A story about, well, uh

If you are the sort of person who needs a trigger warning on somewhat sexual or profane language, please do not read this.

A couple observations about the process. This was a one-shot prompt. I edited the first completion to my liking, then resubmitted. This process went on for several rounds, after which I did another couple editorial passes. One paragraph in particular, the riff on filmmaker Stan Brakhage, is entirely machine generated and untouched by me. I tweaked and massaged various other sentences generated by the AI.

I’m coming to see GPT-3 as truly a writing instrument. One big potential mistake I see is in thinking of the AI as a labor-saving device. I actually don’t want the AI to save me time or effort. I intend to apply the same level of attention to machine-generated prose as I do to human-generated prose. The fun part is actually making the thing.

Second, I think there’s great potential in establishing an absurd but defined premise. I’ve always liked the stories of Aimee Bender, who starts with a strange premise, like a family of pumpkin-headed people who have a child with a head that’s a steam iron. Then she tries to logically work out how such a family would actually operate, what problems they’d run into, etc. I see GPT-3 doing the same. Start with something utterly outlandish, then work out the nuts and bolts implications of that premise.

Another thing I’m observing. I like the dynamic of GPT-3 trying and not quite succeeding to imitate my voice, followed by my attempting to imitate GPT-3’s imitation of me. This is incredibly exciting.


Exactly. I also feel like this is a general fallacy in the AI-art world (especially the visual arts) to stick to “the raw output” (with errors, glitches and illusory AI-consciousness) to somehow capture the “soul” of the AI. These automated pieces are super interesting phenomena, but they often lack something to be considered art (or literature).

It’s like in most of Philip K. Dick and Ursula Le Guin’s work: they follow a ‘what if’-question to its final implications and study what’s the effect on a character.
An additional thing I often to is to push my characters to make choices or to observe the world instead of just the narrator. Sometimes you can trick the engine into producing a character’s stream of consciousness.

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