The Creation of An A.I. Adam
I am going to confess right here and now that I did not write this week’s edition of TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less. After all, why should I, when I can just get a computer to do it for me? With the proliferation of ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence software that replicates human speech and creates actual text from a user-given prompt, writers like me are soon to be a thing of the past, a throwback to a bygone era where people actually did things for themselves, including thinking. Oh, but how tedious is all of that? With the advent of artificial intelligence powerful enough to create essays and term papers at any level of proficiency within the realms of academia and beyond, students of the modern era will be unburdened of the cumbersome need to actually think and write for themselves. But should they be?
You’ll have to excuse me on this one, but as an English teacher for over twenty years, I think there might just be some cause for concern here. ChatGPT can not only mimic the preferred academic level of the user, but because it is original writing as the case may be, it is virtually indistinguishable as being derived from any source other than the user and would-be purported author. In other words, plagiarism and cheating are about to take a giant leap forward. So excuse me for thinking that technology might not always be such good thing after all.
Of course the geniuses that dreamt this up could have been applying their sizable intellects towards applications that might actually further humankind, but instead, like so many other technological developments in this era, saw more profit in taking just one more task off the plates of people who apparently find themselves so horrendously overburdened that they just can’t be expected to do all the things people have had to do before them, you know, like writing something for themselves. Surely, these folks will pander to the public by extolling the virtues their software will have in corporate America where ChatGPT can be used to proliferate emails, reports, filling taxes and other types of typical business communication, and thus make companies and their workers more efficient. But we all know where their bread is really buttered, and it’s in the thousands of high school and college students who just don’t feel like writing their own damn papers. Writing, after all, is hard, and this just isn’t a “do the hard thing” generation.
If we applied as much of our ingenuity and resources towards projects that would truly benefit humanity, as we do towards creating technology that keeps us from having to actually do shit, I am pretty sure we could have cured cancer and solved climate change by now. But instead we are too busy building machines that make our coffee, maintain our schedules, compose our music, and walk our dogs to worry about any of that. In Tokyo, they even have a toilet that will clean your ass for you after you defecate. I’m just waiting for them to come up with artificial intelligence that will raise your kids and exercise for you so that you could really kick back and take it easy. You know there’d be big money in that.
And that’s just the point. Our profit motive continues to demonstrate that we clearly prefer to make life easier than we do to making it better, or dare I say, healthier, How many tasks of everyday living are we going to turn over to artificial intelligence? What else do we not feel like doing? Or perhaps more appropriately, what the hell do we still actually feel like doing? Because these days, it’s beginning to feel like the answer lies in a whole lot of nothing.
And while throwing our feet up on the desk and kicking back with a fruity margarita might sound like one heck of a grand idea, at some point along our descent into decadence, we have to recognize that we are trading away a piece of our own humanity. While many folks struggle with writing and absolutely hate it, putting words on paper (ok, that paper reference definitely dates me a bit) is a form of personal expression. Handing that over to a computer is forsaking your right to say something about the world, however menial and mundane that expression may be.
In his seminal text on the purpose of human life entitled Man’s Search for Meaning, philosopher and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl once wrote that, “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” More and more, we are giving up both the tasks and goals of life and handing them over to our artificial brethren. By having devices perform all of our tasks for us, we are inherently losing a little piece of our soul, the things that make us human.
But hey, how would I know? I’m not even human. I’m just a ChatGPT bot that Steven paid to write this crap so that he could hang out on the beach in Mexico. Next Thursday, he’s having me write about hypocrisy.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com