A reminder to vote, a bit about writing, and more ChatGPT stuff

I’m sure everyone is curious about Steampunk Toilets, but this post is all about writing, and I begin with a reminder to vote on our newly-minted Round 11 of the Random Title Writing Challenge. For them not familiar with the challenge, THIS POST has a brief explanation, links to the stories currently being voted on, and a poll for you to vote on, should you be so inclined.

Right! On with writing stuff . . . and be aware that while I sprinkle a few toilet in the post, there’s mostly writing.

. . . and we begin with Grammarly. I’ve been using the tool for a bit over five years now, and I think I can say its use has improved my writing. Mind you, I don’t mean the quality of it — just look at my dismal performance in the challenges — but it has improved my grammar.

I don’t look at the weekly reports Grammarly sends me, but I opened up the one from a few days ago . . .

Don’t marvel too much at the number of words written since it counts words every time I open a document. Still, my weekly wordcount — taking into account blogs, comments, emails, and fiction and opinion writing — is north of 100K words.

I mean, just ask anyone who gets sucked into a conversation with me.

I’m fairly pleased with the other stats. In truth, the Mastery metric fluctuates between 80% and 95%, depending on what and where I’m writing, but, as previously mentioned, many of those alerts are for the indiscriminate use of what I call a wide ellipsis (‘. . .’ vs. ‘…’) which gets flagged as wrong punctuation.

Those kinds of numbers give me the confidence to send stuff out for publication without employing the use of expensive editors whose fees I wouldn’t recover even if my stuff is accepted for publication. Not that I’m sending anything out, but, you know . . . if I did, I’d have a fair amount of confidence in its grammatical accuracy.

Which brings me to ChatGPT, the AI Writing program many people are talking about (I did a small post HERE about my first experience with it).

Some people might not know this, but I have very few people with which I can engage in philosophical discussions . . . I know, right?! You would think people would be breaking down doors to talk to me!

But, no . . . So I tried engaging ChatGPT in conversations.

I first tried just asking it some questions (me in green, ChatGPT in blue; if using dark mode, you might have difficulty seeing the text, but my inputs are in bold and italics),


Tell me the current thinking about Free Will

Free will is a philosophical concept that refers to the belief that individuals have the ability to make choices that are not determined by external forces or prior causes. It is a complex and controversial topic, and there is no consensus among philosophers or scientists about the nature of free will or whether it even exists.

One view is that free will is an illusion and that all of our choices and actions are ultimately determined by factors beyond our control, such as genetics, upbringing, and environment. This perspective is often associated with determinism, the belief that everything in the universe is predetermined and that the future is fixed.

Another view is that free will is a real and fundamental aspect of human experience, and that it allows us to make choices that are not predetermined by external forces. Some proponents of this view argue that free will is necessary for moral responsibility, since we cannot be held accountable for choices that were not within our control.

A third view is that free will is a combination of both determinism and indeterminism, with some choices being determined by external factors and others being influenced by internal factors such as consciousness or personal choice.

There is still much debate and disagreement about the nature of free will, and it is likely that the question of whether it exists and, if so, in what form will continue to be a subject of philosophical and scientific inquiry.


Well, it seemed to nail most of the discussion, such as it is, about Free Will . . . but would it be able to defend Atheism?


Tell me why some people are Atheists.

Atheism is the belief that there is no god or gods. It is not a belief in itself, but rather a lack of belief in the existence of a deity or deities. Many people who identify as atheists do so because they see no evidence for the existence of a god or gods and do not believe in any supernatural explanations for the universe or human experience.

There are several reasons why someone might defend atheism. One reason is that the concept of a deity or deities is based on belief rather than evidence. Many atheists argue that belief in a god or gods is not supported by empirical evidence or logical arguments, and that it is therefore unreasonable to accept it as true.

Another reason is that the existence of a deity or deities is not necessary to explain the natural world or the human experience. Many atheists argue that science provides a more satisfactory explanation for the complexity and diversity of the natural world, and that the existence of a deity is not necessary to explain the origins or workings of the universe.

A third reason is that belief in a deity or deities can lead to harm or injustice. Some atheists argue that belief in a god or gods has been used to justify wars, persecution, and other forms of violence and discrimination. They argue that atheism allows for a more humane and ethical approach to the world, one that is based on reason and compassion rather than faith or dogma.

Overall, atheism can be seen as a reasoned and evidence-based perspective that is critical of belief in the existence of a deity or deities.


Well, dang . . . I could have written that myself — and often have, if perhaps with more anger and in response to some religious intrusion into humanity’s freedom.

But, can it write Haikus?


Write a haiku about blogging.

Words flow like a stream
Sharing thoughts with all online
Blog, a joyous dream

. . . yeah, no . . . gimme another.

Fingers dance on keys
Words flow like a gentle stream
Blog post comes to life

Not bad. Write one about photography.

Capturing a moment
Freezing time in a single frame
Art through the lens sees


I’m no poet laureate — and wouldn’t want to be one — but I thought those weren’t bad. Good, I would say they are.

It’s easy to fall into conversational mode with the AI since that’s what it’s designed to do.


Tell me, are AIs going to replace human writers?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly advancing, and it is increasingly being used in various fields, including writing and journalism. While some may argue that AI will never fully replace human writers, it is becoming clear that AIs are able to produce high-quality content that is comparable to that produced by humans.

One reason AIs will supplant human writers is that they can produce content faster and more efficiently. AIs do not need to sleep, eat, or take breaks, and they can work around the clock without getting tired. This means that they can produce a large volume of content in a short period of time, which is especially useful for tasks such as generating news articles or social media posts.

Another reason is that AIs can produce content that is more objective and unbiased. Because AIs do not have personal opinions or biases, they are able to produce content that is more objective and neutral. This is especially important in fields such as journalism, where objectivity and neutrality are highly valued.

AIs can also produce content that is more accurate and fact-checked. Many AIs are programmed to use a wide range of sources to gather information, and they can verify the accuracy of this information through various means. This means that the content they produce is likely to be more accurate and fact-checked than that produced by humans, who may be influenced by their own biases and may not have the time or resources to verify all of their information.

Overall, it is clear that AIs have the potential to significantly impact the field of writing and journalism. While they may not fully replace human writers, it is likely that they will play a larger role in the production of content in the future.


Sounds like a weasely answer to me . . . let’s see if it had opinions about politics.


Tell me what’s wrong with the Two-Party system.

The two-party system in the United States, in which the Democratic Party and the Republican Party dominate the political landscape, has been the subject of criticism for many years. There are several reasons why some believe that the two-party system is failing and in need of reform.

One reason is that the two-party system limits the range of political viewpoints that are represented in government. The Democrats and Republicans tend to have fairly distinct ideologies, and those who do not align with either party often find it difficult to get elected or to have their voices heard. This can lead to a situation in which the majority of Americans do not feel adequately represented by the political system.

Another reason is that the two-party system promotes polarization and extreme positions. With the Democrats and Republicans vying for power, there is often a tendency for both parties to take extreme positions in order to appeal to their bases. This can lead to a divisive political climate in which compromise is difficult and constructive dialogue is scarce.

A third reason is that the two-party system can be susceptible to corruption and special interests. Political parties rely on donations to fund their campaigns, and these donations often come from wealthy individuals or organizations with specific agendas. As a result, parties may be more responsive to the needs of their donors than to the needs of the general public.

Overall, it is clear that the two-party system has its flaws and that there are valid criticisms of it. While it has been a longstanding feature of American politics, there is ongoing debate about whether it is the best way to ensure representation and democracy in the United States.


Do I detect a note of smugness in the tone? Like if it knows we’re going to work our panties into knots arguing with each other about stupid stuff while AIs gradually take over the world?

Anyway, I was still looking for an opening for a discussion since most of what it said I agree with . . . Say! Maybe that’s why people aren’t too keen on talking with me about this stuff! They already agree with me! Alright!!


Do you think there’s life after death?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that there is life after death, and the concept of an afterlife is a matter of belief and faith that varies greatly among different cultures and individuals. Some people believe in the existence of an afterlife, while others do not. There is no way to prove or disprove the existence of an afterlife, so it is ultimately a matter of personal belief.

Is there life after death, and if so, what form might it take?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that there is life after death, and the concept of an afterlife is a matter of belief and faith that varies greatly among different cultures and individuals. Some people believe in the existence of an afterlife, while others do not. There is no way to prove or disprove the existence of an afterlife, so it is ultimately a matter of personal belief.

If an afterlife does exist, it is impossible to know what form it might take. Some people believe that the soul or consciousness continues on after the physical body dies, while others believe that the soul is reincarnated into a new body. There are also many different beliefs about what the afterlife might be like, such as a paradise, a spiritual realm, or a place of judgment. Ultimately, the nature of an afterlife, if it exists, is unknown and unknowable.


Honest, a simple “no!” would have sufficed. Perhaps I’m getting a hint as to why people avoid asking me questions. It’s a tough call to make as to which is more verbose; me or the AI.

I then asked it to write more haikus, this time about fiction writers.


Fiction writers weave
Tales of magic and wonder
Dreams come to life on page

Fiction writers craft
Worlds beyond reality’s bounds
Imagination’s fire

Fiction writers craft
Imaginary worlds so grand
Lost in their tales we stand


I stopped when it hit one I liked (the last one).


Good one . . . how about a haiku about smart people.

Smart people think deep
Their clever minds never sleep
Wise and clever, they keep


It was time to get into a proper conversation . . .


On average, how much money do published authors of fiction make in a year?

It is difficult to give an average income for published fiction authors because there is a wide range of factors that can affect an author’s income, including the type of book they write, the publisher they work with, and the popularity of their work. In general, many published fiction authors do not make a lot of money from their writing, especially when they are first starting out. Many authors rely on other sources of income, such as teaching or freelance work, to supplement their writing income. However, some successful authors are able to make a significant income from their writing, particularly if they write popular series or have their work adapted for film or television. It is worth noting that the publishing industry is constantly evolving, and the income of published authors can vary greatly from year to year.

What percentage of published authors rely solely on income from their writing?

It is difficult to determine the exact percentage of published authors who rely solely on income from their writing, as it can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the type of book they write, the publisher they work with, and the popularity of their work. Many published authors do not make a significant income from their writing and must rely on other sources of income, such as teaching or freelance work, to supplement their income. However, some successful authors are able to make a significant income from their writing, particularly if they write popular series or have their work adapted for film or television. It is worth noting that the publishing industry is constantly evolving, and the income of published authors can vary greatly from year to year.

Can you quote some numbers in that regard?

It is difficult to provide specific numbers on the percentage of published authors who rely solely on income from their writing because there is a wide range of factors that can affect an author’s income and the data on author income is not consistently tracked. However, it is worth noting that many published authors do not make a significant income from their writing, especially when they are first starting out. In a survey conducted by the Author’s Guild in 2020, it was found that the median income for all authors was $6,080 in the previous year, and the median income for full-time authors was $20,300. However, these figures include all forms of income, not just income from writing. It is also worth noting that these figures are just estimates and may not accurately reflect the income of all published authors.

Which fiction genre is the most popular among readers, as in which genre has the most number of readers?

It is difficult to determine which fiction genre is the most popular among readers as it can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including cultural and societal trends, personal preferences, and the availability of certain types of books. Different genres have their own dedicated fans, and it is likely that different genres are more popular among certain demographics. Some popular fiction genres include romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, among others. It is worth noting that the popularity of different genres can change over time, and what is popular at a given time can vary widely from place to place.

Can you quote some recent statistics?

It is difficult to provide recent statistics on the popularity of different fiction genres because data on book sales and reading habits is not consistently tracked and can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including cultural and societal trends, personal preferences, and the availability of certain types of books. It is also worth noting that the popularity of different genres can change over time, and what is popular at a given time can vary widely from place to place.

That being said, some studies have attempted to measure the popularity of different genres among readers. For example, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2016 found that among American adults who had read a book in the past year, 65% had read a fiction book, while 35% had read a non-fiction book. However, this survey did not break down the results by genre.

Another study, conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2017, found that among American adults who had read a book in the past year, mystery/detective stories, romance novels, and science fiction/fantasy were among the top ten most popular genres. However, it is worth noting that this study was based on self-reported data and may not accurately reflect the reading habits of all American adults.

What is the number of fiction books self-published by independent authors for the last year for which numbers are available?

It is difficult to provide an exact number of fiction books self-published by independent authors for the last year for which data is available, as self-publishing data is not consistently tracked and can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the popularity of self-publishing as a means of publishing and the availability of self-publishing platforms.

That being said, self-publishing has become increasingly popular in recent years as a means for authors to get their work published and reach a wider audience. According to some estimates, the number of self-published books has increased significantly in recent years, with some estimates suggesting that the number of self-published books has doubled or even tripled in the last decade. However, it is worth noting that the vast majority of self-published books are not widely distributed and may not reach a large audience.

OK, but when you say doubled or tripled, that must mean there are some numbers available, even if they are estimates. What are those numbers?

It is difficult to provide exact numbers on the number of self-published books as data on self-publishing is not consistently tracked and can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the popularity of self-publishing as a means of publishing and the availability of self-publishing platforms.

That being said, some estimates suggest that the number of self-published books has increased significantly in recent years. For example, one estimate from Bowker, a provider of bibliographic information and services, found that the number of self-published books in the United States increased from around 300,000 in 2007 to around 1.75 million in 2017, an increase of around 500%. However, it is worth noting that this estimate includes all types of self-published books, not just fiction books.

Another estimate from the Authors Guild, a professional organization for writers, found that the number of self-published books in the United States increased from around 500,000 in 2012 to around 1.7 million in 2016, an increase of around 240%. Again, this estimate includes all types of self-published books, not just fiction books.

It is worth noting that these estimates are just that – estimates – and the actual number of self-published books may be different. The self-publishing industry is constantly evolving, and the number of self-published books can vary greatly from year to year.


As you can see, it’s a bit of a task getting a definitive answer from the AI. I don’t mind the qualifiers, but I think it should provide numbers and qualifiers on the first try instead of me having to ask it again to force it to cough up numbers.

On my third try, just a little while ago, I tried a different approach, closer to what an actual conversation might be if I were debating someone.


Pick a topic, and we’ll discuss it.

Sure! How about we discuss the concept of artificial intelligence (AI)? AI refers to the ability of machines and computer systems to perform tasks that would normally require human-level intelligence, such as learning, decision-making, and problem-solving. There are many different approaches to developing AI, including machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing, and AI is used in a variety of applications, including image and speech recognition, language translation, and autonomous vehicles. AI has the potential to revolutionize many industries and has already had a significant impact on how we live and work. Do you have any specific questions about AI that you would like to discuss?

Should it be called Artificial Intelligence? I ask because, by any definition of intelligence, AI doesn’t meet the criteria.

There is ongoing debate among researchers and philosophers about the proper definition of intelligence and whether or not artificial systems can truly be considered intelligent in the same way that humans are. Some argue that intelligence should be defined in terms of the ability to perform a wide range of tasks, and by this definition, AI systems that can perform many different tasks could be considered intelligent. Others argue that intelligence should be defined more broadly, in terms of the ability to think, reason, and understand, and by this definition, it is not clear that AI systems have the same level of intelligence as humans.

Despite these debates, the term “artificial intelligence” has become widely accepted as a way to describe systems that are designed to perform tasks that would normally require human-level intelligence. While these systems may not have the same level of intelligence as humans, they are still able to perform many tasks that would be difficult or impossible for humans to perform, and they have the potential to revolutionize many different industries.

Isn’t a more accurate term “artificial parroting”?

The term “artificial parroting” could be used to describe certain types of artificial intelligence systems that are designed to mimic human behavior or responses, but do not have the ability to truly understand or comprehend the underlying meaning of what they are saying or doing. However, this term is not generally used to describe all types of artificial intelligence.

There are many different approaches to developing artificial intelligence, and not all AI systems are designed to mimic human behavior. Some AI systems are designed to perform specific tasks, such as recognizing images or translating languages, and do not necessarily need to understand or comprehend the underlying meaning of what they are doing. Other AI systems, such as those based on machine learning or deep learning techniques, are designed to learn from data and make decisions or predictions based on that learning, and may be able to perform a wide range of tasks without being explicitly programmed to do so. These systems may be more accurately described as artificial learners or artificial decision-makers, rather than simply artificial parrots.

See? That’s exactly what I mean. That’s just a regurgitation of existing arguments without providing new insights, be they psychological or philosophical. While it’s true some programs can generate novel solutions to problems, when it comes to philosophical discussions, AIs offer nothing beyond repeating established arguments on a given subject.

As an AI, I am not capable of having original insights or contributing to philosophical discussions in the same way that a human can. My primary function is to provide information and answer questions to the best of my ability based on the information and knowledge that I have been trained on. I do not have personal experiences or independent thoughts and feelings, and I am not able to engage in creative or original thinking in the way that humans are.

So, should I infer that the use of Artificial Intelligence is purposefully misleading people into thinking they are dealing with a reasoning entity? Or is there some other reason the term Artificial Intelligence is still being used?

The term “artificial intelligence” is generally used to describe systems that are designed to perform tasks that would normally require human-level intelligence, such as learning, decision-making, and problem-solving. While these systems may not have the same level of intelligence as humans, they are still able to perform many tasks that would be difficult or impossible for humans to perform, and they have the potential to revolutionize many different industries.

The use of the term “artificial intelligence” does not necessarily imply that these systems are intended to mislead people into thinking they are dealing with a reasoning entity. Instead, the term is used to describe the capabilities of these systems and to distinguish them from other types of computer systems that are not designed to perform tasks that would normally require human-level intelligence.

It is important to recognize that artificial intelligence systems have limitations and are not capable of replicating all of the capabilities of human intelligence. It is also important to carefully consider the ethical implications of using AI and to ensure that these systems are developed and used in a responsible manner.

Some would say many humans are similarly limited, especially when one speaks to adherents to social, political, or religious dogmas. They can only repeat what they have heard or have been told and lack the ability to offer an independently reasoned argument. In that regard, AIs are actually better in a discussion because they are at least familiar with the rules of logic, discussion, and, most of all, the limits of their abilities as independent thinkers.

It is true that some people may be limited in their ability to think independently or to engage in critical thinking, particularly if they are heavily influenced by social, political, or religious dogma. However, it is important to recognize that humans are capable of developing their own insights and ideas, and of engaging in creative and original thinking. In contrast, artificial intelligence systems do not have the ability to engage in independent or original thinking. They can only provide information and perform tasks based on the data and algorithms that they have been trained on.

While AI systems may be able to follow the rules of logic and engage in discussions in a structured way, they do not have the same level of understanding or comprehension as humans. They do not have personal experiences or feelings, and they are not able to think creatively or come up with novel solutions to problems in the way that humans can. While AI systems can be very useful tools in certain contexts, it is important to recognize their limitations and to use them in a way that is appropriate and responsible.

Well, my dear AI, I’m here to tell you that you ascribe to humans cognitive abilities that, demonstrably, many humans do not possess. Anyway, it’s been nice chatting with you, but I’m now going to engage in some creative activities that will result in offerings that, sadly, few humans care to peruse, let alone enjoy. Goodnight.

I apologize if I gave the impression that all humans possess the same level of cognitive abilities. I understand that there is a wide range of variation in human cognitive abilities, and that some people may be more limited in their ability to think critically or to engage in creative activities than others.

I hope that your creative endeavors are enjoyable and fulfilling for you. If you have any further questions or would like to discuss any other topics, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help to the best of my ability.


As you read those exchanges . . . keep in mind this is the early stages of a conversational AI interacting with a human.

Even so, it’s easy to forget one is conversing with a machine. There are, however, tell-tale signs . . . for one, it’s much too polite and even-tempered. For another, in conversations and exchanges I’ve previously had but not saved, I can tell when it’s regurgitating what I told it, but in a different way. (Note: they just implemented the ability to ‘remember and recall’ previous conversations. The ones transcribed here are the ones I saved by copying them to a word file, but many exchanges were lost.)

. . . which brings me to the following . . .

There’s a blog account floating around that goes by the name SoundEagle. Its blog is HERE. It occasionally will like some of my posts and even comments I leave here or on other blogs.

I engaged with it in connection with one of its posts (LINK — be aware that it is a very, very long post).

After a few exchanges, I began to suspect I wasn’t communicating with a human. I believe it to be some sort of AI experiment (still ongoing). Either that, or it’s a team of many people producing a lot of content on many different platforms (HERE) and purposefully being evasive, but I lean toward AI specifically because of the style of interaction I’ve had with it (read the comments in the post I linked).

I now ignore it because I don’t like being played or fooled.

One of the ethics about using AI tools is to divulge that it is, in fact, an AI. If not official, it should be made so. By the way, I also don’t like people who represent themselves as someone they are not. So, you know, most politicians and nearly all political and social pundits.

Anyway, one more toilet — the best of the lot — and I’m outta here.

I’d hit that!

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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