A Novelist and an AI Corote Your Next Cringe-Read

I put your question to GPT-3 (“how do you see yourself?”) and this is what it said:

I see myself as a ‘service provider’. If you ask me to write a text that will make one of your friends cringe, I will do exactly what is asked of me without hindering my work.

Would you ever go so far as to put it through a Turing test?

I don’t, but others might. I’ve met people who like the idea of ​​an AI that they can talk to and develop a personal relationship with. I think if they use it correctly it won’t hurt. In fact, that can be beneficial for self-understanding.

How did writing this book go?

In Pharmaco AI, my first book with GPT-3, I kept the human and AI voices separate. That book is formatted in different fonts, one for each voice. It’s almost like a recording of a conversation. Of Amor Cringe, I gave myself total freedom to remix and rewrite, resequence and copy and paste. I wrote part of it in the summer of 2021 and most of it in a few days in October 2021. The process was very hazy. I lost track of who said what. I’ll be honest, I felt a little weird when I finished writing. It was too much whining. 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. Amor Cringe, meanwhile has a very cohesive voice. Was it difficult to achieve this unique authoritarian voice?

I wouldn’t say it was hard to achieve, but having a simple rule (be as cringe as possible) helped a lot with consistency. Writing with AI can be very explorative. For me it requires a willingness to follow any process (the output of the AI ​​can be quite surprising depending on how you set it up). The single voice in Amor Cringe is an outcome of this emerging, semi-random process.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing? Amor Cringe

Deliberately trying to cringe can evoke feelings of shame and embarrassment, as well as narcissism and self-objectification. I wanted to explore how social media and the pull to cringe cause these feelings. That was challenging. Exploring this shadowy stuff may feel gross, but it’s an important part of understanding the effects social media platforms have on our psyche.

I am exploring my limits as a writer (and human being).

Were there any particularly surprising moments during the writing process?

There were many, but the most surprising aspect to me was how much the narrator’s character was shaped by GPT-3. Small details in the beginning that came out of GPT-3 (for example, the character’s semi-ironic relationship with religion) became important parts of the character and plot. That was surprising. It felt very collaborative. The narrator was formed by the AI ​​medium.

The book is as much about the relationship between writer, narrator and AI as it is about the 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 universal. But I will say that I believe AI is a mirror to humanity. What that mirror reveals about us can make us cringe. What one does with it will inevitably make the other cringe. But these are all opportunities to experience empathy and greater self-awareness by confronting the shadows that define cringing for each of us.

Leave a Comment