I cannot tell a lie: Chat GPT wrote a chunk of today's column | Average Joe

Maybe you’ve heard about the revolutionary artificial intelligence tool Chat GPT, which cranks out “original” writing upon request. If you haven’t, it’s time to catch up on what technology hath wrought.

It’s clever, for sure – perhaps the most advanced breakthrough since the calculator in the field of donotwanttodomyhomeworkology.

Plenty of folks warn, however, that this kind of innovation pushes us dangerously closer to the brink of Big Brother. You feed it a concept that you want it to write about, and it taps into both the vast resources of the internet and a knowledge base of language patterns to craft a sufficiently readable response.

So, yes, it seems like a dream come true for any kid who ever quivered at the feet of a monstrous essay question. But let the user beware: Your bot ghostwriter still has so much to learn about mimicking actual people. You might think it’s spinning literary gold, but your teacher probably has another name for it: Rubbish-stiltskin.

Have you tried out Chat GPT yet?

Here’s an example of how Chat GPT works.

I instructed it to summarize the concept of Barberton chicken. The response:

“Barberton chicken is a unique style of fried chicken that originated in Barberton, Ohio, in the United States. It is typically made by dredging chicken pieces in a seasoned flour mixture, then dipping them in an egg wash before coating them in a mixture of flour, salt, and paprika. The chicken is then deep-fried until crispy and served with hot sauce and lemon wedges.”

Not a terrible overview, and – I checked – not ripped straight from Wikipedia. But that information was harvested from somewhere.

If your thought process is like mine, though, you can’t resist testing the wider possibilities with increasingly complex queries. It’s a dangerous side road, because you can spend hours commissioning the most numbingly ridiculous writing you’ve ever seen. (To my cranky pen pal in Fairlawn, I’ll save you the email postage and acknowledge that, as far you’re concerned, that distinction still belongs to my columns.)

I plugged in lots of scenarios. I asked for a hypothetical conversation between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and the Green M&M, and it returned a cordial, respectful exchange.

I asked for dialogue in a scenario in which Elon Musk and Donny Osmond are racing each other for the last doughnut on a plate, and Chat GPT wrote a cordial, respectful exchange.

And I wondered what it would be like if MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow sat down to talk about values with Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Another cordial, respectful exchange.

Chat GPT gets how language and information work, but it doesn’t quite get human beings.

Or comic strip animals.

Chat GPT takes a whack at scripting Snoopy

Could Chat GPT stand in for the late Charles M. Schulz as a creator of a new “Peanuts” cartoon?

I proposed that it write a script for a Sunday funnies installment in which Snoopy and Woodstock are aboard the World War I flying ace’s Sopwith Camel, and Snoopy explains to Woodstock the dangers of texting while flying. Here’s what Chat GPT returned:

Panel 1: Snoopy is seen sitting in the cockpit of his Sopwith Camel airplane with a cell phone in his paw, while Woodstock is perched on the wing. The airplane is flying through the clouds.

Snoopy: (texting on his cell phone) Just a sec, Woodstock. I have to reply to this text message.

Panel 2: Woodstock is looking worried, while Snoopy is still texting.

Woodstock: (thought bubble) Is it safe to text while flying?

Panel 3: Snoopy finishes texting and looks up, noticing that the airplane is heading towards a storm cloud.

Snoopy: (startled) Oh no!

Panel 4: Snoopy drops his phone and quickly tries to regain control of the airplane, while Woodstock is holding on to the wing for dear life.

Snoopy: (panicked) Woodstock, we're headed towards a storm cloud! Hang on tight!

Panel 5: The airplane is seen flying through the storm cloud, with lightning flashing all around.

Snoopy: (thinking to himself) I should have known better than to text while flying.

Panel 6: The airplane emerges from the storm cloud, and Snoopy is seen holding his cell phone, which has a cracked screen.

Snoopy: (shaking his head) Texting while flying is dangerous. I won't do it again.

Panel 7: Woodstock is seen looking relieved, while Snoopy looks sheepish.

Woodstock: (thought bubble) I'm glad we made it out okay.

Snoopy: (thinking to himself) I need to remind myself to always prioritize safety when flying.

Panel 8: The airplane is seen flying away, with Snoopy holding up a sign that reads, "Don't Text and Fly!" Snoopy: (thinking to himself) I hope this message will remind other pilots to avoid distracted flying.

Woodstock: (thought bubble) Good message, Snoopy!

ANNND ... scene! At this point, I’m hopping up and down like an investigator foiling a criminal suspect’s alibi.

“Your first mistake,” I boastfully announce, “was assigning Woodstock any decipherable dialogue whatsoever!”

If Chat GPT understood “Peanuts,” it would know that any time Woodstock tweets, it comes across as a series of unintelligible scratch marks. (For this reason, I believe Woodstock ought to be revered as the godfather of social media.)

Snoopy, meanwhile, gets loaded down with such preachy thought bubbles that it might as well be Linus on top of that doghouse.

Shallow compositions can be had for a song

Chat GPT also fancies itself quite the lyricist. It’s wonderful for haikus. Can it write a sonnet? Sure! A good one? Well ... it may be a bit bland, but you can bet it will be cordial and respectful.

Try it out for yourself. Ask it to write four new verses for Billy Joel’s historical headline rap “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” covering 1990 to the present.

Or a new song as if written for Lizzo, riffing on workplace nuisances. Does Chat GPT seem to comprehend her style enough to emulate her passably?

Chat GPT will try to do these things, albeit cordially and respectfully.

But if it has humankind pegged as perpetually good-natured, it is oh so naïve.

Just ask anyone who dares to cordially and respectfully use Chat GPT to cheat.

Better yet, why don't we let Chat GPT weigh in on the topic of academic delinquency.

I asked the bot to compose a haiku about plagiarism. Here’s its response:

“Copying ideas./A theft of another’s thoughts./Plagiarism’s shame.”

Good message, Chat GPT!

When he isn’t toiling away as the Beacon Journal metro editor, you can occasionally find Joe Thomas musing about everyday life as the Average Joe. Reach him at jthomas@thebeaconjournal.com

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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Heard about Chat GPT? Average Joe puts writing bot through its paces