Nick Cave, legendary musician and writer, is decidedly not a fan of ChatGPT, the AI tool that went viral for doing a remarkable job of passably completing nearly any writing prompt.
Cave has a famously close relationship with his fans, one of whom sent a song “written” by ChatGPT “in the style of Nick Cave.” The whole blog from Cave is worth reading, but among some wonderful and wise observations, Cave simply notes, “this song sucks.”
Writes Cave, in part:
“I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI – that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster. It can never be rolled back, or slowed down, as it moves us toward a utopian future, maybe, or our total destruction. Who can possibly say which? Judging by this song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ though, it doesn’t look good.”
Cave notes that, through the process of cold replication, AI is capable only of creating empty art. It’s stripped of meaning and suffering. Cave writes: “It will always be a replication, a kind of burlesque.”
OK now get ready for a bummer but profound paragraph from Cave. I’d try to paraphrase but he, obviously, puts it better than I could.
Songs arise out of suffering, by which I mean they are predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation and, well, as far as I know, algorithms don’t feel. Data doesn’t suffer. ChatGPT has no inner being, it has been nowhere, it has endured nothing, it has not had the audacity to reach beyond its limitations, and hence it doesn’t have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations from which to transcend. ChatGPT’s melancholy role is that it is destined to imitate and can never have an authentic human experience, no matter how devalued and inconsequential the human experience may in time become.
That is the troubling thing about ChatGPT. You can see its business applications. You can see it replacing or buttressing human workers. But it’s inability to make anything truly artful hints at the limitations that lie in using ChatGPT. It has no true perspective, no experience, no pain, no humanity. It’s a wonderful bit of artificiality. But it’s still artificial.
Writes Cave, getting straight to the point: “With all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human, and, well, I don’t much like it.”
Granted I am not a celebrated musician, but I agree.