A writer watched her husband become enthralled with AI technology, using it as an outlet for his own type of storytelling. But, ChatGPT’s — and his — penchant for violent narratives made her wary.
When my husband, Gary, first started playing with ChatGPT, I thought it would be a passing fancy. He finds new technology intriguing and usually tries to test its limits before growing bored. But I reconsidered the intensity of his relationship with the program when I awoke at 2 a.m. one night to the light of his iPad and found him gleefully immersed in feeding the AI sitcom premises.
“Listen to this,” he said. “You’ve got to hear these stories. They’re fascinating.” He started with a show from his childhood, I Love Lucy. He gave the AI an era-appropriate but slightly risqué premise: “Fred buys Ethel a corset.” In ChatGPT’s plot, Ethel struggles to put the corset on, enlists Lucy’s help, fails, and then hands the corset over to Lucy, who also tries to put it on and gets stuck in it. The “girls” destroy the Ricardos’ NYC apartment in the process. Ricky gets home and bellows his trademark “Lucy!!!” Hilarity ensues.
Gary moved through the eras and sitcoms with the same premise until he got to Maude, the 1970s All in the Family spin-off, with its second-wave feminist protagonist and her supportive but not always enlightened husband, Walter. “Walter gives Maude a corset,” Gary prompted. The real Maude would have protested; what did she need a corset for?