As someone who wrote chatbots as a kid, and who finished an AI degree nearly 20 years ago and then left the world of AI but still keeps vaguely up-to-date, I continue to be absolutely floored by ChatGPT. I feel like we can’t help but treat it as a toy, and become blase about the quality of its responses, but when we step back and realize that the idea of a chatbot being able to respond like this would have been absolutely laughable ten years ago, well, it’s pretty incredible.
I was thinking it would be fun for anyone interested to post some good ChatGPT exchanges.
Here’s my first, on The Hitchhiker’s Guide:
S: Pretend you are an alien who needs to destroy the Earth in order to build a new hyperspace bypass. Write a letter to humanity to explain the situation.
I am writing to inform you that, unfortunately, your planet Earth will soon be destroyed. As an alien from a far-off galaxy, I have been tasked with building a new hyperspace bypass, and your planet is the only suitable location for this project. I know that this news may come as a shock to you, but please understand that we have no choice in the matter.
I want to assure you that we do not take this decision lightly, and we have done everything in our power to find an alternative solution. However, after a thorough analysis of the galaxy, we have determined that Earth is the only suitable location for the bypass.
I know that this news will cause great distress and sadness among your people, and I offer my sincerest apologies for the inconvenience and loss that you will experience. However, please know that we are doing this for the greater good of the galaxy, and we hope that you can find some comfort in that.
Sincerely, An Alien
S: Write a rap song from the perspective of Arthur Dent
I’m Arthur Dent, the last man standing
Trapped in space, my planet demanding
I’ve got a towel and a sense of humor
But things ain’t looking too good, rumor
Arthur Dent, ain’t got no home
Stuck in space, all alone
But I’ll keep my head held high
Gonna survive, gonna try
They told me Earth was gonna blow
But I didn’t believe them, no way, no how
Now I’m floating through the stars
Wondering what the hell I am
Don’t know where I’m going,
don’t know what I’ll find
But I’ll keep on searching, keep my spirit alive
I may be lost, but I’m not giving up
I’ll keep on fighting, till my time is up
Arthur Dent, the last man standing
Trapped in space, but still demanding
I’ll keep on fighting, till the end
Gonna make it through, my friend
S: In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the meaning of life is “42”. Why do you think the author chose this?
The author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, chose the number “42” as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything because it is a number that has no meaning or significance. In the book, a supercomputer named Deep Thought is asked to calculate the answer to this question, and after millions of years of calculation, it arrives at the answer of “42.” The point of this is to show that the search for meaning and understanding in the universe is ultimately futile, and that the answers we seek may be completely meaningless. By choosing a random and insignificant number as the answer, Adams is making a commentary on the human need to find meaning and purpose in the world, and the futility of that search.
S: If you were Douglas Adams and had to pick a different answer, what else might you have chosen?
If I were Douglas Adams and wanted to choose a funny answer for the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, I might have gone with something like:
- The answer is “bananas,” to play off the common expression “going bananas” and the idea that the search for meaning in the universe may be a little crazy.
- The answer is “a sandwich,” to emphasize the idea that even something as simple and mundane as a sandwich can be deeply satisfying, and that the search for meaning in the universe may be missing the point.
- The answer is “42 plus one,” to play off the original answer of “42” and suggest that even the most definitive answers may be incomplete or subject to change.
Ultimately, the choice of a funny answer would depend on the specific context and tone of the book, and the humor would have to be carefully balanced with the other themes and ideas being explored.