Jim Flynn is a humorist, writer and novelist. He is available for speaking engagements. To contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Artificial Intelligence-What’s Going On?
I was on a podcast recently, and talked about Artificial Intelligence and more specifically, ChatGPT as this technology relates to writing.
Although the purpose of the podcast was to promote my new golf book, many listeners were interested in Artificial Intelligence. Some people contacted me, others contacted Dr. Paul, the podcast host. I decided to share my experiences with and point of view of this technology, exciting and potentially world changing and perhaps threatening to the existing order.
There are many versions of Artificial Intelligence. One popular version is ChatGPT. Anyone can get on the web-based app for free, but it is very busy, and sometimes not available. The paid version, for around $20 per month is, in my experience always available, and is the only way to get access to Release 4.0, the newest and much improved model.
So, what is it? For my first demonstration, I logged on to the app and typed in: What is Chat GPT, and hit enter, Here’s a small sample of the output, edited by me for the sake of brevity:
ChatGPT has been specifically designed for conversational purposes.…It aims to simulate natural conversation and provide meaningful answers or responses to user queries or prompts… They can generate human-like text by predicting the most probable next word based on the previous context…
Huh? Well, so what? That’s a clinical answer. And ChatGPT is being far too modest. That’s how SkyNet infiltrates the human race! Trust me, Mr. Human, I just want to be your servant!
It can do a lot of things, for example pass the New York State Bar Exam, write a novel, create an outline for a College Freshman Literature Textbook, build a model stock portfolio, write funny off-color poetry, generate computer code…the list goes on, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I used ChatGPT as my research assistant to write my latest book, The 10 Greatest Golfers of All Time. The way it works is you ask you ask Chat a question, for example: tell me about golfer Byron Nelson.
It instantly gives you a 600 word answer. No ads, no rerouting you to some clickbait site. But the best part is that you can highlight part of the answer, and ask Chat to expand on that point, or to explain why it chose that particular answer. You can drill down to the smallest point. You can say: compare Byron Nelson to Arnold Palmer.
To the delight of college kids everywhere, you can copy and paste the answers to a Word document. While it’s unlikely a college professor will ask for an essay on Byron Nelson, you can do the same exercise on Hawthorne, or Shakespeare.
Let’s try one: I typed into ChatGPT: explain the cultural significance of Lady MacBeth. The answer took maybe five seconds. Again I’m editing the answer for the sake of brevity.
Lady Macbeth is a complex and influential character in William Shakespeare's play "Macbeth." Her character holds great cultural significance due to her portrayal as a powerful and ambitious woman who challenges traditional gender roles and expectations.
One of the most notable aspects of Lady Macbeth's character is her ambition. She is depicted as a fiercely determined woman who actively encourages her husband…
Lady Macbeth's famous soliloquy in Act I, Scene V, where she calls upon supernatural forces to "unsex" her and remove her feminine qualities, is a striking moment in the play….This speech has become iconic and has contributed to Lady Macbeth's cultural significance as a symbol of female empowerment and rebellion against societal constraints….
In summary, ….Lady Macbeth's psychological complexity, memorable soliloquy, and the exploration of gender expectations have ensured her enduring presence in literary discussions, adaptations, and popular culture.
The whole answer was 600 words long, and I have to admit, was not only interesting, but taught me something. If that wasn’t long enough, you could ask Chat GPT to expand on one of the points. It would be easy for a college freshman to slap the output into an essay and call it his own.
There are even programs now to take that essay and change it enough for it can’t be detected as Artificial Intelligence output! The crooks are always ahead of the cops.
It’s not just college kids using AI. Go on YouTube and ask for: How to Write a Novel with ChatGPT. You’ll get hundreds of responses. Some of the better ones will teach you how to write an entire novel without much human intervention, format the novel, create a book cover, and disguise it enough so that Amazon will accept the book and publish it. People are bombarding Amazon and similar sites every day with novels created in this fashion
I’m a complete novice at ChatGPT, and I could create a phony novel if I wanted to. Artificial Intelligence will also create the words and music to a song, write a screenplay, a poem, a newspaper article. If you are attending a birthday party soon, say for Uncle Larry who likes to play golf, but is better at driving the cart than hitting the ball, let’s try an experiment:
I am instructing Chat: Write a funny 8-line poem for my Uncle Larry’s birthday. Larry likes to play golf but is better at driving the cart than hitting the ball. Here’s the output:
Uncle Larry, our golfing ace,
Swings his club with style and grace.
But let's be honest, truth be told,
His shots go wide, his aim's untold.
But fear not, Larry, you've found your knack,
Behind the wheel, you're right on track.
Happy birthday to our golf cart king,
In driving skills, you truly swing!
This whole project took maybe 30 seconds. Not Pulitzer Prize material, but Uncle Larry would probably like it.
These examples have been benign. But bad guys, the kind who steal your credit card numbers and identities have been at work. Right now they can use Artificial Intelligence to fake your voice calling in a bomb threat, or your daughter’s voice calling you to tell you she’s been kidnapped and directing you where to send the ransom.
Maybe scarier is that Artificial Intelligence seems to be thinking when you are interacting with it. I had times when, even though I know better, it seemed like ChatGPT knew what I was going to ask next!
AI is here to stay, and it is getting better. ChatGPT 4.0, which came out while I was writing the latest golf book, is far superior to Release 3.5.
I’m scratching the surface. Here’s the thing: I’m going to keep using it. It’s a fantastic research assistant. Anyone who using research to write a book who doesn’t use Artificial Intelligence is at a disadvantage.
What’s going to happen to the publishing world? Are authors soon to be obsolete? How about the Screen Writers Guild. Did they choose a very bad time to go on strike? What happens when you combine Artificial Intelligence with Virtual Reality?
The novel was the art form of the 19th Century, the movie took that place in the 20th. You have to think that the 21st Century will create something new. It’s at once exciting and threatening to the existing order.
In six months what I have just written will seem quaint and obsolete. But I’ll do updates.
Note: the examples, Lady MacBeth and Uncle Larry’s birthday poem, were ideas I had on the spur of the moment and were unedited except for brevity purposes. The possibilities are limited only by my imagination.