equation, but rather a scenario where technology multiplies possibilities.

Imagine a small content producer, a book publisher, or a podcast production company, for example. Sometimes, a single person, or at most two or three, has to do everything: curate content, negotiate contracts, manage social media, create press releases, produce covers and marketing materials, handle sales and distribution channels, and so on. Don't you think that in this case, AI can help a lot by automating some of these processes? Note that this isn't about having a publisher that's 100% controlled by machines, a "BookGPT," but rather about enhancing the myriad tasks that a company needs to perform every day.

As Benoit Dubois (head of the Association of Publishers in Belgium) said in an interview I read yesterday: "ChatGPT can bring relief and efficiency to small publishers overwhelmed by the need to write their press releases, cover summaries, and everything about their catalog. You need to learn to live with it instead of pretending it simply doesn't exist."

Now, imagine a large production company or publisher with many IPs available to be adapted into audio content. Due to many of these being part of the backlist (older content that's not part of new releases, but still has an audience), they don't become a priority and might lack a return on investment that justifies transforming them into an audio product. In this case, with significantly less investment – and it's important to note, still restricted to non-fiction content – you can quickly make this content available in audio format for sale and consumption. This is good for authors and creators who gain an additional format for their stories, good for publishers and producers who acquire a new revenue stream, and even better for listeners, who now have a growing and robust catalog of content to choose from and listen to.

More than a perspective of denying the occurrence of these technologies or pretending they don't exist – I must tell you that your resistance has no effect – or more than assuming a paralyzing apocalyptic stance with dystopian scenarios, we need to use our full humanity to understand and be creative – remember that ChatGPT isn't creating, it's organizing existing information – about how, where, and why we can incorporate these technologies into our daily lives and benefit from them.

Once again, it's not about subtracting humans from this equation, but rather offering these same humans tools that amplify their work and bring even more content to the vast number of flesh-and-blood individuals who love and will always love a good story.

Don't be afraid, everything will be fine :)


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