What a Brave New World we live in, my friends! Today, in preparation for my sermon here at "The Gods Are Bored," I had another lively chat with ChatGPT. Here are the results.
This is my second post about ChatGPT. It's an AI text-generating software that is available for free to any high school kid who needs to write an essay about that novel they didn't read. You can even put it on a 9th grade setting, to get text that has mistakes in it!
Today the English department at my school had a meeting with our district's Assistant Senior Superintendent. The ASS came to our meeting specifically to inform us that our district will not be blocking the ChatGPT app or any other text-generating AI app. The ASS sniffed, "Go back to using paper and pencil. Do you have enough paper? I can order paper."
Friends, I can't make this shit up.
Even I, Anne Johnson, who have only been teaching 13 years can recall a time when essays were written by hand, and only the final draft was typed out on a clunky desktop computer. My students were never willing to re-write, revise, expand, or edit their work. And who could blame them? A revision involved putting a red carat at the end of a sentence and slapping a series of sticky notes on the draft. I hadn't done that myself since 1975! Now, with Google Docs, I can say to a student, "Why don't you look at that second paragraph and offer another example and some more insight?" And I get it.
I guess you can't blame me for taking my umbrage to the source of the problem: ChatGPT. I opened a new account and asked it, "Should a 9th grade student use ChatGPT to write an essay?" And of course it expounded brilliantly on how it is not in any way a substitute for true critical thinking and creativity. Well! Humility! One loves seeing that in artificial intelligence, since it is so often missing in the human race.
No surprises there. So next I asked it some specifics about how shoes are used as symbols in the novel The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros. The House on Mango Street often appears on lists of Best Books of the 20th Century, and deservedly so. It's positively brilliant.
Not only could ChatGPT not identify how shoes are used as symbols in the book, it gave inaccurate quotes and glaringly wrong information about the text. This lil bot is surfing the web and latching onto inaccuracies that it then spouts as truths.
Emboldened, I asked ChatGPT about another novel I teach, Forged by Fire, by Sharon Draper. The bot did even worse with this lesser-known book. The stepfather became an older brother (?) for one thing.
What I loved was that, when I pointed out to ChatGPT that it was wrong, it apologized and promised to do better. Maybe that's why my district's ASS likes it so much -- it's a suck-up.
Then I got another idea. Remember how I asked it if the Gods were bored, and it said "blah blah blah" instead of a simple YES? Today I specifically asked it about my blog.
Anne's Question: What is the blog "The Gods Are Bored" about?
ChatGPT's Answer: I am unable to determine the specific blog you are referring to as my training data only goes up until 2021 and "The Gods Are Bored" could refer to a number of different blogs or websites. However, a blog with a similar title could be about religion, spirituality, mythology, or other related topics. The blogger might explore different beliefs and practices from around the world and offer their own perspective and insights on these subjects. The "bored" aspect of the title could suggest that the blogger is looking at these topics with a critical eye and perhaps finds certain aspects of religious beliefs and practices to be tedious or lacking in engagement. Without more specific information or access to the actual blog, it is difficult to say what the exact focus or tone of "The Gods Are Bored" might be.
Dang! The Smithsonian didn't want me, and neither does ChatGPT! And then it has the cheek to imagine what the blog *might* be about! HA HA! BAMMMP!!! WRONG, YOU STUPID BOT! This peerless blog is a channel to bored deities from multiple pantheons over millennia of recorded history!
Sorry this sermon is so long. But here are my encouraging takeaways:
1. ChatGPT doesn't read books. It couldn't tell me what color Esperanza's shoes were, even though she describes the same shoes three times in a 100-page book.
2. Chat GPT doesn't have access to my blog. I remain inscrutable to it.
3. Finally, after all these years of begging y'all to send me loose leaf paper, my ASS is going to order reams and reams of it. Oh, the irony.
I have one last message for both my ASS and ChatGPT, and I'll give it as only a Super Bowl-Bound Eagles fan can do it: