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Alissa at the apex: is AI a threat or tool in screenwriting?

Ron Lach
Campus Editor Alissa Van Dress voices her concerns about A.I. technology taking over the screenwriting job market.

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) has been a topic of discussion since science fiction shows such as “Twilight Zone” or dystopian literature like “1984” by George Orwell were released. Though it generally has a negative connotation, the world is not shying away from A.I.. More recently, it has become an everyday tool in classrooms and workspaces. So, who really predicted the prevalence of A.I.?

With its rise in everyday use, A.I. technology such as ChatGPT comes to the rescue for students who are stumped on assignments or too busy to complete their work. Straying away from academia, creative writers also have A.I. at their fingertips.

Does A.I. pose a threat or supply a tool to creative artists? Specifically, is A.I. used in screenwriting acceptable? If so, who has ownership of the work? Whose name would we see in the credits of a film? These questions and a mountain of more emerge, yet fail to engender a grounded answer. To unravel the gush of A.I. technology, returning to the root of this technology is essential.

Harvard University credits British scientist, Alan Turing, who hypothesized that “humans use available information…to solve problems and make decisions, so why can’t machines?”
Computers were advancing in the 1950s, during the “generation of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers” who frequently pondered “…the concept of artificial intelligence.” Despite revolutionary thinking, Turing’s ambitious hypothesis would not fully come to fruition until the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The A.I. generator called A.I. Screenwriter promotes artificial intelligence use for scripts and story outlines. It is similar to ChatGPT, however, is more specific to screenwriters. According to the website home page, “…you can easily brainstorm, structure, and write your story, all while getting valuable insights and suggestions from the A.I.”

This brings me to yet another question: does easy mean that it produces the best work? Certainly, it is very easy to generate a quick Google search and find these applications online. But doesn’t that take away from the reward one receives after the hard work that went into the project, especially when the project is creative and entirely the creator’s own masterpiece?

I could provide more research but instead, I will do what A.I. cannot: express my emotions. As a creative writer, I am absolutely torn. Somehow, A.I. is both a threat and a tool. The thought of having an abiotic factor perform the functions that only humans perform feels wrong.

Imagine if famous screenwriters such as Quentin Tarantino or William Goldman used A.I. – what if Shakespeare used A.I. in the 16th century? Would all of these famous writers still be regarded for their brilliance and creativity? Honestly, I think not. Their names wouldn’t have mattered and if they’d be regarded for anything, they’d be known for their A.I. knowledge as opposed to their developed talent.

If A.I. technology like the A.I. Screenwriter replaced creative writers, the quality of films would likely decline. Writing is so personal and emotional at times that it is inherently humane. Moreover, screenwriting puts the human perspective on the big screen. To switch that to a machine’s perspective would get boring so fast because A.I. lacks true, human resonance.

I like to think of creative writers as inventors. Can A.I. invent like creative writers? Possibly. However, it would not have the same personal touch that only humans can deliver. After all, A.I. is created by humans, so it inherits the limitations that humans have. It is out of our power to perfectly replicate humanness. A.I. is only a threat if we allow it to be a threat; it is only a tool if we allow it to be a tool. Therefore, it couldn’t possibly replace humanity, no matter how often it appears in mainstream media. Let’s hope people continue to rely on their distinct gifts that only humans possess.

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About the Contributor
Alissa Van Dress
Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor
Alissa Van Dress is a junior English major from Amherst, Ohio. She has a concentration in professional writing with minors in business, creative writing and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Previously, Alissa served as the copy editor at The Carroll News. In addition to her current role as campus editor, Alissa is a JCU football and basketball cheerleader, a writing consultant at the JCU Writing Center, works as a digital engagement ambassador for the JCU Carroll Fund, and serves on the visual arts committee for The Carroll Review. Also, she is honored to have co-founded the Theatre Club at John Carroll University. Other than writing, some of Alissa's favorite hobbies include musical theater, vocal performance, fashion, dance and cheerleading/acrobatics. After graduation, Alissa plans to write for children's entertainment.

To contact Alissa, email her at [email protected].

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