Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

A precarious relationship between AI, writing

Jane Hao

The role of artificial intelligence in writing has been a central concern amidst the development of AI. With its rapid evolution, there has been a lot of anxiety surrounding its implementation in the field. Many wonder whether we are improving our work or  robbing ourselves of the opportunity to grow in our skills. 

Relying too heavily on AI extensions that change how writing is formatted and alter word choice can lead to a stall in the development of the ability to word and format a piece of writing. I encourage students to strengthen their writing skills by learning through a collaborative writing process instead of using AI replacement. 

“In the English department, there’s this kind of anxiety that AI is going to replace some of these writing practices, even research practices that have historically been so fundamental to the humanities,” said Carey Maul, a UT graduate student teaching a course dedicated to both writing and AI and Automation. 

Students have already begun relying heavily on AI for writing-based assignments, and new developments in these programs may only continue to exacerbate its use. Since professors have been left to dictate the student-AI relationship in many of their classes without any guidelines, the message behind whether students should or should not use AI in their work is very inconsistent. 

“I wish that we as a society were built in a way that we could have more careful conversations about what to roll out when, but unfortunately, the way things are engineered now, tech companies just roll things out and then they’re ours to deal with now,” said Scott Graham, an associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing. 

Many of us are dependent on forms of automation like spell check when writing material.

“This is pretty rudimentary, but I’m a really bad typer. So, I would say I rely pretty heavily on things like AutoCorrect,” said Maul. 

However, writing skills begin to dwindle when technology replaces the words we put on paper. 

“Some people are very concerned about AI taking away from opportunities for students to learn how to write effectively, and that they’re worried that students may use it to shortcut the learning process,” said Graham. 

Instead of utilizing AI tools to improve and perfect the writing we do in college, students should engage in collaborative writing. Peer and professor feedback is a valuable and accessible way to grow your writing skills in a format that is direct and practical. It also helps in developing a personal voice that many AI tools can take away from. 

As students, we need to be aware of the long-term effects different forms of AI can have on the writing we produce. Writing skills are carefully developed and learned over time. The writing that has been built off of collaboration and trial and error is undoubtedly the strongest and most consistently improved. 

Meltzer is a writing and rhetoric freshman from San Antonio, Texas.

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