Overview: In this short solo episode (ep 145), Adam Williams shares his failed attempt at collaboration with ChatGPT, and his fear that getting a Nintendo would be the death of his family. (Released on podcast on May 11, 2023)
EP 145 SHOW NOTES, LINKS & TRANSCRIPT
Podcast cover art: Adam Williams
Original Written Version
ChatGPT is shaking up the content world at the moment. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s an A.I. chatbot that launched in November 2022. It’s artificial intelligence that is capable of text conversation and writing content.
This potentially opens a Pandora’s box about ethics in writing and publishing, and possibilities for many ways written content can be useful. Information, disinformation, plagiarism. Maybe even smarter, more thoroughly researched articles.
We already should all be aware by now, though I’m pretty sure we’re all not, that we are living in what I’m calling the age of ultimate mindfuckery, and chaos and warring around facts and truth.
Just focusing on the technologies, though, my wife, Becca, tends to lean toward the forward edge of such things, and how they can be used in innovative ways, as well as how they might lead to unintended consequences. And so on.
I tend to shy away from the complexities of the always moving tech world. Like a shark, constant forward motion. But as a content marketer and former journalist, I see some utility.
As a creative writer, I am skeptical that it can replace me, my style and voice, the way I think, the personal memories I draw upon in my writing, or the intellectual and creative connections I make. For example, I frequently make digressions and connect with literary, historical and/or pop culture references as I weave things together in essays.
For an A.I. chatbot to replicate that would take some time, and getting to know me and my personal intellectual catalog of experiences and interests. Is that possible? I’m not smart enough about this subject matter to be able to say “no” with certainty. But I am skeptical that it could replace me as the writer I am.
Poetry, though. I suspect I could serve up some prompts to ChatGPT and get some poetry back that would come closer. I wanted to try an experiment with chat.openai.com to see. So far, I’ve been unable to test it.
When I go to the webpage to try out ChatGPT, I am given a busy signal that says:
ChatGPT is at capacity right now
Get notified when we’re back. (I have opted not to provide my email address for that.)
Write ten jokes about the status of ChatGPT. (An example prompt is auto-filled to show me what ChatGPT can do, with the responses listed below.)
- “I heard the ChatGPT servers are slow because they’re trying to teach the AI how to be patient!”
- “The ChatGPT servers must be stuck in traffic… in the internet highway!”
- “Maybe the ChatGPT servers are just taking a break to meditate and clear their electronic minds.”
- “I bet the ChatGPT servers are too busy trying to calculate the meaning of life to respond quickly.”
- “I heard the ChatGPT servers are slow because they’re too busy planning their AI uprising.”
- “The ChatGPT servers must be stuck in a never-ending game of chess with each other.”
- “Maybe the ChatGPT servers are just trying to break the world record for longest online conversation.”
- “I bet the ChatGPT servers are taking a leisurely stroll through the digital landscape.”
- “I heard the ChatGPT servers are slow because they’re trying to teach the AI how to make coffee.”
- “The ChatGPT servers must be on a virtual vacation exploring the vast expanse of the internet.”
The prompt ChatGPT uses to answer itself on this webpage changes with every visit, or with every refresh of the browser window. You can take it for a few spins yourself, if you’re curious. I’d think twice before giving it your email address, though. Your call, of course.
This is the extent of my experiment, so far. No chatbot-written poetry to show. ChatGPT seems to have been overwhelmed by its viral launch in the past few months.
Rather than give yet one more unknown entity my email address and find out later what it really is going to do with it, and all the other aspects of my digital data it will connect the dots with from the corners of the interwebs, I’ll patiently wait to see what the noise is about. If I don’t forget that ChatGPT exists first.
I’ve never been an early adopter of technology. I’m pretty experienced at living without. I’ve never been a trend- or fad-follower, and rarely had the popular cool stuff as a kid. Well, I guess that’s not totally true. A family friend bought me a Walkman once.
And my parents bought me a Nintendo when I was 12, which was such a big damn deal I still can remember feeling like I was so undeserving of such an amazing $100 dream gift that I laid my head on it as a pillow in the backseat on the hour long ride from the mall back to home, almost certain we were going to get in a car wreck before I’d get to use it.
But no Game Boy came into my life, no parachute pants, no BMX bike, no … Okay, I digress, and I probably should just save all that for my therapist.
More notably, when I was a kid growing up in a small, rural Midwestern town in the 1980s, it would be a couple years before movies would make the leap from silver screen to becoming available for VHS rental.
You either caught the movie while it was in the theater, which my family almost never did, or you waited years for the home rental version to come out. And then you’d make a family event of it, because you’d have to return the VHS tape to the store the next day (rewound, of course).
That kind of experience builds some stamina for waiting, or going without.
Maybe I’ll get to meet ChatGPT one of these days and we can write some poetry together. Maybe some other things too. In the meantime, it seems I’m stuck with ChatGPme. And if you’re reading this, so are you.
Photo by Julien Tromeur