A few days ago, as I was driving through the City of St. Louis and scanning the local radio stations, my brain caught on a conversation about ChatGPT and dead opossums. If you have been paying much attention around the water cooler lately, you’ve probably heard about ChatGPT. It’s the AI app that will quickly compose an email for you or help you solve that tricky math problem. It can give you the illusion of companionship, tell you a joke, write an essay for your English class, and offer useful advice like that you probably shouldn’t cheat on your English essay.
I’m told it can even put together a blog post, but as the creative mind behind this blog has been artificially intelligent for years, I’m not sure there’d be much call for it in my little corner of the blogosphere. And yes, though I didn’t catch enough of the conversation to know why one might want this, ChatGPT can also compose lyrics for a song about dead opossums, or presumably also live opossums that are playing dead. It can even do it in a much shorter time period than your average folksinger, most of whom would likely never attempt to write one in the first place.
Personally, I’ve never used the app, and at this moment in time, I believe I never will, but it’s fascinating to listen to people talk about it. For most, it seems to be a bit like watching a horror movie. It’s super creepy and it makes your heart pound and your stomach hurt as your mind gnaws on the notion that human creativity appears as dead as an opossum. But on the other hand, it’s also kind of cheesy and entertaining and pairs well with popcorn.
There’s no doubt that AI is exploding onto the scene, but it’s been on the rise for years, beginning in the 1950s when computers were first able to store and retrieve data in addition to simply running through a program. The concept of artificial intelligence stretches back even further than that to at least 1872 to English writer Samuel Butler’s Erewhon.
The novel tells the tale of protagonist Higgs who discovers a hidden Utopia filled with people who are remarkably concerned about his pocket watch. It turns out that three hundred years before Higgs’s arrival, the Erewhonians gave up all technology, including pocket watches, for fear that it would evolve to eventually overcome the human race.
At the time the novel was published, and for many years after, it was assumed to be a commentary on the evolutionary work of Charles Darwin. It probably was, but from the perspective of 2023, it might read a little more like an incredibly insightful horror novel that is difficult to get through because it was written in the 19th century and as a result probably seems sort of dull to most 21st century readers.
I bet it could be nicely modernized by ChatGPT if anyone wanted to give it a try. Throw in a nice song about dead opossums, and you might just have a great work on your hands.
15 thoughts on “Creativity Plays Opossum”
This makes me think of an old-time radio show called “X minus 1” that aired an interesting story in Dec of 1955. It was a dramatization of a story by Murray Leinster called “A Logic Named Joe. It’s 26 minutes long.
You can read the story here: http://www.baen.com/chapters/W200506/0743499107___2.htm
Sci fi has been playing around with this theme for a long time. This one is fairly delightful but also kind of scary. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome. It’s especially weird to think how long ago the original story was written.
Yes, we’ve had a long time to think through the possible consequences of developing AI, and yet, here we are.
Soon our robot selves will be checking the “I am not a human” box.
That’s a thought. I wonder if my robot self will find it any easier to click all the boxes that contain any piece of a fire hydrant or read all those wonky letters.
It’s crazy how fast this technology is advancing. I don’t see myself using it (I like coming up with stuff on my own), but it’s rapidly becoming an issue in the writing world, so I’m sure I will be confronted with it at some point!
Yes, I’m sure. At this point, I don’t think it’s supposed to be very successful creating longer works, but it’s developing so quickly. It won’t be long.
My worry with AI is that it doesn’t care how it achieves what it’s asked to do. There’s that scene in ‘Rick and Morty’ where Rick’s AI car is asked to keep his grand-daughter safe. Ouch. I envisage a nightmare scenario involving a next-gen AI (which probably arrived last week, given the pace of these things) the financial markets system, and some idiot asking the AI to ‘make me rich’.
I imagine there are many, many ways this can go sideways on us.
It’s going that way. Whoever or whatever Government has the better AI will win
And humanity will lose.
Yes indeedy. I hope you had a lovely weekend Sarah
The thing for me above plagiarism and the eradication of meritocracy, that is scary about this, is such a program can tell Governments what to do and what to think that will win them more votes.
So many things to consider.