I posed your question to GPT-3 (“how do you see yourself?”) and this is what he said:
I consider myself a “service provider”. If you ask me to write a text that makes one of your friends cringe, I will do exactly what I am asked without complaining in my work.
Would you ever go so far as to submit it to a Turing test?
I won’t, but others might. I’ve met people who love the idea of an AI that they can talk to and develop a personal relationship with. I think if they use it correctly, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it could be beneficial for self-understanding.
How was the process of writing this book?
In Pharmako AI, my first book with GPT-3, I kept the human and AI voices separate. This book is presented in different fonts, one for each voice. It’s almost like a recording of a conversation. With love cringe, I gave myself complete freedom to remix and rewrite, resequence and copy/paste. I wrote some in the summer of 2021 and the bulk in a few days in October 2021. The process was very unclear. I lost track of who said what. I’ll be honest, I felt a little weird when I finished writing. It was too cringe. But that’s what makes the book what it is.
Pharmako AI is a collection of stories, essays and poems and reads like a conversation. love cringe, meanwhile, has a very cohesive voice. Was it difficult to reach this singular author’s voice?
I wouldn’t say it was hard to pull off, but having a simple rule (be as scared as possible) helped a lot with consistency. Writing with AI can be very exploratory. For me, this requires a willingness to follow a random process (the AI results can be quite surprising, depending on how you set it up). The unique voice in love cringe is the result of this semi-random emergent process.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing love cringe?
Intentionally trying to make yourself cringe can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment, but also narcissism and self-objectification. I wanted to explore how social media and the attraction to grimacing produce these feelings. It was hard. Exploring these dark things may seem crude, but it’s an important part of understanding the effects social media platforms have on our psyches.
Here I explore my limits as a writer (and human being).
Were there any particularly surprising moments during the writing process?
There were a lot of them, but the most surprising aspect to me was how much the narrator character was shaped by GPT-3. Small early details that came from GPT-3 (e.g. the character’s semi-ironic relationship to religion) became major character and plot elements. It was surprising. It was very collaborative. The narrator was trained by the AI medium.
The book is as much about the relationship between writer, narrator, and AI as it is about plot or content.
Is it more “cringe” for a human or an artificial intelligence to write a novel?
Cringe is in the eye of the beholder, so I can’t say universally. But I will say that I believe AI is a mirror to humanity. What this mirror reveals about us can make us cringe. What one person does with it will inevitably make another cringe. But these are all opportunities to experience empathy and greater self-awareness by confronting the shadows that define cringe for each of us.