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Musician Nick Cave has eviscerated a song that ChatGPT wrote in the style of Nick Cave, calling the effort “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human” and “replication as travesty.”

The song was sent to him by a fan in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Cave didn’t attempt to bottle up his emotions for his response.

Cave, not by Cave

In his newsletter, The Red Hand Files, Cave gave his unfavorable reaction to ChatGPT’s efforts which he bluntly described as “bullshit.”

Had the song been objectively better in Cave’s eyes, his reaction would likely have been no more sympathetic. As Cave describes it the horror of artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLM) lies not only in its current limitations and lack of quality but in the prospect of its continual progression and improvement.

“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,” said Cave.

Even with the forever improvement of machine intelligence Cave sees no merit in the process of mutation and replication.

“What makes a great song great is not its close resemblance to a recognizable work,” said Cave. “Writing a good song is not mimicry, or replication, or pastiche, it is the opposite. It is an act of self-murder that destroys all one has strived to produce in the past.”

Cave then offered his thoughts on whether steadily improving chatbots and AI will lead to an idealized utopian future, or a dystopian disaster. 

According to the singer and songwriter, “The apocalypse is well on its way. This song sucks.”

ChatGPT’s (not actually) Nick Cave song

The song written by ChatGPT in the style of Cave is full of biblical allusions and labored oxymorons. Saints, sinners, devils, and angels all feature in the formerly nameless piece.

To make its future identification easier MetaNews asked ChatGPT what the name of the song should be. ChatGPT offered a numbered of options including “Siren’s Lament,” “The Line Between,” and “The Devil’s Game.”

Verse 1:

In the depths of the night, I hear a call

A voice that echoes, through the hall

It’s a siren’s song, that pulls me in

Takes me to a place, where I can’t begin

Chorus:

I am the sinner, I am the saint

I am the darkness, I am the light

I am the hunter, I am the prey

I am the devil, I am the savior

Verse 2:

I walk the streets, with my head held high

I’ve got my demons, but I’ll make them fly

I’ll dance with the devil, and I’ll play his game

I’ll be the one, to call his name

Chorus:

I am the sinner, I am the saint

I am the darkness, I am the light

I am the hunter, I am the prey

I am the devil, I am the savior

Bridge:

I’ve got the blood of angels, on my hands

I’ve got the fire of hell, in my eyes

I’m the king of the abyss, I’m the ruler of the dark

I’m the one that they fear, in the shadows they hark

Chorus:

I am the sinner, I am the saint

I am the darkness, I am the light

I am the hunter, I am the prey

I am the devil, I am the savior

Outro:

So come with me, to the edge of the night

Where the darkness and the light collide

We’ll walk the line, between the good and the bad

And we’ll see, who comes out on top in the end.

Taking it personally

With his invective close to complete Cave acknowledged his profoundly negative reaction.

“It may sound like I’m taking all this a little too personally, but I’m a songwriter who is engaged, at this very moment, in the process of songwriting. It’s a blood and guts business, here at my desk, that requires something of me to initiate the new and fresh idea. It requires my humanness,” said Cave.

The songwriter’s reaction is not wholly unique, although it does seem to be in the minority. The launch of ChatGPT in December has been met with a wave of positivity which Cave describes as “algorithmic awe” but not everyone feels the same.

The encroachment of machines into what was once considered human-only domains provokes a strongly negative emotional reaction in some users. 

Koko, a mental health non-profit, recently encountered a similar phenomenon when they attempted to use ChatGPT to co-author mental health advice and support.

These voices seem to be in the minority, but that minority becomes increasingly vocal when AI forces us to question the very nature of what makes us human.

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