When I heard that artificial intelligence could write creative essays, my first thought was, “Great, it can write my column for me.”
According to IBM, artificial intelligence, or artificial intelligence, “leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making abilities of the human mind.” A great deal. It’s only a matter of time before Arnold Schwarzenegger-like cyborgs are created. They will destroy us completely or, depending on how it goes, entertain us with light comedy.
Meanwhile, the website OpenAI.com has a chat program for human members. Scientifically, I gave it a test drive recently – if I had anything to do with it.
To choose a random topic, I asked OpenAI to write a humorous story about a retired newspaperman in his 70s who walks a lot and writes a column every two weeks.
“Of course!” said the pleasant artificial thingamabob.
So here it is in short:
(I emphasize that this is a real AI text, as the facts that sometimes serve in this column are slightly adapted as humor. My comments are in parentheses.)
Retired newspaperman Dan Mackey always liked a little wanderlust, and he was always up for a good adventure. So when his neighbor Harold suggested a hiking trip through the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont, Dan was all in.
(Over 5 miles? I should have thought of that.)
A few years younger than Dan, Harold has always been into fitness and is determined to show Dan that age is just a number. Dan, on the other hand, was happy to leave the house and see new sights.
(I don’t know Harold. Is he stalking me?)
Armed with a map and a sense of excitement, two friends set off on an early autumn morning. They started in Hanover, exploring the charming downtown area and checking out local shops and restaurants.
(Nothing about jaywalking college students?)
As they walked, Dan couldn’t help but marvel at the many interesting sights and people he encountered along the way. There were farmers selling fresh produce at roadside stands, children playing in the park, and even a group of monks at the farm.
(You’re almost Marco Polo 2.0, aren’t you?)
Dan and Harold had a great time on their trip, despite many challenges along the way, including getting lost a few times and struggling to find a decent cup of coffee. When they finally return home, tired but happy, Dan knows he has a great story to share in his next column.
Maybe not very well, and not very funny. I haven’t been threatened yet.
It’s the season of joy, and since it’s not all about me technically, I asked OpenAI to write a Christmas story for the Upper Valley. The resulting tale is so simple and sweet that it reads like it was written on a candy cane.
It was a cold, snowy December night in the Upper Valley, and Santa Claus was preparing for his long journey around the world to deliver presents to all the good boys and girls.
As he prepared the sleigh and reindeer, Santa couldn’t help but think of all the great memories he had of traveling the Upper Valley over the years. Friendly people, beautiful countryside and cozy little towns put a smile on his face.
Finally, it’s time for Santa Claus to go on his journey. He got into his sleigh, said goodbye to Mrs. Claus and the elves, and took off into the starry night sky.
As he flies from town to town, Santa stops to visit with children and deliver gifts. He visited Hanover, Lebanon, and White River Junction, spreading cheer and joy wherever he went.
(And hopefully the elves from the Norwich list will hear about it in other cities as well.)
Finally, after a long and busy night, Santa returned to the North Pole, tired but happy. He knew he had made many children very happy, and that was the best feeling in the world.
Well, I didn’t get OpenAI to write my column, but I came pretty close. We’ll see if it gets me through and gets billed in the mail.
Anyway, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to the rest of our readers. Merry Christmas if you celebrate it with fun, reverence, or both.
Another column was inserted; now it’s time for the long winter hibernation.
Dan McKee lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at [email protected]