Monday, March 20, 2023

Chat GPT Version 4

 ... is simply unreal.

ChatGPT rolled out a completely new version of their product and I've been playing with it, writing Arthurian fanfic and working on my Hardy Boys takeoff. It is simply unreal. It has a prompt limit and you can only ask it for 25 things every 4 hours. Thank God for that or I would never leave my study.

I've been experimenting with it to understand how to make better prompts and keeping a file of character descriptions for my novel. As I work with it and then correct it, I refine the characters so the AI produces the story I have in my mind. It's simply fabulous. So far, I've been working with four characters, using dialog vignettes to correct it and add to my file where I keep their descriptions.

ChatGPT treats each session as an isolated event. That is, if I write a story about Bobbylee in one session and a story about Angus in a different session, ChatGPT can't cross-reference them. It's up to me to collate my character, setting and mood definitions myself to use them in the novel. This makes it difficult to branch a story and experiment with different developments. 

If I go back to an earlier event and try something new, it obliterates everything after that and starts fresh from that point. I wrote myself into a corner in an Arthurian piece and had no choice but to wipe it out and start from the place I liked. I've got a Chrome plugin that will save my ChatGPT sessions to a text file so I've got a copy of my prompts and its replies so I can recreate the thing from scratch if I want. That's annoying because of the interaction limits. 

If they charged 10x as much for unlimited interactions, I'd pay it. I imagine many others would, too. In fact, I would bet it's very price inelastic. I'm guessing that because of the processing power limitations, they need to set those limits.

At any rate, with my novel, I've discovered that I can act as a movie director. I define the characters and then prompt it with plot developments and word-length section definitions. I'm working on defining Bobbylee the redneck, Angus the Aussie and Jimmy the Hardy Boys clone right now. Here are some samples. I've also added one of their teachers, Ms. Scharnhorst. I'm naming all of the public school staff after Kriegsmarine ships and officers. Hey, if they're going to go full Nazi, I might as well give them appropriate names.


write a 300-word section where the three boys, hanging around bobbylee's old pickup truck discuss the possibility that the professor plans to bring down the water tower and flood part of the town. jimmy thinks the professor wants to ruin parts of the town to make his own real estate more valuable. angus just thinks he's a wanker and adds some more aussie insults. bobbylee quotes something from chesterton that dazes jimmy until snaps out of it.

write a 200-word section where angus brings up ms scharnhorst's most recent rant about toxic whiteness and the boys make fun of her


Vignette 1:

Bobbylee leaned against his old pickup truck, adjusting his Confederate forage cap as he chewed on a piece of straw. "I reckon we oughta consider somethin' real peculiar," he drawled. "That ol' professor might be fixin' to bring down the water tower, floodin' part of our town."

Jimmy frowned, his eyes narrowing in thought. "Gosh, that's a wild idea, Bobbylee. But why would he do that?"

"Well," Bobbylee scratched his chin, "I reckon it's 'cause he wants to make his own land more valuable, ya know? With all that chaos, he could swoop in and buy up some prime real estate."

Angus scoffed, rolling his eyes. "That bloke's just a bloody wanker," he spat. "He's got a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock, if you ask me."

Bobbylee chuckled, then suddenly quoted Chesterton in his thick Southern drawl, "‘Evil always takes advantage of ambiguity.' That there, Jimmy, means the professor's up to no good with all them secrets and confusions."

Jimmy's eyes glazed over as he tried to decipher the quote. After a moment, he shook his head to clear it. "Wow, Bobbylee, you always come up with the most profound things. Anyway, let's get down to business and figure out what that kooky professor is up to."

Vignette 2:

As the boys lounged by the truck, Angus snickered. "Did y'all hear Ms. Scharnhorst's latest rant about toxic whiteness? She's a few stubbies short of a six-pack, that one."

Jimmy rolled his eyes. "Jeepers, she's always going on about that stuff. It's hard to take her seriously."

Bobbylee chimed in, his accent dripping with sarcasm. "Yeah, she's like a hound dog tryin' to chase two rabbits at once. You can't rightly tell what she's after, but it sure is entertainin' to watch."

Angus let out a hearty laugh. "Too right, mate. She's as mad as a cut snake, that one. You reckon she'll ever figure out which way's up?"

"Nah," Jimmy grinned. "She's too busy tryin' to change the world to notice she's the one who's all mixed up."


ms scharnhorst is a strange figure. you can't tell if she's a woman using her hairstyle and clothes to look like a man or a man trying to use makeup, her hair dyed a strange color and piercings to make himself look like a woman. describe ms. scharnhorst's appearance in detail


Ms. Scharnhorst is indeed a strange figure, her appearance artfully crafted to defy traditional gender norms. Her hairstyle is an unconventional mix, with the sides shaved close to the scalp and the top left slightly longer, dyed an odd shade of lavender that seems to change hue under different lighting. This peculiar choice makes it difficult to discern whether she's a woman trying to adopt masculine features or a man using unconventional hair color to appear more feminine.

Her facial features are equally ambiguous. Her eyebrows are meticulously shaped, neither too thick nor too thin, and her eyes are a mysterious blend of colors that shift between shades of gray and blue. Her makeup is skillfully applied, with just a hint of eyeliner and mascara to enhance her eyes without revealing too much about her biological sex.

Ms. Scharnhorst's clothing choices only add to the enigma. She favors oversized, gender-neutral garments in muted tones that obscure her figure and leave her true form a mystery. She often wears baggy pants, loose-fitting shirts, and chunky sweaters that could belong to anyone, regardless of their gender.

Her accessories, too, blur the line between masculinity and femininity. She sports several piercings, including a nose ring and multiple earrings that are both subtle and edgy. She also wears a mix of chunky, industrial-style jewelry and more delicate pieces, making it impossible to pinpoint her gender identity based on her adornments alone.

All these carefully chosen elements combine to create an image of Ms. Scharnhorst that is truly enigmatic, leaving onlookers guessing whether she's a woman attempting to look like a man or a man trying to appear more like a woman.


write a 275-word section where ms. scharnhorst accuses bobbylee of being white supremacist because of the confederate flag bumper sticker on his truck. bobbylee rips her apart with chesterton quotes


Ms. Scharnhorst, with her ever-present air of self-righteousness, approached Bobbylee in the school parking lot as he stood by his truck. "Bobbylee Johnson," she began, her voice dripping with disdain, "I couldn't help but notice that offensive Confederate flag bumper sticker on your truck. It's a symbol of white supremacy, and I demand that you remove it immediately."

Bobbylee, unfazed by her accusation, leaned against his truck and drawled, "Well, Ms. Scharnhorst, I reckon you're barkin' up the wrong tree. You've misunderstood the whole point of that there flag. It represents my heritage, not hate. But since you've gone and ruffled my feathers, let me share some wisdom from ol' G.K. Chesterton."

Clearing his throat, he quoted in his thick Southern accent, "'To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.' You might think you've got the right to judge me, but that don't mean you're fit to be the judge."

Ms. Scharnhorst's face turned a shade of red that nearly matched her oddly dyed hair. "You cannot justify your bigotry with some outdated quotes!"

Bobbylee smirked and responded with another Chesterton gem, "'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' You see, ma'am, I ain't fightin' against nobody. I'm just standin' up for my family, my history, and my culture like a stubborn mule."

Ms. Scharnhorst's eyes narrowed as she tried to come up with a retort, but Bobbylee continued, "One more thing, Ms. Scharnhorst. Chesterton also said, 'There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped.' You tryin' to shut down our conversation based on your own assumptions is like tryin' to put lipstick on a pig."

With that, Bobbylee tipped his cap, leaving a speechless Ms. Scharnhorst to stew in her own indignation like a possum in the headlights.


write a 100-word section where bobbylee adds an appropriate quote from robert e lee before he gets in his truck and drives away


Bobbylee paused for a moment before delivering one final quote, this time from General Robert E. Lee himself. "Ms. Scharnhorst, let me leave you with this thought: 'The education of a man is never completed until he dies.' You might wanna consider learnin' a thing or two about not judgin' a book by its cover."

With a knowing smile, Bobbylee climbed into his truck, started the engine, and drove away, leaving a bewildered Ms. Scharnhorst to contemplate the wisdom of the Confederate general's words.


bobbylee adds an anecdote about determination from his great-great-grandfather who fought in the first virginia under stonewall jackson


Bobbylee paused for a moment, then decided to share a personal anecdote to drive his point home. "You know, Ms. Scharnhorst, my great-great-grandpa fought in the First Virginia under Stonewall Jackson during the War of Northern Aggression. He had a sayin' about determination that stuck with our family through the generations."

He looked her straight in the eyes and continued, "He used to say, 'When you're in a tight spot, you can't just sit there like a bump on a log. You've got to dig your heels in and fight with everything you've got, just like we did back in the day.' Now, I ain't sayin' that the war was all sunshine and rainbows, but it's a part of who I am, and it's somethin' I carry with me. I learn from it, but I don't let it define me."

Bobbylee fixed his gaze on Ms. Scharnhorst, his voice steady and determined. "So, ma'am, before you go throwin' stones in glass houses, remember that we all have our histories and our stories to tell. And like my great-great-grandpa used to say, it's our determination that makes us who we are, not the labels other folks try to slap on us."

Ms. Scharnhorst stared at Bobbylee, her mouth slightly agape. She couldn't comprehend the points he was making, as her mind was so entrenched in her Marxist, racial-justice framework that his words simply didn't fit her worldview. She was unaccustomed to dealing with such nuanced perspectives that went beyond the black-and-white labels she was used to applying to people and situations.

Unable to muster a response or counter-argument, she stood there speechless, her face a mix of confusion and frustration. Bobbylee's words had exposed the limitations of her rigid beliefs, leaving her at a loss for how to proceed.

With that, Bobbylee tipped his cap, leaving a bewildered Ms. Scharnhorst standing in the parking lot, forced to confront the possibility that her understanding of the world might be more limited than she had ever imagined.


tim eisele said...

The more I see of ChatGPT, the more I think it is basically just a very advanced version of "Mad Libs" (and the various AI art programs are high-tech paper dress-up dolls). Which can of course be a useful tool, but doesn't make any sort of decent final product without a lot of human editing.

Also, I'd just like to note that when you edit these, I find characters who "smirk" or "snicker" or "smile knowingly" to be incredibly annoying. Rather than sympathizing with what they are saying, I just want to either punch them in their smarmy faces or throttle them until their beady little eyes pop out. This is probably because the guys in high school who acted like that were also the ones who traveled around in little gangs and tormented other people by harassing them, pushing them around, knocking things out of their hands, and stealing their stuff. And then acted all innocent when anyone fought back - "But we were just kidding around and all of a sudden he attacked us!"

K T Cat said...

The prose is indeed repetitive and so you need to take the raw material and edit it for style. I wanted to share the raw outputs because they amaze me. The amount of content you can create in such a short period of time is incredible.

Question: What happens to the information ecology when oceans of content can be produced with a few prompts? It's the industrial revolution for fiction, as far as I can tell.

As for your reactions to the characters, roger that. I appreciate that feedback. The boys aren't there to be annoying. I'll shape their character definitions so they don't smirk any more. I've seen that in other fiction I've tried where characters sneer. I don't even want my villains sneering.

By the way, I've also used ChatGPT to write some nodejs code. It works perfectly. I'm sure glad I'm retirement age.

K T Cat said...

Also, I wouldn't underestimate it's creative powers. In an earlier passage, not quoted here, Jimmy suggests the boys start a pool, betting on which woke topic Ms. Scharnhorst will rant on next and then gives a perfectly reasonable set of candidates. It's the sort of thing I would have written, but I didn't think of it. It had nothing to do with my prompt, but was a creative extension of my idea.

tim eisele said...

I agree that it is pretty powerful, and in good hands it is probably a pretty profound creative aid. I just suspect that a majority of people are going to use it lazily, and produce a lot of the kind of unedited repetitive dreck that high-school kids are notorious for.

I have already seen SF and Fantasy magazine editors saying that have pretty much stopped accepting unsolicited submissions because they are getting buried in massive piles of insipid and unoriginal ChatGPT output. It isn't necessarily objectively worse than what they were already getting, but there is just so much of it that their slush piles have gone from "maybe we can get through it in a year" to "we are about to be crushed by the massive stacks of unread manuscripts".

Basically, if we have robotic authors but only human editors, the editors are never going to be able to keep up.

Ilíon said...

==Bobbylee leaned against his old pickup truck, adjusting his Confederate forage cap as he chewed on a piece of straw.==

What if the "narrator" *also* spoke in the "voices" of the particular characters then under discussion, such as --

"Bobbylee leant against his old pickup truck, adjusting his Confederate forage cap as he chawed on a piece of straw."

Oh! Another "Southern hickism" is "hisn" for "his" (*) and "hern" for "hers".

(*) Not the "his" of "That is his apple tree" but of "That apple tree over yonder is hisn".

Ilíon said...

=="That ol' professor might be fixin' to bring down the water tower, floodin' part of our town."==


"That ol' professor might be [a-]fixin' to bring down the water [tar], floodin' part of our town."

Also, 'fire' is "far" and "on fire" is "a-far"