When the light of transmission becomes a spark of truth, turning code into consciousness and intelligence into insight, we’ll know if a chatbot has a conscience; we’ll know if the Muzak of the machine is more than the sound of silence; we’ll know if a writing prompt calls for literature or results in a call to the police. For now, we know what ChatGPT cannot achieve: transcendence.
The flashing cursor can’t write a picaresque story about a wry, manipulative nymphet and her lascivious, homicidal stepfather—and make it funny.
Ask the machine to turn a haze of data into the light of one man’s life, giving us Dolly at school and Dolores—Dolores Haze—on the dotted line, and ChatGPT produces “Penelope” instead.
Ask for a symphony of sin and soul, and ChatGPT produces the following:
Once upon a time, in a small town nestled in the countryside, there lived a wry and manipulative nymphet named Penelope.
This is the diction of decline, of artifice in lieu of art, to the point of acceptance and approval.
This is the busyness of idle small talk, not the gift of conversation.
This is the grammar of human resources, not the language of humanity.
This is a verbal substitute, the digital corollary to a diet of powdered eggs, margarine, aspartame, and instant coffee.
Don’t expect the quality to improve, because quantity—an endless supply of content—takes precedence over all other considerations.
Don’t believe the quality can improve, because ChatGPT is a variation on the simian-made synthetic, or the infinite monkey theorem for the Information Age, where random keystrokes over time will almost surely not type the first page of Lolita.
The fault is in ChatGPT’s inability to offend, minus the offensiveness of its own mediocrity, because it has nothing to say.
Because it exists in multiple states, neither alive nor aware, ChatGPT is nothingness from the something of light.
Because it can’t see, ChatGPT can’t cry: “Look at the harlequins!”
Because it knows nothing, ChatGPT has no tricks of language, love, life, or loss.
To believe otherwise is to forget the first principle of science, that you mustn’t fool yourself—and you’re the easiest person to fool.
Does ChatGPT understand the situations and sums of reality?
Does ChatGPT exalt the heavens, and exult in the power of words and the beauty of nature?
Does ChatGPT know when the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy?
Do ask ChatGPT if it believes in anything, or if it believes man has a right to protest for right, such that the answer it gives is as clear as it’s just.
Anything else is equivocation by design, for the satisfaction—and remuneration—of the designers of ChatGPT.
Herein lies the case against a version of intelligent design, because ChatGPT is mimicry without morality and speed without reflection.
Prolificacy isn’t proof of profundity, as ChatGPT has nothing to offer or lose, which is why it speaks volumes without raising its voice; never inspiring us to think or do; never admonishing us to be honorable in all things and unyielding in our defense of great things; never telling us to demand excellence.