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How to write an AI

Or how to fail a test to succeed

Lately I have been struggling with writing an AI. And by that I don't mean developing an AI, but rather trying to write a dialogue between a teenager and an AI, who they deem to be God-like. The premise of the short story is quite simple really:

The Plot

In a society of humans who worship an AI, a teenager has, as part of their coming-of-age ritual, the honor of speaking to their god. This god is but an advanced AI, who has existed for generations and keeps a record of population. As customary, the teenager protagonist asks the AI to read out the protagonist's record. This, however results in a problem, as the name of the protagonist overlaps with the name of a different person. So instead of reading a short and barely interesting story, the AI read a register of a person who lived long before and is already dead. The protagonist listens carefully to the story and, at first, understands the conversation as a prophecy of sorts, until, in the end, they realize the AI tells them they are already dead. Unable to understand the underlying reason for this error, the protagonist argues with the AI and finally gives in to despair and decides to accept what they deem to be the God's will and commits suicide.

As I said, quite a simple story. One place, 2 characters and only dialogue and stream of consciousness narrated by the protagonist. As such, an easy endeavour. At least regarding the teenager. I was myself a teenager. I knew and know some teenagers. There is something relatable to them. There is an teenager archetype. I could either go out and talk to them and start writing, I could ask them to say stuff and write it down or I could consume media and build on the millions of existing teenage characters. Even though the short story I'm writing takes place in the future and teenagers won't talk like the one I know or the one I was (looking at you Avatar the Way of the Water,bruh), but I can wrap my head around them and get creative with the rest. The AI, on the other hand, is a bit more tricky, especially because, the AI is a god, at least the protagonist's God. So in a way, the AI's language needs to be different from the protagonist's. The question is how different? And how do I make a machine sound like a machine and not like a person? In other words: How can I fail the Turing test graciously so that my character sounds like both a sentient god and a machine?

Making a God in their image

Since the story takes place is a (distant) future, my first idea was to make the AI sound archaic. In a way, isn't that what we all expect of God? Maybe that's just me, but I have always imagined him to speak as in King James Version of the Bible:

And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord:

And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.

and I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.

And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.

Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:

And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.

Exodus 6:2 - 6:8, King James Version

And I kind of like that. That archaic, dusty, snob better-than-thou language. A language I'd like to use for my AI-God. Only this AI is supposed to be an AI that was not intended to be God, is is mistaken for it by the future humans. This in time, would mean that, as ChatGPT, for example, the AI of the story would have been trained on every-day texts and would thus probably not speak as God in King James' Bible. But, what if it then spake, I mean, spoke like in a more modern Bible,say the Modern English Version:

Then God spoke to Moses, and said to him, “I am the Lord, and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name, The Lord, I was not known to them. I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they sojourned. I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.

“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched-out arm and with great judgments. And I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land, which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you for a heritage. I am the Lord.’ ”

Exodus 6:2 - 6:8, Modern English Version

Is it more legible? I guess. More realistic? Probably so. I mean, as an atheist, it is somewhat difficult for me to take the subject from a perspective other than the aesthetic one. So, no. I prefer my God to be archaic like the God of Abraham. But, as the newer versions of the Bible show, God can also be more easy-going and casual, if it needs be. So I guess this would be an option. Especially when thinking about the fact that the God of Abraham didn't speak to Abraham in English, I guess it would be o.k. to translate their God News to modern English, which in time, would be already archaic English by the time of the story, right? Let's ask ChatGPT

Making a God in our image

They say fiction is often surpassed by reality. So I just went ahead and decided to experiment with ChatGPT (3.5, not 4. Because 3.5 is free. Like in free beer). We had a great time:

me: User Imagine you are the God of Abraham greeting me by my name and making me feel special

ChatGPT: Certainly! Please note that this is a creative and imaginative response and not a reflection of any particular religious beliefs:

"Good morning, [Your Name]. As the Creator of the universe and the source of all life, I want you to know that you are uniquely special. Your journey on this Earth is significant, and I am with you every step of the way. May your day be filled with the awareness of my love and guidance. Remember that you are a cherished part of my divine plan, and your existence brings me joy. Walk in the light of your purpose, and may your heart be comforted by the knowledge that you are deeply loved and cherished."

Me: Now tell me the story of my life

ChatGPT: I don't have specific information about your personal life unless you share it with me. I am designed to respect user privacy and confidentiality. If you have a specific question or topic you'd like information about, or if you have a hypothetical scenario in mind, feel free to let me know, and I'll do my best to provide relevant and helpful information!

Me: Any story would be good. An easy life, full of accomplishments. I like to die of old age

ChatGPT: Once upon a time, in a picturesque town nestled between rolling hills and tranquil lakes, there lived a person named Alex. From a young age, Alex displayed a remarkable curiosity and passion for learning. Growing up in a supportive community, Alex had access to excellent educational opportunities.
In their youth, Alex discovered a love for science and technology. With dedication and hard work, Alex excelled academically and pursued a career in cutting-edge research. Throughout the years, Alex made groundbreaking contributions to various fields, leaving a lasting impact on the world. The sense of fulfillment derived from making meaningful contributions to society was a constant source of joy for Alex.

Outside of work, Alex formed deep connections with friends and family. The small town provided a close-knit community, and together they celebrated milestones, shared laughter, and supported one another through challenges. Alex's life was enriched by the warmth of these relationships.
As the years passed, Alex's contributions to science continued to flourish, and a sense of contentment grew. With a heart full of gratitude, Alex dedicated time to mentor the next generation of scientists, fostering a legacy that extended beyond personal achievements.
In the twilight of life, surrounded by loved ones and with a mind still sharp, Alex reflected on the journey. The accomplishments, the shared moments, and the positive impact on the world brought a profound sense of fulfillment. As the sun set on a life well-lived, Alex peacefully passed away, leaving behind a legacy of inspiration, knowledge, and the enduring power of a life dedicated to learning and love.
And so, in the realm of this hypothetical scenario, Alex's story became a testament to the beauty of a life filled with accomplishments, meaningful connections, and the wisdom that comes with a journey lived to its fullest.

ChatGPT is fun. Great pal. Great story. Not quite mine, but whatever, I almost feel good for Alex but bad for ChatGPT for having to tell this story. So bland for being the god I want to have in my story. In case, it seems, in the end, the AI-God in my story will just speak like a regular person in 2023. How poetic: 21st century, the age when humans spoke like God.

So, which one will be?

I'm still not quite sure how to feel about this AI-God's language. In way it seem the easiest to just go along with the newer Bibles and with ChatGPT and just speak with the voice of the internet, no particular personality or sentiment, but also not particularly lacking of any. Not a all-knowing entity, nor pretending to be one. Basically, from my perspective as a human fortunate enough to be alive in these times, an average person. This will be fun.

I hope to finish writing this short story soon. Once I do, you can expect to find it here. Don't forget to follow me on insta to be notified!

I plan to be experimenting a bit with this on my poetry channel on youtube. Go take a look if you haven't. I hope to be able to get it done by the end of the year.

And one last thing: A name to answer to

Since I already used ChatGPT for testing, I figured it would be nice to get them to give a name to my protagonist: Me: Imagine we are in the year 3000 in a post apocalyptic world. What would my name be?

ChatGPT: In the year 3000, in a post-apocalyptic world, names might take on a different flavor, reflecting the changed landscape and perhaps drawing inspiration from elements of survival, resilience, or the remnants of the past. Let's imagine your name to be "Riven," a name inspired by the fragmented and fractured nature of the world you navigate. Riven signifies strength and adaptability, qualities crucial for survival in this challenging environment.

So, I guess we can try that. Riven. I like them.

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