Why I Don't Like ChatGPT
It was 1994. A family friend led me and my buddy to his office computer. He typed something and hit enter. We waited. Slowly, it took about thirty seconds, an image unfolded on the screen. It was a naked woman. Neither of us had seen pornography on a computer before.
It was 2023. A businessman needed a summary of a topic for a meeting. He went to his computer, typed something into ChatGPT and hit enter. Slowly, it took about thirty seconds, an essay unfolded on the screen.
I’m just going to get right to it. The artificial intelligence used in programs like ChatGPT is porn with words. Maybe you knew something felt wrong about it and you couldn't put your finger on it, but there it is. At best A.I. is the pornographying of words, at worst, it is the pornographying of logos, which is much more serious, because logos is meaning itself.
There’s no getting around it.
Think about porn (well, don’t think too much about it!). Despite what you might believe, porn isn’t real. It’s not real sex, those are not real bodies, and sexual fulfillment is not really happening. The three main purposes of sex do not happen with porn: there’s no relational intimacy, there’s no procreation, and there’s no thorough-going physical pleasure.
Instead, porn is a conglomeration of disparate scenes, images, and situations, mashed into a fantasy story. It doesn’t help your real sex life, in fact, it detracts from it in very destructive ways. It doesn’t help you appreciate those you love, but it makes them mere objects and victims. You are turned into a sick perpetrator, and the body on the screen becomes your abused victim. There’s simply no way around this.
So here’s my analogy. What porn is to the flesh, artificial intelligence is to the soul. Both destroy, but the former does it from one side and the latter from the other side.
This will be the worst part of these thoughts, I promise, so bear with me. Imagine a man looking at porn and then gratifying himself in the presence of his lover, who longs to be with him. That would be a very sick, narcissistic man. What is he communicating to his lover: You don’t matter.
In the same way, the artificial intelligence of ChatGPT communicates the same message. A.I. says to ALL OF US: you don’t matter.
Your experiences don’t matter, your thoughts don’t matter, your feelings don’t matter, your life-situation doesn’t matter, your abilities don’t matter, your suffering doesn’t matter, your limitations don’t matter, your opinions don’t matter, the way you show up in the world doesn’t matter. YOU DON’T MATTER.
Programs like ChatGPT abuse words and ideas. Porn may destroy true intercourse; artificial intelligence destroys true discourse. It trafficks innocent words. It takes the best of them and forces them to do its pleasure. ChatGPT only produces fake situations, fake stories, fake scenes, and fake thoughts. The user thinks he has the real thing, but it’s only a fantasy, made up of the best ‘bodies’ of work online.
Let’s say you enter what you’d like to see into ChatGPT, and it fabricates an essay for you. It’s factual, clear, and organized. It’s the exact amount of words you need, at the right level of education, for the right audience, in the right genre, and so forth. You say, “What’s wrong with that?”
Are you kidding me????
It’s not real! It’s a fantasy. It’s causing you to become unintegrated–that is, disintegrated.
You didn’t do the work. The thoughts didn’t flow from your heart to your imagination and then through your voice. ChatGPT said, “You don’t matter!” You’re not good enough; your words are not as sexy and polished as my words; you can’t perform like us; you just sit there while I pleasure myself in a fantasy world. I don’t love you, your brain, or your body of work.”
Think I’m joking? Deep down, we know this is what we’re getting into. Imagine going to the gym and having someone else lift weights and run for you. Did you get the benefits of exercise? Of course not. But, now imagine you claimed that person’s workout as your own? You would not grow. We all know it’s better to have a lousy workout than no workout at all. And it’s supremely better to write a bad poem, a bad essay, a bad summary, than to do no ‘workout’ at all.
A.I. and ChatGPT are soulless. They leave no room for our messiness, mistakes, failures, and, most importantly, our shadow. Like porn uses someone just for his or her body and tosses them to the curb, so does A.I. use us and toss the rest of us to the side. It only thinks the most 'voluptuous' words are best, the most 'developed' phrases only matter, and the 'hottest' takes worthwhile. It’ll produce all that for you and then takes your money, thank you very much. Not only do your words become a commodity, but so do you.
Meanwhile, you never learn what YOU think, you never learn that YOU matter, and you never realize YOU have something to offer. You never meet your muse, experience the bliss of finding true inspiration, and never learn the joy of standing on tiptoe, stretching to be better, even if you fall short.
Further, this world was meant to be organized by beings with souls, who were made in the image of God, and who are open and ‘vulnerable’ to divine influence. Computers cannot interact with the divine, have no soul, and are incapable of ruling/stewarding this world to make it truly flourish. Only beings with souls can do this.
We’re told that the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14). This profound truth shows us how reality works: words and ideas always seek to embody themselves. If I say the word ‘cup’ then you expect me to show you a real cup. The word and matter (the cup) must match. If I say “cup” and show you a rock, then there’s not a match. If I tell you I’m giving you a phone, but when you receive it, you discover it doesn’t work, you’d be upset. My words didn’t match-up to reality. Words seek reality.
And it works the other way around, too. Reality seeks to be put into words. God told Adam to ‘put into words’ the various animals of the garden by naming them. Make sure the reality matches the words. Otherwise, you’re a liar, a hypocrite, or an idiot.
ChatGPT violates this normal pattern of reality. It doesn’t try to represent (or re-present) reality as with the word ‘cup’ and a real cup. Instead, it’s trying to make reality ex nihilo (out of nothing). It’s trying to play God, and that is by far the most dangerous thing a human can do. People who play God become serial killers. They have no regard for reality or any other person, but only for themselves and their own sick fantasies. That’s what porn does, and that’s what ChatGPT will do.
Artificial Intelligence is attempting to bypass the way God designed reality to work by becoming God, itself. This is what all lies do: fabricate a false reality apart from aligning itself to how life really is.
Pornography is a lie because you can’t get a naked woman in your office in just thirty seconds or less. To do it the true way, you must grow, become a mature and winsome man, who is able to provide, has character, and something to offer. Then you have to prove yourself by making sacrifices, woo, care for, and inspire the woman. She has to love you, trust you, and feel safe around you. From the time you’re a boy to a developed man who is ready for this kind of commitment, years must go by, not seconds. The lies of porn violate the slow and precious ‘incarnation’ of the idea (word) of becoming a lover, by making it cheap and running roughshod over the beloved.
And to write an essay, such as on penguins, takes years, as well. You must hear the speech of your parents, learn how to talk, learn how to think, and grow in knowledge. You must learn to experience, do research, formulate your ideas, and put them into sentences. Then you must add the most important part: yourself and your incarnate wisdom. Because you were made in the image of God, you have what it takes to ‘rule’ and ‘reign’ over this world, organize it, describe it in your own words, and care for it. Your life and soul play a vital role, even in a lousy essay about penguins.
That’s my two cents.