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ChatGPT and the wrath of human blight (or should it be the blight of human wrath?)

March 26, 2023

ChatGPT continues to amuse. In my second session with the app, I decided to ask it for a hundred words on climate change – first in the style of Shakespeare, then Dylan Thomas and finally Donald Trump. Here’s what came out.


The earth, once fair and full of life’s delight,
Doth now endure the wrath of human blight.
The air, the sea, the land, all in despair,
As climate change, with fury, doth ensnare.

With heedless haste, we spew forth toxic fumes,
And reap the whirlwind of our careless dooms.
But yet, a glimmer of hope doth remain,
That we may yet undo this dire refrain.

Renewable ways and mindful hearts may lead,
To a future bright, where all may thrive and feed.
Oh climate change, we shall not rest or cease,
Till we bring back the earth, to a state of peace.

Next, Dylan Thomas:

Climate change, the raging force that breaks,
Like waves that crash and leave in their wake,
A trail of destruction, a world undone,
As we march towards a setting sun.

The earth, once teeming with life and light,
Now struggles against an endless night,
As we continue to plunder and exploit,
Without a thought to the damage wrought.

But hope remains, a flicker in the dark,
A chance to make amends and heal the stark
Realities we face, with courage and grace,
And turn the tide before it’s too late.

And Donald Trump, whom the app has unexpectedly turned into a poet:

Climate change, it’s a hoax, folks, a total scam,
Fake news, from the left-wing media, all part of a plan,
To take away our jobs, and make us all pay,
For something that’s not even real, I say.

The climate’s always changing, it’s nothing new,
And there’s no proof that humans are causing it, too.
We need to focus on jobs, and making money,
Not on some phony baloney, environmental gobbledygook, honey.

So let’s not be fooled, by these liberal elites,
And their fancy talk of carbon footprints and greenhouse heat.
We’ll keep on drilling, and pumping gas,
And we’ll make America great again, you can bet your ass.

It took less than five seconds to churn out the above. Now I’m neither a poet nor an informed critic of poetry. The last time I was asked to write about Shakespeare or Dylan Thomas was when I was fifteen, which is a long time ago. So I leave any hole-picking on these verses to others. But what I will say is that if I read them in passing, I’d probably be fooled into thinking they were the real thing, assuming that climate change was a issue in 1590 or 1950.

As for Donald Trump, ChatGPT has clearly gobbled up all the usual Trumpisms and siphoned them into a hundred words to impressive effect. The result would do credit to a 12-year-old from Waco, Texas producing their first bit of poetry. I especially like the gloriously gauche rhyming of money with honey, not to mention elites and heat. I also wonder whether he, she, they or it (for surely I must find a suitable pronoun for an app that speaks human) borrowed something from Pink Floyd’s Money – “it’s a gas…” and so on – for its Trump impersonation.

You can pick and choose the news outlets challenging you to tell the difference between AI-generated stuff and that produced by humans without assistance. The Washington Post is the latest. But leaving Trump aside, I think it’s significant that most of us read stuff in passing. Does that mean that we’re easily fooled, or do we skim anything that passes a superficial recognition test – and only if it causes us to pause on grounds of obvious error or dissonant language do we take a closer look?

It depends on our level of interest, I guess. In other words, are we likely to be fooled by stuff that’s important to us? Or, if for example we’ve bought into the Trump nonsense, will ChatGPT take us further into the realm of what we want to believe?

One thought keeps occurring, even though it’s not a new one. Is this the death of school coursework? If it’s so easy to construct a piece of writing, even with a few edits, what test is that of intellect or attainment? And even if examiners were able to do a plagiarism test on every piece of work submitted, how do they mark such work? Perhaps we shall return to the results of an invigilated exam as the overwhelming indicator of knowledge. Handwritten only – no hiding places there. Either that or observation of collaborative work, which is more akin to modern job selection techniques. But I’m sure the professional educators are ahead of me on these questions.

Two things are for sure. First, political speechwriters, for the most part, will find themselves out of a job. They’ll be replaced by skilled editors whose job is to put the pop into the pap.

And second, there’s one sure way to tell whether anything published in this blog comes through the good graces of ChatGPT or from my own hand. Just look for my typos, deliberate or otherwise….

  1. Rohini sunderam permalink

    Superb and scary, Steve. I haven’t yet tried it. It writes better than some folk I know, though!

    • Sorry for the late reply Rohini. Yes, a bit scary. Still thinking about the implications… S

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