Monday, January 30, 2023

Will AI Replace Us?

Annamaria on Monday

The news report that inspired this blog post said that the NYC Board of Education was considering banning an Artificial Intelligence bot called ChatGPT.  The fear was that students would use the readily available AI instrument to write their homework papers for them.  I have since learned that some education institutions are requiring students to turn in handwritten papers to prevent such cheating.

When I learned that the same bot could write a "poem" in the "style" of William Shakespeare or the Declaration of Independence, I wondered if publishing houses would soon be turning to AI to produce novels, doing away with the need for messy human authors.  I also wondered if AI could write a plausible blog post.  It would have been fun to post such a thing and then own up that it was really "fake Annamaria."

Knowing, as I did, that such a tech experiment would likely be beyond my level of tech savvy, I asked Stan Trollip to give me a hand in my research.  He gave it try.  here is what ChatGPT produced for him, with his instructions in italics and the bot's responses in blue:

Give me the opening of a murder mystery set in Botswana

It was a hot summer day in Botswana when the body of local businessman, John Doe, was found in his office. The police were called to the scene and immediately began their investigation. The office showed no signs of forced entry and all valuables were left untouched, leading the detectives to believe that the murder was not a robbery gone wrong.

As the detectives began to interview employees and associates of the victim, they quickly realized that John Doe was not as well-liked as they had initially thought. Many of the people they spoke to had motives for wanting him dead.

The investigation led to many twists and turns as the detectives uncovered secrets and lies surrounding the victim's business dealings. But as the evidence piled up, one suspect stood out above the rest.

The question now was, could they prove it in court?



Regenerate the response:


It was a hot summer morning in the small village of Gaborone, Botswana. The sun was just beginning to rise over the vast savannah, casting a warm golden glow over the dusty streets. The village was still asleep, but one house was stirring. Inside, a young woman named Mma Ramotswe was getting ready for her day. She was a private detective, and she had a case to solve.

Mma Ramotswe was sitting at her small wooden desk, sipping on a cup of tea and going over her notes for the case. It was a murder case, and she had been hired by the victim's family to find the killer. The victim was a wealthy businessman, and there were many suspects. Mma Ramotswe knew that it would be a difficult case, but she was determined to find the truth.

As she was getting ready to leave her house, her assistant, Mma Makutsi, knocked on the door. Mma Makutsi was also a private detective, and she was excited to hear about the case. Together, they set off to investigate.

The first stop on their investigation was the victim's house. It was a large, luxurious mansion on the outskirts of the village. They were greeted by the victim's wife, who was still in shock over her husband's murder. She told them that she had no idea who could have killed him, and that he had no enemies.

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi spent the next few days talking to the victim's friends, family, and business associates. They soon realized that the victim had many enemies, and that the list of suspects was growing.

As they dug deeper into the case, they uncovered secrets, lies, and motives for murder. The closer they got to the truth, the more dangerous the case became. But Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi were determined to solve the case, no matter what the cost.


What happened next?


As Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi continued their investigation, they began to piece together the events leading up to the murder. They discovered that the victim had been involved in a number of shady business deals, and that many of his associates had motives for wanting him dead.

They interviewed several suspects, including a business partner who had been swindled out of a large sum of money, and a former employee who had been fired unjustly. They also talked to several of the victim's mistresses, who revealed that he had been leading a double life.

As they gathered more information, they began to suspect that the murder was not just a simple crime of passion, but a carefully planned and executed scheme. They realized that the killer may have had multiple motives, and that they were dealing with a cold and calculated criminal.

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi worked tirelessly to gather evidence, and they were eventually able to identify the killer. With the help of the local police, they were able to arrest the culprit and bring them to justice. The case was solved, and the victim's family finally had closure.

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi were hailed as heroes in the village, and their reputation as top-notch detectives spread far and wide. They continued to work together, solving many more cases and bringing criminals to justice.



 It struck me, as I am sure it did Stan, that the baldfaced bot just plagiarized Alexander McCall Smith's characters. And then Stan got it to write about Florence, and guess what.  It stole John Dunning's detective Alessandro Rossi!


Give me the start of a murder mystery set in Florence


It was a warm summer evening in Florence, Italy. The sun had just set over the city, casting a warm orange glow over the ancient streets. Tourists and locals alike were out, enjoying the beautiful weather and the many sights and sounds of the city. But one corner of the city was shrouded in darkness and mystery.

In the heart of Florence, in the Piazza del Duomo, the body of a young woman was found. She was lying on the ground, her body ravaged by stab wounds. The police were called, and they quickly cordoned off the area, trying to gather as much evidence as possible.

Detective Alessandro Rossi was put in charge of the case. He was a seasoned investigator, known for his sharp mind and his ability to solve even the most complex of cases. He knew that this case would be no exception.

Alessandro began his investigation by talking to the locals, trying to find out if anyone had seen anything suspicious. But no one had seen anything, and the murder weapon was nowhere to be found. The victim was identified as a young American woman, a student who was studying art history in the city. She had no known enemies, and her death seemed to be a random act of violence.

As Alessandro delved deeper into the case, he began to realize that the murder was not a random act of violence, but a well-planned and executed murder. He discovered that the victim had been researching a famous painting that was kept in one of the city's museums, and that her research had uncovered a dark secret.

Alessandro knew that he had to find out what that secret was if he wanted to solve the case. He began to investigate the painting and its history, and he soon realized that there were many people who had a motive for killing the young woman. He had to work fast, before the killer strikes again.

As the investigation progressed, Alessandro encountered many obstacles and setbacks, but he never gave up. He knew that he was getting closer to solving the case, and he was determined to bring the killer to justice.


Where was the student working?


The student was working at one of Florence's museums, researching a famous painting that was kept there. She was an art history student, and she had come to Florence to study the city's rich cultural heritage. She was particularly interested in the painting she was researching, and she had uncovered a dark secret about it.

Was the student working at the Uffizi gallery


It is not specified in the story that the student was working at the Uffizi Gallery, but it's possible. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous museums in Florence, and it is home to many works of art by some of the world's most renowned artists. It would make sense that an art history student would be interested in researching a painting that is kept in such a prestigious museum.



Why was the student murdered?


It's not specified in the story why the student was murdered. The story states that the student was working on a research about a famous painting in one of the city's museums and that her research had uncovered a dark secret, but the story does not reveal what that secret is and why that would lead to her murder. The story also suggests that many people had motive to kill the young woman and detective Alessandro Rossi was working on piecing together the motives and the circumstances around the murder and trying to find the killer.


The student was from New York City. Tell me more about her.


Sure, the student was from New York City, she was an art history student, who came to Florence to study the city's rich cultural heritage. She was particularly interested in the painting she was researching, and she had uncovered a dark secret about it. She was described as a young American woman, eager to learn and with a passion for art. She had no known enemies, and her death seemed to be a random act of violence. It could be that she was a bright student, dedicated to her studies, and had a close-knit family and friends back in New York City. Her sudden death would have been a shock for her loved ones, and they would have been eager for justice to be served for her.



I asked “Who was the art student working with?”  The system crashed.

With all this in hand, and the obvious conclusion that this bot in its current incarnation could not be trusted to write a publishable book, I decided to see if the bot could write an essay, rather than a story.  Let's face it, expecting it to create something completely new is a lot to ask.

Here is what I asked it, and how it responded.

This much research is certainly not enough to draw a definite conclusion about the future of bot-novelists, but if what Stan and I uncovered is indicative of AI's creative capabilities, I think most of us are safe from imminent replacement.  However, my requests of ChatGPT reveal a possible sea change in the publishing industry.  Given its definition of what constitutes good crime fiction, it may soon be aiming at the jobs of publishing executives.

I do like one thing it said about all that very much:


  1. This is quite intimidating (to me at least) given how these bots probably read, retain and regurgitate much better than any human writer could. But we'll always have more fun writing than any AI could--and surely that's going to show in the work isn't it?

    1. I didn’t mean to scare anybody, Ovidia. I apologize. To me, though, there are already too many books (and movies for that matter) that already seem as if they were written by bots. For example, in our genre, the tired, alcoholic, divorced, but oh so sympathetic police detective who is stalking a serial killer who murders women with orange nail polish who are cheating her husbands. You can even predict around what page a twist in the story will occur. There will always be an audience who wants something really human, with characters free from the rules taught to the bot. No body (or thing) could write your stories but wonderful you. No worries!!!

  2. These were horrible, but I have seen some better efforts.
    Anyway, I think we're safe. There are already plenty of writers. The problem would arise if AI starts replacing readers!

  3. I’m not really worried either, Michael. I do think—as I said to Ovidia, that there are already published books that seem as if they could have been written by bots. And we’ve all run into writers who themselves believe there is only one right way to do it. None of us here on MIE need to worry about that.

  4. Sis, the premise of my Kaldis #13--begun a year ago--is essentially AI...with chatbots on the side. it is frightening what is out there and where it's inevitably headed. The neural universe of the Chatbot is the Internet...but only portions of it are yet accessible (due to server capacity, among other reasons) but rapid developments are inevitable with all the big money players hot to to trot. The journey has just begun. Jeff

  5. I agree, Jeff. The door has been opened, but we haven't even set foot outside yet. AI tools and other as-yet unforeseen developments will change society in remarkable and unforeseeable ways. Some good, some bad, as always.

    But, just as art was irrevocably changed by the advent of the camera (end of realism, welcome impressionism, abstractionism, and of course, the art of photography and motion pictures, etc.).

    There will always be room for creativity. It just probably won't take the forms to which we're accustomed today.

  6. Interesting the bot plagiarized! I did try it myself using something similar, “murder mysteries,” I think, and it produced a reasonable but rather dry paragraph. I’ve been wondering if AI could offer a number of different twists or endings for the same story. However, I think it could be a mistake for us to assume that the AI will always be BETTER or more satisfying. That is probably at best a shaky premise, and I think some may be falling into the trap. Nevertheless, this isn’t over by any means! I’m not sure if I’m intrigued or apprehensive. A little of both, perhaps.

  7. An interesting experiment, Pat! Fortunately, for now, these read like not very good freshman comp. And the fact it more or less plagiarized Alexander McCall Smith and John Dunning reminds me of the (apocryphal?) story that the first ape who was taught sign language told a lie.

  8. I want to point out that I don't regard what I did as good exemplars of what ChatGPT can do. Each of the examples was a one-off test. With a little more experimentation etc., I'm sure I could improve the results. I do believe that apps like this are going to cause lots of headaches for many people, maybe including writers.