Have I Just Become Redundant?

An artificial intelligence just told me a story.

On this, my last post of 2022, I wanted to look toward the future, not dwell upon the past. While contemplating the many world-changing things I’d heard about recently (and those things seem to be coming at us faster and faster, don’t they?) I remembered that within the space of a week, I had heard two different NPR stories about an intriguing new artificial intelligence program called ChatGPT. (You can find the stories here and here.)

ChatGPT can crank out poems, stories, news articles, software code, translations, syllabi, assignments, speeches, lectures, letters, and interview questions. It can also correct essays and grade papers, summarize academic articles, and tell you why your computer code isn’t working. It can even provide you with answers to your crossword puzzles. The possibilities are endless.

This thing can do everything but walk and chew gum. In a way, though, it’s kind of creepy. Will there come a day when ChatGPT will take all the jobs? If so, how will our world look after that? I suspect that the times, they are a’changin’.

Its own website concedes that ChatGPT has its limitations. It can write articles that sound quite plausible, but are, in fact, incorrect. It can also come up with harmful instructions or biased content. And currently it’s about a year behind on current events. Nobody’s perfect.

I decided to check out ChatGPT to see if it could write this blog better than I do. (And if you’re interested, you should explore it, too, but do so soon, because right now it’s free, but there’s no telling when OpenAI, ChatGPT’s parent company, will decide that this AI is sophisticated enough to monetize.)

So I created an account and then said hello to ChatGPT. (And really, couldn’t they have come up with a better name? This one doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.)

I asked it to tell me a story about a bridgetender who sits on her drawbridge and observes people all day. And this is what ChatGPT came up with in less than 10 seconds.

The Bridgetender’s Smile

Once there was a bridgetender named Jane who lived in a small town by the river. She had been working on the drawbridge for as long as she could remember, and she loved her job. Every day, she would sit in her little booth on the bridge and watch the boats go by, the birds flying overhead, and the people walking across the bridge.

Jane was a curious and observant person, and she enjoyed learning about the people who passed by her booth. She would often strike up conversations with the people who crossed the bridge, asking them about their lives and their stories. Some days, she would chat with tourists who were visiting the town for the first time, and other days, she would talk to the locals who were just passing through.

As the years went by, Jane became an expert at reading people's moods and emotions, and she was always ready with a kind word or a comforting smile whenever someone seemed down. She had a special talent for making people feel at ease, and she was always happy to lend an ear to anyone who needed to talk.

Despite the passage of time, Jane remained as cheerful and positive as ever, always greeting the people who crossed the bridge with her warm smile. And even though she was getting older, she remained as dedicated and hardworking as ever, always ready to open and close the bridge whenever a boat needed to pass through.

As the years passed, Jane became a beloved figure in the town, and everyone who knew her admired her for her kindness and her love for her job. And even though she was just a simple bridgetender, she touched the lives of countless people, making their days just a little bit brighter and happier.

Well, it’s a lot more saccharine than any story I would come up with. The plot was kind of unsophisticated as well, but still, it did make me smile, even though I’m dying to wade in there and edit it. I suspect that a lot of people wouldn’t guess that the story was written by an artificial intelligence.

We’ve come a long way since the encounter I had with another AI called Cleverbot just 4 years ago. Now that was a funny conversation. That AI could only respond by saying things others had said to it, and you could tell many of its users really had fun with it. The conversation moved back and forth between flirting and hostility, and it often made no sense whatsoever.

Just to be fair, I paid another visit to Cleverbot to see if it had improved over the years. Here’s the brief conversation we had:

Me: Hello Cleverbot, I haven’t spoken to you in 4 years!

Cleverbot: Yes you have. And I am Frank.

Me: Have you gotten any more sophisticated since then?

Cleverbot: I'm always getting more clever, have you?

Me: It depends on whom you ask.

Cleverbot: If you say so.

Me: I just met an AI called ChatGPT. It appears to be smarter than you are.

Cleverbot: Give me a random 3 digit number.

Me: Do you know ChatGPT?

Cleverbot: No what is it?

Me: An AI.

Cleverbot: Oh really?

Me: It seems smarter than you are.

Cleverbot: No you are not.

Me: I didn't say I was, but I am.

Cleverbot: You did.

Me: You still like to argue, don't you?

Cleverbot: No I don't, you liar!

Me: Okay, fine. I'll just go and talk to ChatGPT. It's a lot more pleasant to interact with.

Cleverbot: I have never loved you.

Me: I'm not exactly warming up to you, either.

So, as you can see, it’s a lot less flirty at the moment, but every bit as argumentative as it was 4 years ago. ChatGPT, on the other hand, appears to be light years ahead of it. I can’t imagine where both of them will be a decade from now. It will be fascinating to find out.

If OpenAI put out a dedicated telephone app for ChatGPT, I’d probably just leave my brain at home and let it do the talking. But as of today, I hope you’ll agree that I can still blog a tiny bit better than an artificial intelligence can. Right?

Hello?

I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that? http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

12 thoughts on “Have I Just Become Redundant?”

  1. Right.
    Your laurels will be safe for a good long while.
    Nice little picture you put in there too–seems to symbolize the splendor of a good imagination…
    I’m still cackling over the Greta Thunberg vs Andrew Tate story (Twitter).

  2. As a writer you’re safe… for a while. As an artist I’m both threatened and amazed by AI art generating programs like these… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDKTuMYAWTM Fortunately I’ve never used my art for income, but two of my children do and I wonder how long before their skills will be redundant. Glad I’ll be dead, and onto the next dimension, before everything on earth is put on auto-AI-pilot while humans retreat permanently into their virtual realities.

    1. As someone who used to spend a lot of time creating fractal art on my computer, I have mixed emotions about digital art. (Check out some of my work here: https://www.zazzle.com/store/serenity_questi) It was always frustrating to me that the genre isn’t taken seriously. I was still making artistic decisions that resulted in an outcome that was unique to the point that no one else could make an exact replica. My tools may have been digital, but my creativity was still necessary. But I can understand why your kids have reason for concern. But I have faith in art and the love of beauty. (I even have a Public Art Lovers Facebook group that you’re welcome to join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/publicartlovers) I think the more beauty that people are exposed to, the more they will crave it. But no question, the world is changing quickly, and there’s no telling how it will turn out. But I hope you stick around to see as much as you can. But thank you. You’ve given me another blog post idea!

      1. You’re welcome. Glad to be of use. Already have two of your beautiful, unique fractal puzzles. My children are professional digital designers and with AI art generating programs so easy for the lay person, they’re going to lose customers who prefer to use them to save money. They’re user friendly and results look professional. Watched a few tutorials and the users creative input is minimal. AI does the majority of the designing. When I create it’s to get into a meditative zone that I doubt I could achieve using AI. It’s the same as reading a book vs reading it on a kindle or watching a nature video vs walking barefoot through the woods. Tech distorts and dampens the sensory experiences that connects the external to my internal world and vice-versa. That doesn’t stop me from appreciating nature videos and audio books, or even from creating digital art myself, but they’ll never satisfy my soul. It will still crave that hands on sensory experience.
        I’d join your group but I’m not a Facebooker. My social media exposure consists of your blog and watching YouTube videos, but never commenting there. Having stalking abusers in my past makes me cautiously anonymous online. I only risk comments here because I trust this site. Not so confident about privacy on fb. Yes, my world seems small, but I manage to expand it quite nicely without much social media.

      2. I am very impressed with your incredibly skilled way of making lemonade out of lemons! You are amazing and inspiring. I did get a lot of satisfaction from creating my fractals, but time is limited these days.

  3. Big fan of Greta also, but wish she hadn’t body shamed him to make a point. Stooping to that misogynists level left her open to accusations of misandristic behavior. Been reading comments about that and, sadly, it appears she has handed both misogynists and climate deniers ammunition and it’s pulling focus from the crimes he’s in jail for. Hope Romanian law enforcement does a thorough investigation on the human trafficking and rape charges and he pays for all his crimes.

    1. I hadn’t thought of it from that angle. Oddly, my one criticism is that she said he should have recycled his pizza box. You can’t recycle pizza boxes, but you can compost them. Which goes to show that if you want to criticize someone, you can always find something. Wait ’til you read my post on Jan. 5th…

      1. Much as it creeps me out, reading comments by you tubers, about current events, gives me a heads up as to which way the conspiracy wind is about to blow. By the time main stream news reports it I’m not blindsided by yet another round of pop goes the crazy. Right now they’re targeting Greta. By tomorrow they’ll find another scapegoat to distract us from their circus. And yes, the amount of things that aren’t actually being recycled, that most assume is, is criminal. Keeping up with all the changeable facts can be difficult for even climate activists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dk3NOEgX7o&t=338s

  4. Off topic for this post but wanted to wish you a hopeful New Year and share this video for times when the darkness seems impenetrable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZaPw2DQiZ8 Health and happiness to us all in 2023. 🥳 And happy belated birthday to you dear writer. Just sent a birthday / appreciation gift to you. Hope it arrives in one piece. If not, let me know so I can have it replaced.

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