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Even Better Than the Real Thing?

Even Better Than the Real Thing?

In part three of our series on artificial intelligence (AI), Jules Badger asks whether the discerning among us can tell the difference between content produced by ChatGPT and that of a human writer—and does it really matter?

I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has asked me if I’m concerned about being out of a job as a writer because of the introduction of ChatGPT. The answer to that question is obviously yes, I am concerned. So lately I’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT to see just what I’m up against. In fact, I even asked it to write me a 100-word brief on why writers should be concerned about ChatGPT taking over their jobs. The reply I got was bold and alarming: ‘ChatGPT is a powerful artificial intelligence system that can generate high-quality text on any topic, genre or style. Writers should be concerned about ChatGPT taking over their jobs because ChatGPT can do almost everything that writers can do, maybe even better.’ I wasn’t impressed with that cheeky response—a bit too confident for my liking! But it wasn’t finished: ‘ChatGPT is a formidable competitor for writers who want to make a living from their craft.’

Yikes! Could that be true? Is my time as a writer under threat and perhaps coming to an end? Could the future of SALT be articles written entirely by AI? This of course begs the question for you as a reader: do you want to read articles written by a real human or by AI? Would you know the difference? And furthermore, could I, as a writer, be able to spot something written by AI? How much stock should I put in these predictions of AI?

ChatGPT must be fed data, and when it comes to writing it has been and continues to be trained on a variety of texts protected by copyright laws. One of the ethical concerns with ChatGPT, therefore, is its potential to infringe on intellectual property rights. If asked to write a poem, it may well produce something that resembles or even copies other work. Furthermore, I can’t help but wonder how ChatGPT could possibly describe an experience it’s never had without it sounding trite and manufactured. Surely anyone could spot the lack of lyrical authenticity?

I asked ChatGPT to write me a 50-word poem about the person of Jesus. The result was so cheesy—metaphors were mixed and it used very lazy and obvious rhyming couplets. So I refined the prompts, asking it to write me a poem about Jesus that expresses the personal experience of finding the light of Christ, using one key metaphor and including internal rhyme. The result was less terrible, but still cringey. The rhyming couplets persisted and while it stayed with the one metaphor (the light), it was predictable and there was an over-abundance of cliché. Perhaps I’m not out of a job quite yet!

One of the key reasons that so many of us love the Psalms is because we resonate with the emotions expressed and the questions asked of God—often when in deep despair and anguish. Psalms of lament enable us to move from pain to promise. This is not poetry that initially impresses us stylistically, but poetry that moves us because we connect with the emotions expressed. I was skeptical that AI could ever ‘learn’ to mimic this depth of human emotion, so I asked it how can ChatGPT express human emotion and experience in poetry when it is not human and has not personally experienced these emotions? The response was surprisingly insightful and somewhat of a relief.

‘To express human emotion and experience in poetry, one needs to be able to understand and empathise with the emotions and experiences of others. While ChatGPT is an AI language model that can generate text, it does not have emotions or experiences of its own. However, ChatGPT has been trained on a vast corpus of human language data, which includes poetry and other forms of creative writing. As a result, it can generate poetry that is stylistically similar to human-written poetry. ChatGPT is a tool that can help generate poetry, but it is not a substitute for human creativity and emotion. To create truly authentic and emotionally resonant poetry, you will need to draw from your own experiences and emotions.’ It even added a jaunty ‘Good luck!’

We know that AI can learn and adapt, and that over time it will get better at mimicking human emotion and experience. Will it get better at writing poems? Only time will tell. Can AI ever replace the work of the Spirit that inspired the Psalms? I think not. But could the Holy Spirit work through AI? Now there’s a question! We know there’s a holy transaction that takes place when the Spirit of God is involved, and that God can use unexpected methods to get our attention.

At the same time, I don’t think I’ll be losing my job as a Spirit-led writer for SALT to artificial intelligence quite yet.

ChatGPT Writes a Poem About Jesus

Here is the second poem that Jules asked ChatGPT to write, the prompt being write me a poem about Jesus that expresses the personal experience of finding the light of Christ, using one key metaphor, and including internal rhyme.

In the darkness of my soul, I wandered lost, without a goal.
But then I saw the light of Christ, And all my fears were sacrificed.

His love was like a beacon bright, Guiding me through the darkest night.
His grace was like a gentle breeze, That brought me to my bended knees.

He is the shepherd of my heart, Leading me to a brand new start.
He is the rock that I can cling, When life’s storms come thundering.

So let me walk in His sweet light, And keep my faith forever bright.
For in His love, I find my peace, And all my worries, they slowly cease.

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