It is interesting that the medium that has the longest history of mechanical reproduction, printed word fiction, has the least dependence on the cult of personality, of some mystique of the creator.

Visual artists need to have some backstory - witness the blocks of text that accompany art exhibitions talking about the meaning of the materials and the ideological critique inherent in the use of colors. Film needs (or needed, I'm not so sure about today) film stars. YouTube influencers are selling an image of themselves. Musicians and singers have to be personalities even before they are talents.

As for novelists - has anyone ever cared what Stephen King thought about anything? I adore Neal Stephenson's fiction but I don't give the slightest damn what what he thinks about the Israel-Palestine Conflict, the latest police shooting of a minority, or transgender competitors in team sports. Simon Leys, in a review of a biography of Victor Hugo, questioned why write such a biography at all: "all you need to say about Victor Hugo is that for 30 years he looked at the sea and he wrote."

The fundamental fact about art and artistic creation is that works of art are books from the Library of Babel: possibilities for arrangements of words, pigment, sound, or pixels. In the past we have needed human beings to find them, and have, since the Romantic era, attributed special powers and insight to them. Now, with generative art and LLMs, the things themselves can be beautiful apart from creators.

Compare works of art to magic spells: the wizard finds the spell, but the spell is not the wizard. What the creators of ML systems have found is ways to automate magic.

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As for the novelists...both are true. There are some people who don't much care about what novelists have to say outside of their books AND Stephen King is a much beloved Twitter user that has 7.1 million followers (including myself). We LOVE hearing his thoughts outside of his work. He's witty, hilarious, and he posts pics of his corgi that are adorable. I haven't been using Twitter as of late and he is one of the few users I miss.

I've always loved to discover the inner worlds and personalities of writers.

It is true, fiction writers do have more access to mystery and intrigue but I see that changing as social media infiltrates further into our lives.

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The sitcom comparison paragraph was dead on. Appreciate your thoughts, well done!

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“The era of a spell of personality is now facing its biggest challenge yet in Large Language Models and Artificial Intelligence.”

Feels like this idea could be a post all its own, heck probably a book.

Great piece Sachin, you really tap into something here

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glad it resonated, definitely a lot to unpack there

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