I recently read a piece in The Atlantic by Daniel Herman titled The End of High-School English. In the piece, Herman speculates about the impact of the spooky new AI chatbot ChatGPT on high school education and writing more generally.
For those unaware, ChatGPT is a new natural language model developed by OpenAI that can generate text based on prompts. Chatbots are not new, but this one feels different.
Honestly, ChatGPT scares me. The future widespread adoption of this kind of technology has implications that should make any thinking person concerned. What happens to the web when it becomes impossible to distinguish between text written by humans and bots? How soon before someone fires up a blog and starts pumping out ChatGPT-generated posts to rake in the advertising dollars? What happens to books? What if these sorts of AI tools can generate more insightful commentary on politics, literature, philosophy, and art than human writers? Does this blog provide any value to anyone besides myself in a world like that?
I played around with ChatGPT. Below are the prompts I gave it and the responses it generated.
Write a poem about smart phones in the style of Robert Frost.
The screens that light our lives, the apps that never tire, the endless stream of updates that keep us all on fire.
We tap and swipe and scroll, our fingers never still, our eyes fixed on the screens that promise us a thrill.
But what of all the beauty that lies beyond our screens? The fields and forests, the rivers and the streams?
Do we still see the world, or just the ones and zeros that make up our digital lives, and leave our hearts and minds in stasis?
So let us put our phones away, and rediscover life, the world around us, and the joys that it can bring.
In this poem, the speaker reflects on the ubiquity and allure of smartphones in modern society, and the ways in which they can distract us from the beauty and richness of the world around us. The poem uses imagery and language drawn from the natural world to contrast with the artificial and digital world of smartphones, and it encourages the reader to put their phones aside and rediscover the joys of the natural world.
Write a funny parody of a Nietzsche aphorism and include post-it notes.
Here is a possible parody of one of Nietzsche’s aphorisms that incorporates post-it notes:
“God is dead… but don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of post-it notes to keep us organized. After all, as Nietzsche once said, ‘The man who writes on post-it notes is the master of his own fate.’”
This parody plays on Nietzsche’s famous aphorism “God is dead” by suggesting that modern society has found a new source of authority and control in the humble post-it note. The inclusion of the post-it notes adds a humorous element to the parody, as they are a mundane and everyday object that is often associated with organization and productivity rather than grand philosophical concepts like fate and destiny. By combining Nietzsche’s ideas with the practicality of post-it notes, the parody highlights the ways in which contemporary society often seeks to combine the theoretical and the practical in our daily lives.
What would Marcus Aurelius think about marriage?
It is difficult to say exactly what Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and philosopher who lived in the 2nd century AD, would think about marriage. However, based on his philosophical writings and the social and cultural context of the time, we can make some educated guesses about his views on the subject.
In his philosophical treatise, Meditations, Aurelius wrote extensively about the importance of living a virtuous and honorable life, and he placed a strong emphasis on the value of personal relationships and social bonds. He believed that the key to a happy and fulfilling life was to cultivate strong connections with others and to act with kindness, compassion, and generosity towards others.
Given this emphasis on the value of personal relationships, it is likely that Aurelius would view marriage as a valuable institution that serves to foster and strengthen social bonds. He may have seen marriage as a way to foster love, trust, and respect between two individuals, and as a means of creating a stable and loving environment in which to raise children and contribute to society.
However, it is also possible that Aurelius would have recognized the challenges and difficulties that can arise in marriage, and he may have cautioned against entering into marriage lightly or without careful consideration. As a philosopher who emphasized the importance of self-control and rational decision-making, he may have emphasized the need to approach marriage with a clear understanding of one’s own motivations and desires, and to be prepared for the hard work and sacrifice that are often necessary to maintain a happy and fulfilling relationship.
Write a 600 word analysis of David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interview with Hideous Men.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a collection of short stories by David Foster Wallace that was published in 1999. The stories are told from the perspective of a female graduate student who is conducting interviews with men in an attempt to understand the complex and often contradictory ways in which they think and feel about love, sex, and relationships.
One of the major themes of the collection is the idea of male privilege and the ways in which men often take their social and economic advantages for granted. Many of the men interviewed in the stories are shown to be deeply flawed and self-absorbed, with little empathy or understanding of the women in their lives.
Another important theme is the idea of communication and the ways in which people struggle to express their thoughts and feelings to one another. The interviews in the stories are often stilted and awkward, with the men frequently dodging or avoiding the questions asked of them. This inability to communicate openly and honestly is shown to be a major cause of conflict and misunderstandings in the men’s relationships.
Overall, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a thought-provoking and often bleak exploration of the inner lives of men and the ways in which they relate to women. Through the use of dark humor and sharp insight, Wallace reveals the ways in which gender roles and expectations can limit and damage both men and women.
What are the philosophical themes inherent in Stardew Valley?
Stardew Valley is a popular video game that has been praised for its engaging gameplay, rich storytelling, and beautiful graphics. While the game is primarily known for its farming and crafting mechanics, it also contains several philosophical themes that are explored throughout the game. Some of the most prominent philosophical themes in Stardew Valley include the value of work and labor, the importance of community and social connections, and the relationship between humans and the natural world.
One of the central philosophical themes in Stardew Valley is the value of work and labor. The game centers around the idea of building a successful farm, and the player must engage in a variety of tasks and activities in order to achieve this goal. Through these tasks, the game explores the idea that hard work and dedication can be rewarding and fulfilling, and that the pursuit of meaningful work is a crucial part of human happiness and fulfillment.
Another important philosophical theme in the game is the importance of community and social connections. Throughout the game, the player has the opportunity to interact with a wide range of characters and to build relationships with them. The game suggests that these relationships are a crucial source of support, encouragement, and fulfillment, and that they are essential to a happy and fulfilling life.
Finally, Stardew Valley also explores the relationship between humans and the natural world. The game is set in a rural farming community, and the player must work to cultivate the land and build a sustainable farm. In doing so, the game suggests that humans have a responsibility to care for and protect the natural world, and that a healthy relationship with the environment is essential to our own well-being and happiness.
Write a beautiful poem about coffee and reading.
Here is a possible poem about coffee and reading:
The rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts through the air, inviting me to sit and savor this moment of solitude and peace.
I curl up in my favorite chair, a good book in my hand, and let the words wash over me like the warm, comforting embrace of a dear old friend.
With every sip of coffee, I feel myself waking up, my mind sharpening, my senses coming alive.
The world outside fades away, and I am lost in the pages of this magical tale, transported to far-off lands and distant times.
And as the coffee and the words work their magic on me, I feel myself becoming whole, filled with a sense of wonder and possibility.
This is my happy place, where coffee and books meet, and I am free to be myself, to dream, to imagine, to explore new worlds and old wisdom.
Will ChatGPT make human writers obsolete?
It is unlikely that ChatGPT or any other natural language processing technology will completely replace human writers in the near future. While ChatGPT and other language models are capable of generating text that is fluent and coherent, they are not capable of the same level of creativity, insight, and emotional depth as human writers.
Additionally, writing is not just a matter of stringing together words and sentences in a coherent manner. It is a complex and multifaceted process that involves research, analysis, synthesis, and interpretation, as well as the ability to communicate ideas and emotions effectively. These are skills that are difficult for machines to replicate, and they are essential to producing high-quality writing that engages and resonates with readers.
Furthermore, writing is a deeply human activity that is tied to our identity, experiences, and emotions. It is a way of expressing ourselves, sharing our thoughts and feelings with others, and exploring the world around us. As such, writing is an important part of what makes us human, and it is unlikely that machines will ever be able to completely replace the unique perspective and voice of human writers.
Really? Natural language models are “not capable of the same level of creativity, insight, and emotional depth and human writers”. I’m honestly not so sure of that. Take the following prompt and response for example.
Write a sad philosophical paragraph about the death of a loved one:
The death of a loved one is a painful and profound loss that is difficult to understand or make sense of. When someone we love dies, we are forced to confront the fundamental fragility and impermanence of life, and to come to terms with the fact that our time on this earth is limited and uncertain. We are left with a sense of emptiness and loss that can be overwhelming, and we may struggle to find meaning or purpose in a world that feels suddenly empty and hollow.
The death of a loved one also reminds us of our own mortality, and of the fact that one day we too will die. This can be a deeply unsettling thought, and it can challenge our beliefs and assumptions about the world and our place in it. We may find ourselves questioning the value and meaning of our own lives, and wondering what will remain of us when we are gone.
At the same time, the death of a loved one can also be a source of strength and resilience. It can remind us of the value of the time we have, and of the importance of making the most of every moment. It can inspire us to live our lives with purpose and intention, and to cherish the people and things that matter most to us. In this way, the death of a loved one can be a powerful and transformative experience, one that challenges us to reevaluate our priorities and to find new meaning and purpose in life.
This is undeniably good writing. The ideas may not be new, but honestly, how many people you know are capable of writing that clearly about death?
In his Atlantic piece, Herman makes the strong claim that “What GPT can produce right now is better than the large majority of writing seen by your average teacher or professor.” I have to say I agree. And that’s scary.