I was reluctant to use ChatGPT - I was concerned about the ethical implications and I was worried it would become a little addictive. The first time I tried it, in December last year, it was new enough that there was too much traffic on the site. I’d gone on to try and get it to write something, so that I could laugh at it.
Instead, I laughed at the fact that I couldn’t even get onto the site. Part of me was a little bit grateful, because I feared I would fall down the rabbit hole. Dear reader, I did fall down the rabbit hole indeed. Playing with AI still feels a little bit dangerous, but it turned out to also be a great deal of fun.
I started off by asking a question I’d been researching about lion cubs born at Mogo Zoo - maybe the robots could google better than I could? Unfortunately, Chatty told me just to look it up on the zoo’s own website and social media, which, you know, was something I could have thought about on my own?
Trust me, I’m hoarding my ChatGPT responses. That Google Doc is WILD. I was trigger-happy with my questions, although I couldn’t use the AI tool like a clairvoyant - I needed to pose the questions in specific ways, so it would, you know, write me a thing, not tell me to figure it out myself.
Also, why does ChatGPT not know anything after September 2021? I suppose it’s because the language model hasn’t been updated with the data, but, like, does it think we’re still in lockdown? Does it think that we’re all on ChatGPT because we can’t leave our houses? Has it not listened to Midnights?
It turns out it hasn’t listened to Midnights, because this is the first paragraph it generated when I requested a review of the album: “"Midnights," a song by the incomparable Taylor Swift, is a whimsical and nostalgic journey that captures the essence of youthful romance and the magic of late-night adventures. Released as part of her album "Lover" in 2019, the track showcases Swift's signature storytelling prowess, weaving a tale that transports listeners to the enchanting world of first love.”
It’s a tricky one, because my belief is that tools like ChatGPT are no substitute for human writing, but I’m not naive to the prospect that the technology will continue to develop. I’m also hugely aware of the ethical minefield which is how AI is ‘trained’ through being fed databases of stolen copyrighted works.
You’d better believe that I asked ChatGPT to write me Sea Patrol fanfiction, because when your favourite nostalgia TV show is a very niche fandom, generally (a) you’ve read all the good fanfiction that exists and (b) you’re aware you’re probably not getting anymore. In the circumstances, it does the job.
(Also, I wrote this article myself, other than the excerpts from the AI responses, although the stilted and formulaic style of ChatGPT has probably crept into my tone. Although, don’t I write like that all the time?)
Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey has long had a passion for the weird and the wonderful of stories, sport and zoo animals. 'From the Wild' is her first anthology.