Nick Cave isn’t too impressed with ChatGPT’s capacity for music. On his personal blog, the singer-songwriter gave a withering rebuke to a set of lyrics written by the AI chatbot “in the style of Nick Cave.”
“What ChatGPT is, in this instance, is replication as travesty,” writes Cave. “ChatGPT may be able to write a speech or an essay or a sermon or an obituary but it cannot create a genuine song … Songs arise out of suffering, by which I mean they are predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation and, well, as far as I know, algorithms don’t feel.”
The lyrics were submitted to Cave by a fan named Mark. The Australian musician thanks Mark but goes on to say — “with all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human, and, well, I don’t much like it.”
The song includes the lyrics:
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
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
Since ChatGPT launched last year it’s been something of a sensation. Although the chatbot, created by OpenAI, is not a huge leap forward in artificial intelligence, its open-access launch has given millions the opportunity to play around with the cutting-edge technology, discovering its surprising and varied abilities.
As Cave notes in his blog post, one of ChatGPT’s strengths is its flexibility: the bot is able to write in a huge range of styles. But the system is limited in other ways. It has a tendency to assert incorrect information as fact, for example, and is prone to repeating social biases found in its training data (which is constituted of large chunks of the web).
ChatGPT’s capacity to mimic human prose, though, is challenging many norms. Although Cave thinks algorithms can’t imitate humans because they can’t feel, an absence of feeling isn’t stopping the technology being used widely in other domains. In education, for example, educators warn that ChatGPT is already being widely used to write essays, and that new approaches to education will be necessary to adapt.
Though if Cave is correct, music teachers, at least, should still be able to distinguish between the human and the machine.