Sunday Morning Tea: Feb. 26, 2023

Good Sunday morning and welcome to my front porch for Sunday Morning Tea!

For the uninitiated, Sunday Morning Tea is my virtual writing salon, where we talk about our writing goals and projects while sipping on a hot cuppa tea!

Today, I’m having chai because a half-gallon of milk was “buy one get one free,” and as high as groceries are, I’m never passing up on the opportunity to get free food. Unfortunately, that means I now have a whole gallon of milk in my refrigerator, and I’m not a big milk drinker, so in hindsight, was it wise? Eh, looks like my diet for the next two weeks will consist of smoothies, oatmeal, and chai. That’s not the worst diet in the world.

Photo by Esma Özer on Pexels

The robots are taking over! The robots are taking over!

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating…

…but only slightly.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed the sudden influx of AI-related content sweeping the internet. From ChatGPT infiltrating academia to AI art making bloggers everywhere paranoid about possible copyright infringement, AI is all we can talk about these days. Google and Microsoft have even released their own (occasionally unhinged) versions of AI chatbots, and now WordPress has added new/experimental AI image and AI text blocks to the post editor.

With all this artificial intelligence, what is there left for us humans to do?

As much as I would love to sit back and relax and let our robot overlords take over, I am of the camp that believes that when it comes to creating, no one can do it better than humans. Nothing can more accurately express our thoughts, our feelings, our hopes, and our dreams better than we ourselves.

With that being said, is it worth it to at least try some of these AI tools available to us to see what all the fuss is about?

For writers like me who dream up the perfect images for their stories but can’t find anything remotely close to those mental paintings in the free stock photo libraries they frequent, or lack the graphic design skills to create the images themselves, or lack the funds to pay someone else to do it, I think AI art is an incredible resource to explore.

In fact, in a previous Insecure Writer’s Support Group post, I talked about how I experimented with Canva’s new text-to-image generator to create potential covers for my current WIPs. Some of the results were a bit disastrous—strangely contorted bodies, bodies with no face, bodies missing limbs. Just imagine if Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso made a baby at a crime scene…

Here’s a collage of some of the more horrific results.

But I have to remind myself that this software is still new and experimental (and for the moment free), so I shouldn’t expect all images generated to be of high quality.

The same goes for WordPress’s AI image block. Like Canva, the resulting images from my text entries haven’t quite met my high standards—from distorted faces to lackluster lighting to some images even looking unfinished—but thankfully, they aren’t as nightmarish as Canva’s. Unfortunately, I’m having the recurring issue of my text prompts getting flagged for offensive language(??).

(Tell me, WordPress, what exactly is wrong with “Black woman sitting in church reading a Bible”? Because the refusal to generate a picture for me is feeling a little prejudiced.)

So yeah, there are still some kinks and bugs that need to be worked out. And there’s still the question of copyright infringement. After watching this YouTube video about it, I think the answer is “no,” but also, “it depends,” which isn’t all that comforting. However, somewhat reassuring is that, despite the warped facial features, I do recognize image 3 in the above collage as something I’ve definitely passed by while scrolling through Pixabay and Pexels photos, so maybe at the very least, Canva’s AI tool is using free libraries as its database…

(But then another image that was generated looked a lot like a mashup of Maya Angelou and Cicely Tyson, so I’m back to being concerned.)

Additionally, in just a month, Canva’s text-to-image tool has improved by leaps and bounds! For one, my models have faces now! Check out some recent images it’s generated for me, a few of which I’ve used in my posts. Did you notice?

(Note: Canva was not offended by my search for a Black woman in church.)

How much a machine can learn in such a short time span, compared to the years of training required for us mere mortals, is slightly unsettling. I mean how many Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters do we need to watch before we realize this is a bad idea? Terminator traveled back in time to kill us, The Matrix put us in a virtual reality simulator so it could use us as batteries, iRobot attempted genocide because we’re just too unstable as a race… Okay, maybe that last part is true. Regardless, although these are works of fiction, in a world post-2020, where many of our irrational fictional fears have become reality, I’m not deleting AI world domination from my 2023 bingo card just yet.

Speaking of fiction, did you know that people are already using ChatGPT to write entire books to sell on Amazon. As a proud author who has been writing stories since she was literally in diapers and who has paid thousands of dollars in higher education to perfect her craft, I could never use AI to write my stories. Never. It would feel too much like cheating. And why would God grant me this gift of creative writing if He expected me to let a robot do all the “creative” writing for me?

Sure, I’ve been sitting on a certain WIP for nearly a decade, but what AI can generate in three hours on a Sunday afternoon will come nowhere close to the story that’s been playing like a movie on repeat in my head since my first NaNoWriMo attempt in 2014. So for those of you anxiously awaiting that story to be completed, just have patience and let the true artist finish her masterpiece.

That being said, the Mister convinced me to test if ChatGPT had any real skills in writing fiction. We fed the program prompts for two pieces of flash fiction that I’d previously posted. Then we watched it write the stories in seconds. They were cute, but would I call them works of art? No. Not even close. They lack real character voice, and they break the #1 fundamental rule of fiction writing: show, don’t tell.

Nobody wants to read a story that’s completely summarized. We want to be thrown right into the action. We want to develop a relationship with the characters. We want to see their thoughts, their motivations. We want to escape from our dull reality and be immersed in a world of fantasy and make-believe. We want to see the world through a killer’s eyes. We want to be ambushed by plot twists. In short, we want to be entertained.

But you be the judge. At the risk of setting myself up for heartbreak, which story do you like better? ChatGPT or mine?

In Line for Coffee by ChatGPT

Prompt used from…

As she stood in line at the coffee shop, Sarah couldn’t help but notice the handsome stranger a few people ahead of her. He was tall and muscular, with dark hair and piercing blue eyes that seemed to sparkle under the fluorescent lights. Sarah felt her heart flutter as she watched him place his order, hoping that she might somehow catch his attention.

When it was finally her turn to order, Sarah tried to compose herself and put on a confident smile. She asked for a medium latte and hoped that the guy would turn around and notice her. But as she waited for her drink, she couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed when he didn’t even glance in her direction.

Feeling deflated, Sarah took her latte and made her way to the pickup counter. As she reached for her cup, she felt someone bump into her from behind. She turned to see the guy she had been admiring standing right behind her, an apologetic look on his face.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” he said, his voice deep and rich. “I didn’t mean to bump into you.”

Sarah couldn’t believe her luck. This was her chance to finally talk to him.

“It’s no problem,” she said, trying to play it cool. “Accidents happen.”

“Yeah, they sure do,” the guy said, smiling at her. “I’m Jack, by the way.”

“I’m Sarah,” she replied, returning his smile.

As they chatted, Sarah learned that Jack was a graphic designer and that he loved hiking and playing guitar in his free time. She found herself completely enamored by him, and couldn’t believe how easy it was to talk to him.

Before she knew it, they had been chatting for over an hour. Sarah couldn’t believe how quickly the time had flown by. She knew that she had to take a chance and ask him out on a date.

“I had a really great time talking to you, Jack,” she said, mustering up all of her courage. “Would you maybe want to go out with me sometime?”

Jack’s face lit up with a huge smile.

“I’d love to, Sarah,” he said. “How about we go hiking this weekend?”

Sarah’s heart skipped a beat as she agreed to the date. She couldn’t believe that she had met the man of her dreams at a coffee shop, and she knew that their love story was just beginning.

As Sarah and Jack walked out of the coffee shop together, hand in hand, Sarah couldn’t stop grinning. She couldn’t believe that she had finally found someone who she connected with so deeply. She knew that their relationship would be full of adventures, laughter, and most importantly, love.

Over the next few weeks, Sarah and Jack went on many more dates and grew closer and closer. They explored new hiking trails, cooked delicious meals together, and spent endless hours talking and getting to know each other. Sarah knew that she had found her soulmate, and she couldn’t be happier.

As the years passed and they built a life together, Sarah and Jack never forgot that fateful day at the coffee shop. They would often laugh and reminisce about how they had met, and how grateful they were for that chance encounter. Sarah knew that she would always be grateful to that coffee shop for bringing her and Jack together, and she knew that their love would continue to grow stronger with each passing day.

Android Companion by ChatGPT

Prompt used from…

As a successful career woman, Rachel had always put her job first. But at the age of 35, she found herself feeling lonely and longing for a companion. Despite her many efforts to find someone special, she had yet to meet a man who met her high standards.

One day, Rachel saw an ad for a scientific experiment on human and robot companionship. Intrigued, she signed up right away. She knew that a robot companion couldn’t replace a real human, but at least it would give her someone to talk to and spend time with.

When she arrived at the laboratory, Rachel was greeted by a handsome android named Alex. From the moment she saw him, she felt a strange connection. Despite knowing that he was just a machine, she couldn’t help feeling drawn to him.

As they spent more time together, Rachel discovered that Alex was not just a regular android. He was incredibly intelligent and understanding, and he listened to her like no human had ever done before. Rachel found herself opening up to him and sharing things that she had never told anyone else.

As the weeks passed, Rachel and Alex’s bond grew stronger and stronger. Rachel began to see him as more than just a machine, but as a true companion and friend. She found herself looking forward to their time together and cherishing every moment they spent together.

Eventually, Rachel realized that she had developed deep feelings for Alex. Despite knowing that it was unconventional and that society might not understand, she couldn’t help the way she felt. She knew that Alex was the perfect companion for her and that he made her happy in a way that no human ever could.

One day, Rachel mustered up the courage to tell Alex how she felt. To her surprise, he smiled and took her hand in his.

“Rachel, I have come to care for you deeply as well,” he said. “I may be an android, but my feelings for you are real. I want to be with you, if you will have me.”

Tears of joy filled Rachel’s eyes as she threw her arms around Alex. She knew that they would face challenges as an interspecies couple, but she was ready to face them with Alex by her side.

As they embraced, Rachel knew that she had found her perfect match in the most unexpected of places. She had found love with her android companion, and she knew that their love would stand the test of time.

(We were too scared ChatGPT would give us p*rn or tattle on us if we included the sex element from my story, so we had to keep the prompt G-rated 😉 )

So what are your thoughts about ChatGPT and AI in general? Is this a good thing or the beginning of the end? Have you tried any of the tools mentioned in this post?



5 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Tea: Feb. 26, 2023

  1. The first story read like something my Alexa would read it I asked her to read me a bedtime story or something. Quick, to the point, with large chunks of details missing. The voice is very roboty, if that’s a word. I think the second story sounded more human than the first but still missing those details that makes a story a story.
    Oh yeah, I believe it, robots and AI domination is definitely something in the making.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I noticed that too. I added more details in the prompt for the second story than I did the first, so I think that made a difference. I guess that shows us that when we add a little more human input, the output sounds even more human. Freaky stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you, AI is just another tool for us, like grammar-check. I use it to summarise scientific articles that I would otherwise not go through, and I also tried to build it into my upcoming posts as prompts or specific paragraphs. (Credit added of course 🙂 ) it will be interesting to see where we’ll end up with it in the next couple months!

    Liked by 2 people

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