Sunday, December 31, 2023

Welcoming the New Year with AI

I asked ChatGPT to write my monthly essay a few weeks ago. I first asked if it could write an essay, and it replied "Please provide me a topic or a prompt and I'll be happy to generate a 400-word essay for you." How about that? It would be happy. My prompt: "Wrapping up the old year and welcoming the new year."

The words poured out of the ChatGPT window quickly and assuredly. Put it this way: it "generated" 400 words faster than it took me to write the title to this post. The essay it generated had this opening sentence: As the final days of the year unfold, it is a natural inclination for individuals to engage in reflection, taking stock of the events that transpired over the past twelve months. (To see the rest, click here.)

This essay request is my latest foray with AI. Earlier in the year an old friend asked if I was up to date on AI, and I sheepishly admitted that I was not. I was in the camp of being against it, though I was curious about its recent hype. In the Summer, after a co-worker expressed great enthusiasm for it, I finally logged into Bard and gave it a spin.

I first used AI for looking up technical details I would normally search with Google. LMGTFY is a meme after all! The AI robots have a very confident presentation in their answers. When I type their code or commands in, most of the time their excerpts work! Of course, when they don't work I have to scroll through Google results or use my brain.

Writing essays and doing drawings was something I knew AI could do. I liked what the AI produced for me, but it ended its essay with this sentence: In conclusion, wrapping up the old year and welcoming the new year is a profound and universal experience that unites humanity in reflection and anticipation.

I didn't like the phrase "In conclusion". Too stuffy! Also, it was a bit repetitive. The more I read the essay, the more I found it sterile, and lacking in personality. I like to think that a regular reader of my writing would be able to tell if I decided to replace my writing with an AI's writing. 

What I liked though were the AI's ideas. I liked its conclusion that the year end is not just a "temporal event", but merely a step in our "continuous journey" of growth. I agree with it. I know that the AI is not thinking these ideas, but one day when it does start thinking and writing on its own, I'd prompt it to give me another draft!