Writers are Jedi

Come August, my colleagues and I will be teaching the long-running “Basic Media Writing” course to a new batch of undergrads at Nanyang Technological University Singapore. Some will ask: “Why bother teaching writing when Gen AI can write better than humans?”

My response: Let me tell you about the Jedi.

In the Star Wars movies, the Jedi knights walked between the worlds of tradition and technology.

Luke Skywalker fought with a lightsaber while being able to pilot an advanced X-Wing spacecraft and handle the latest weapons. Darth Vader was a cyborg who had to constantly remind naysayers that the ancient Force was a real thing (they usually didn’t survive that “Force-ful” argument).

Even Jedi training was steeped in technology. In this image, Luke is training his parrying skills with the help of a seeker droid that shoots harmless lasers at him.

Like the Jedi, writers throughout history have been quick to embrace new technologies that help them to write better. Typewriters, word processors, tape recorders, MiniDiscs recorders, Google search, news databases… the list goes on. These days, I get ChatGPT to grammar-check every post that I write, including this one.

However, we writers know that technology is but a tool. The real power of writing resides in our minds, hearts and actions.

We write to move people, not just data. We engage with the real world as we assemble our thoughts and feelings. We then choose the words to convey feelings that no machine can feel.

A machine will write in perfect language, but it does not mean a word of what it writes.

As one who teaches both the art of writing and the science of Gen AI, I believe the next generation of Jedi writers are going to become more powerful and valuable in the coming age.

Most people will be content to let the machine write for them, but not the Jedi.

I can’t wait to show my new students the true power of writing that lies within them.

Original post on LinkedIn.