Generating a poem "by" Richard Brautigan

I had Davinci generate a poem in the style of Richard Brautigan. There’s a saying in creative writing circles that writing fiction is like being a magician who is fooled by their own tricks. In this case, as I analyzed this poem, I had a moment where I actually forgot that Brautigan hadn’t written it, even though I’d supplied the prompt.

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Good questions. I’ve been thinking about the issues around authorship, too. I think the ethical line for me involves owning up to the fact that the text is generated by AI. If I were to use GPT-3 to generate a poem in the style of Richard Brautigan, then try to pass that off as a newly discovered original work, then I’m essentially engaging in art forgery. But if I announce right away that this work is generated by AI, I should be in the clear.

I think works that are generated in the voice or style of other artists fall under the rubric of satire, parody, or homage. The literary journal McSweeney’s has long maintained a website which includes a lot of humorous pieces written by writers using the voice or style of other writers.

There’s a popular saying among creative writers: good writers borrow, great writers steal. The broad social contract among creative writers is an understanding that being open to influence is necesssary. Plagiarism–stealing someone else’s work verbatim and passing it off as your own–is clearly verboten. The line is much more well defined when it comes to nonfiction. But with creative work, the understanding is that mimicking other writers’ voices or lifting their themes is fair game.


If you consider this AI is just rearranging a huge chunk of human emotion that’s available on the internet and presenting it in a new form, then maybe that perspective could allow you to be emotionally moved by an AI-generated piece. Human ingenuity created GTP-3, and human blood, sweat, and tears provided its training material. The human soul is in there, thrown into a blender, and reflected back to us in a mirror-like apparatus. Also, it seems @boudinot has a reverence for this poet, and that itself is an emotion that caused him to pick up this tool and create.


Excellent points. You’re right that I’m predisposed to love this poet, so yeah, what an amazing new frontier this is.

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It sounds like you two are disagreeing but I think you may be saying the same thing in a different way. I’ve long thought that technology is natural. It’s the product of human minds who are bound by and a product of nature. I think that’s sort of what you both might be getting at.

Fear of AI, or a belief that it has an agenda, reminds me of how certain animals react when they see their reflection in a mirror. They recoil or lash out in the mistaken impression that they’re seeing another animal. AI is like the ultimate mirror being held up to humanity. Some of us mistake this reflection of our intelligence as an independent intelligence.

That said, powerful, nascent technologies have been known to explode and accidentally kill people. Not to mention kill people by design. It happens. But humans possess the wherewithal to make technologies safer over time and make moral judgements about them, which it appears is entirely outside the purview of GPT-3.

Lastly, I’ve come up with a rejoinder to the AI-phobic, like one of my favorite yoga instructors. When she expressed fear that “Ai is going to take over everything,” I responded that I’m way more worried about natural stupidity, which seems to be on a tear these days.



I am learning
What exact prompts did u use
How did you feed the works of Richard Brautigan?