It’s old news, but I just came across it . . . ChatGPT.
“What is it?”
You didn’t click on the link, did you? It’s about an AI tool that will answer questions, but you can also ask it to write prose.
Here’s the first prompt I gave it and what it spat out (in under 10 seconds):
Prompt: Write an argument between twins, Perry and Gary, about who’s the better writer.
Perry: I can’t believe you think you’re a better writer than me. Have you even read the story I wrote for the school contest? It won first place.
Gary: Yeah, but that was just one contest. You don’t have a consistent track record of producing high-quality writing like I do.
Perry: Are you kidding me? I may not have as many published pieces as you, but that doesn’t mean my writing isn’t just as good. I put a lot of thought and effort into every piece I write.
Gary: I’m not saying that your writing isn’t good, Perry. But I think I have a better understanding of the mechanics of writing and a more developed writing style.
Perry: That may be true, but I have a more creative and unique approach to my writing. I’m not just regurgitating the same old ideas and tropes that every other writer uses.
Gary: I think it’s important to have a strong understanding of the basics of writing in order to effectively convey your ideas. And while creativity is certainly important, it’s not the only factor that makes a good writer.
Perry: I disagree. Writing is an art, and good writing should be able to engage and captivate the reader. It’s not just about following a set of rules and guidelines.
Gary: I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Both of our writing has its own strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately it’s up to the reader to decide which one of us is the better writer.
OK, so, that sounds a bit like them . . . minus the insults and vulgar name-calling. I then tried a modified version of the prompt:
Prompt: Write a contentious argument between twins, Perry and Gary, about who’s the better writer. Include insults.
Perry: You think you’re a better writer than me? Please, Gary, you couldn’t string together a coherent sentence if your life depended on it.
Gary: Oh, and I suppose you’re the next Shakespeare? Your writing is so dull and unoriginal, it’s like reading a textbook.
Perry: At least my writing isn’t filled with cliches and hackneyed ideas like yours. You’re just a one-trick pony, repeating the same tired themes over and over again.
Gary: That’s rich coming from you, Perry. Your writing is so predictable and formulaic, it’s like you’re afraid to take any risks or push the boundaries.
Perry: At least I have some measure of talent and skill. Your writing is just a collection of half-baked ideas and poorly executed concepts.
Gary: You know what, Perry? You can talk all you want, but in the end, it’s the quality of the writing that matters. And I think it’s pretty clear who the better writer is here.
Perry: Oh, please. You may have a few fans who think your writing is decent, but I have actual awards and recognition for my work. That’s the true measure of a writer’s talent and ability.
Gary: Awards and recognition don’t mean anything if the writing itself is lacking. In the end, it’s the reader who decides who the better writer is, and I have no doubt that they will see through your empty boasts and recognize my superior writing.
Perry: We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one, Gary. But just remember, when it comes to writing, I will always be one step ahead of you.
A little better, but still no deeply offensive language.
That’s because the tool has limits in place; no offensive language, no violence, no insulting vulgarities, etc. … In other words, the tool as is won’t even come close to one of their actual conversations. In ChatGPT’s defense, the AI has no idea who Gary and Perry are.
The AI could do a much better job if it could “learn” about them by reading some of their actual exchanges . . . because that’s how the Ai ‘learns’.
Nota Bene: in actuality, it’s banter between twins who are close enough to go to a level that would make other people’s eyes water. Occasionally, I also partake, but I can’t quite bring myself to match their take-down brio.
Just to be fair, I asked the AI to write what a review of my writing by the Twins and their fans might look like.
Prompt: Give feedback to a writer named Emilio for his milquetoasty and simplistic writing. Be blunt.
I have read your writing, and I must say that I am not impressed. Your writing is milquetoasty and simplistic, lacking any depth or complexity.
Your characters and plot are shallow and predictable, and your writing lacks originality and creativity. You rely heavily on cliches and stereotypes, and your dialogue is stilted and unconvincing.
In addition, your writing lacks a strong voice and style. Your sentences are choppy and lack flow, and your descriptions are vague and uninspired.
Overall, your writing needs a lot of work. I suggest doing more research and reading to gain a better understanding of different writing styles and techniques. Challenge yourself to push the boundaries and take risks with your writing, and try to develop a unique and distinctive voice.
I hope this feedback is helpful, and I wish you the best of luck in your writing endeavors.
That’s not too bad, except it did repeat a bit of the prompt back at me. For the rest, it pretty much nailed stuff I’ve heard before.
Mind you, that doesn’t bode well for me because I’ve done a lot of research on writing, which means it hasn’t helped much, as evident by my dismal performance in the voting rounds.
That’s very insightful . . . but, back to my testing the AI.
I wanted to see what it did with something I’m peripherally but not intimately familiar with.
Prompt: Write about the difficulties of cutting and sewing quilting blocks
Quilting is a rewarding and satisfying hobby, but it can also be challenging, especially when it comes to cutting and sewing the individual blocks that make up a quilt.
One of the biggest difficulties of cutting quilting blocks is achieving precise and accurate measurements. Quilting requires a high level of precision in order to ensure that the blocks fit together perfectly and the final quilt has a clean, professional look. This can be especially challenging for beginners, who may not have the necessary skills or experience to cut the fabric accurately.
Another difficulty is the time and effort that goes into cutting and sewing each individual block. Quilting is a time-consuming process, and cutting and sewing the blocks can take hours, especially if you’re working on a large or complex quilt. This can be frustrating, especially for those who are new to quilting and may not be used to the amount of work that goes into it.
In addition, sewing the blocks together can also be challenging. It’s important to ensure that the blocks are sewn together securely and evenly, so that the quilt maintains its shape and doesn’t fall apart. This requires a steady hand and a good eye for detail, which can be difficult for some people to achieve.
Overall, cutting and sewing quilting blocks can be a difficult and challenging process, but with practice and patience, it can also be incredibly rewarding. As with any skill, the more you do it, the better you’ll become, and the satisfaction of completing a beautiful quilt will make it all worth it in the end.
That’s actually pretty good, if a bit generic. It could have added that the direction you cut the fabric matters (with the grain, across the grain, or at an angle to it) matters. Also, the “sewn together securely” is an odd thing to say, and it’s unlikely the quilt would “fall apart”. Alignment when sewing would have been a better concern to mention. Still, as a generic passage, it’s not bad.
I was also curious if it could mimic something I might write . . .
Prompt: Write instructions about opening a jar in style of the Bible.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and with it, the mighty jar. And the jar was good.
But lo, there came a time when the jar was sealed shut, and its contents were hidden from the world. And the people did cry out in frustration, for they knew not how to open the jar.
But fear not, for I have come to show you the way.
First, take the jar in your hand, and hold it firmly. For the jar is strong, and will not easily yield to your touch.
Next, place the jar upon a flat surface, and position your body so that you are facing it. For the jar must be conquered with strength and determination.
Then, take hold of the lid of the jar, and twist it to the right. For the jar is cunning, and will try to deceive you by opening to the left.
As you twist the lid, you will feel resistance. Do not be discouraged, for this is the jar’s final act of defiance. Continue to twist the lid with all your might, until you hear the satisfying pop of the seal breaking.
And finally, lift the lid, and revel in the glory of the jar’s contents. For you have triumphed over the jar, and have unlocked its secrets for all to see. So go forth, my children, and open jars in the name of the Lord. For He has given you the strength to overcome even the mightiest of obstacles. Amen.
Not bad at all. There are a few details I could improve on (in my opinion), but overall, for 10 seconds worth of effort, it’s not bad.
And, that’s the thing . . . I could take that and tweak it, and I’d have a ready-made passage I could incorporate into a post. Obviously, not that passage specifically, but I’ve written humorous takes on fiction tropes before, and a tool like this could get me 90% there.
This tool could be used to flesh out an idea, generate most of the prose, and then the human writer — that would be me — could tweak it, finalize it, and post it, and none would be the wiser.
There’s also another way it could be used . . . a writer could put down a rough draft of a novel, and the AI could then clean it up, correct grammar, catch plot holes, and, in general, spruce up the novel, getting it ready for publication.
There was a short story I wrote seven years ago that foresaw exactly that scenario (HERE).
. . . it didn’t end well . . .
But, can the AI write a story? I used to write flash fiction based on prompts . . . can the AI do the same?
Prompt: Write a short story about the friendship between a pencil and an eraser in the style of Tolkien.
In the land of pencils and erasers, there was once a great friendship between a pencil named Graphite and an eraser named Rubby. Graphite was sharp and precise, able to craft beautiful words and pictures with his pointed tip. Rubby, on the other hand, was soft and pliable, able to erase any mistakes or imperfections with a gentle touch.
Together, Graphite and Rubby traveled the land, helping writers and artists create works of great beauty and significance. They were the best of friends, always there for each other in times of need.
But as with all great friendships, there came a time when Graphite and Rubby faced a great challenge. A dark force had risen in the land, threatening to destroy all creativity and beauty. It was a force of pure evil, known as the Scribbler.
The Scribbler was a cruel and destructive creature, wielding a pen of black ink that left only chaos and devastation in its wake. It reveled in ruining the works of others, and its power grew with each stroke of its pen.
Faced with this great threat, Graphite and Rubby knew that they had to act. They gathered together a team of other pencils and erasers, and set out on a quest to defeat the Scribbler once and for all.
Through many trials and tribulations, Graphite and Rubby led their team across the land, facing dangers and obstacles at every turn. But their friendship never wavered, and they remained steadfast in their determination to save the land from the Scribbler’s evil grip.
Finally, after a long and arduous journey, they reached the Scribbler’s lair. In a fierce and epic battle, Graphite and Rubby fought side by side, using all of their skills and abilities to overcome the evil that had plagued their land for so long.
In the end, they emerged victorious, and the land was once again filled with beauty and creativity. And the friendship between Graphite and Rubby was celebrated throughout the land, a shining example of the power of friendship and determination.
So, even I — milkquetoasty writer that I am — find this a bit bland, generic, and uninspired.
But, let’s step back a moment and look at this a different way . . . a computer program in some undisclosed location threw together a 340 words short story in under 15 seconds based on a generic 18-word prompt. I could expand the prompt, giving it more parameters and maybe a bit more realistic. Maybe use a fork and a spoon instead of a pencil and eraser.
Let’s also remember this tool is in its infancy, and it’s not the only tool out there. There are efforts focusing on AIs for specific writing (fiction, non-fiction, academic, instructional, etc.)
Remember how much of a difference we saw in AI’s ability to generate graphics after only a few months of interfacing with users.
This particular tool is released to the public for testing and development, and I expect it’s only the beginning of what it can do.
Do I feel threatened? As I said before, no. It’s a tool, and one that I would not use to help me in my writing. I might play with it much like I play with the AI Art generator, but I’m still going to snap photographs and write.
What I mentioned before, where I could have it write something based on a prompt and then clean it up? I can’t see myself doing that. For one, it wouldn’t be mine, and two, it would remove what I really like about writing; the creative process. My creative process.
But, for commercial efforts? Are we going to see articles written by AIs appearing in magazines, newspapers, websites, and blogs? Likely, yes.
When it’s all about the money, any advantage someone can bring to bear matters.
However, I can imagine is even less of a chance of any of my stuff ever getting published.
Anyway, let’s see what the AI can do with the Round 11 Title Challenge Prompt.
Prompt: Write a short story beginning with “Ode To…”
Ode to the stars, shining bright in the night sky.
In the silence of the night, I lay on the grass and gaze up at the stars. They twinkle and shimmer, filling the darkness with their light.
I feel small and insignificant beneath their vastness, but at the same time, I am filled with a sense of wonder and awe. The stars have been here for so long, guiding and illuminating the way for generations.
I wonder about the secrets they hold, the stories they could tell. What have they seen in their endless journey across the sky? What mysteries do they hold within their shining depths?
I am grateful for the beauty and majesty of the stars. They remind me of the vastness of the universe, and the smallness of my own problems. They give me hope, and a sense of connection to something greater than myself.
So I will continue to lay here, gazing up at the stars, lost in their beauty and wonder. For they are a reminder of the infinite possibilities of the universe, and the power of the human spirit to dream and imagine.
Hmm . . . more of an essay rather than a short story . . .
. . . although I bet it would still get more votes than I will.
Let me make a graphic using DALL-E for the end of the post . . .
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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