A sonnet about typewriters — by a surprising author

by | Dec 6, 2022 | artificial intelligence | 5 comments

In days of old, when pens were all the rage,

And scribes would labor o’er their written page, 
A new machine came forth to take their place, 
A marvel of the age, the typewriter’s grace. 

With keys that clicked and clacked, it could convey 
The writer’s thoughts with speed and clarity, 
No more the need for ink or messy quill, 
This wondrous tool could fill the page at will. 
But as the years went on and technology grew, 
The typewriter’s reign began to fade, 
Replaced by screens and keyboards sleek and new, 
Its once-proud sound now but a distant shade. 

Yet still it stands, a relic of the past, 
A reminder of a time that couldn’t last.
Not bad. There are some defects in the rhyme and meter, but it’s pretty amusing. 
The author is ChatGPT, which took about five seconds to produce a “Shakespearean sonnet about typewriters” when I requested one. 
Nightcafe took about that long to generate this image of “Shakespeare and a typewriter.” (I selected the best of the four options it gave me.)

Just in the last year, AI has made such leaps that I feel a sea change coming in the world’s whole culture. A couple of days ago I jotted some clumsy thoughts about it in my journal—which I’ll reproduce here in handwriting, just to annoy the text-recognition bots. Notes: That German word is Gesamtkunstwerke, and “privacing” is a concept I explain here.


  1. Ted

    Heh, your handwriting befuddles the bots, but I can catch a word here & there :D

  2. MartyH

    AI rehashes what it found. It's a lot like Vivaldi recycling from his own earlier works. But it's still what was written/drawn/captured then. The creation is a matter of pastiche. Clever pastiche. From among the bricollage real art emerges, new forms, new unpredicted thoughts.
    Just my 2¢.

  3. Richard P

    Thanks, I agree with your comments. This is all an extension of Google's simple idea from the late '90s: rely on humans to make individual judgments, and use computers to find patterns in the human decisions. This technique doesn't make our machines "intelligent" in the way we are, or conscious. But the results are getting more and more impressive, and as you say, they can be surprising and provocative. I think this trend will create a deep extension and transformation of human consciousness and culture.

  4. Anonymous

    It would be nice if AI-generated content was fingerprinted as such. I am seeing AI plagiarism run rampant, and unscrupulous individuals are using AI-generated content for sales, marketing, even CVs. "AI" also seems to highlight human laziness to vet information, and as Marty insinuates, AI bots are going to be referencing AI-generated materials, and pretty soon finding factual root information may only be possible with printed materials. But alas, even that is not fail-safe. I don't like it.

  5. Richard P

    Agreed, Anonymous. If we thought we were in a post-truth society before, just wait until everything degenerates into a battle of computer-generated text, images, and videos. My short story in Paradigm Shifts is one attempt to imagine the consequences.


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