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I Tried an A.i.-Based Text Generator.

I Tried A Free A.I-Based Text Generator.

Have you ever heard of a text generator? A text generator is a computer program that generates text, that is, it creates text. If you thought that only a human author can create text, you'd be wrong. The new text generators, which are called 'A.I.' text generators, can mimic the creative process. Someday they may be able to give human authors some serious competition. The abbreviation 'A.I.' stands for Artificial Intelligence. I've read articles about these text generation programs, and I actually found several of them when I did an internet search.

Most of the A.I. text generators that I looked at charged a fee, and the fee structures were often set at various skill levels, for example, the use of a text generator may cost you ten or twenty dollars a month if you're an amateur writer and the price goes up to over a hundred dollars a month if you're a professional writer. I found one that was free, so I decided to try using it. I logged on to their website, and I found it was very easy to use. I had to type some text into a box on the website's interface, and then do a mouse click on a button that was labelled the 'write' button. Clicking on the 'write' button causes their A.I. program to write text that is based upon what you wrote.

I decided to write a short statement about two Biblical characters named Adam and Eve. I wrote a statement that was eleven words long, I wrote: 'Adam slid his hand across the smooth curves of Eve's hips', then I did a mouse clock on the 'write' button, and in about two seconds, the A.I. program had written some text that was based upon my 'Adam and Eve' statement, The A.I. program wrote a statement that was 103 words long, it wrote: 'Adam had been admiring Eve since the moment they met. Her curves were perfection, and he loved the way she smelled. He was excited to finally be alone with her. His hand slid across her hip, pulling her closer as he kissed her neck. She moaned softly, her body molding to his. He ran his hand down her thigh, lifting her leg and wrapping it around his waist. She was so light in his arms, and he could feel her heat against him. Her skin was like silk, and he wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his life exploring it'.

I was impressed with these results. The A.I. program had started with a statement that I wrote, my statement was 11 words long and it wrote a statement that was 103 words long. Expanding an eleven-word statement into a statement that was 103 words long is quite a feat. I decided to try another statement. I remembered a TV show that I watched when I was a boy in the 1960's, the show was called Lost In Space. One of the characters in the show was a man named Doctor Smith. Doctor Smith is verbose, he talks a lot. I wondered what the A.I. program would do if I wrote something that sounded like it came directly from the mouth of Doctor Smith. I wrote a statement that was seventeen words long, it said, 'I'm not afraid of the nattering nabobs of negativity! Step aside, ninny! Never fear, Smith is here!' One of the characters on the show was a robot, and Doctor Smith often called the robot a ninny. The part about the 'nattering nabobs of negativism' is not from Lost In Space, it's actually a quote from a speech made by Spiro Agnew, who was vice-president under Nixon in the late sixties and early seventies. Anyway, I did a mouse click on the the 'write' button and in about two seconds the A.I. program wrote a statement that was 33 words long. It said: 'I'm not afraid of the nattering nabobs of negativity! I'm the Smith, and I'm here to save the day! These ninny nabobs are no match for me! They'll never know what hit them!'

I was a little puzzled when I saw the word 'the' in front of Smith's name. Why did the A.I. program call him 'the' Smith', instead of calling him Smith? The word 'the' in front of Smith's name seemed like it didn't belong there. Part of the A.I. program's statement said 'those ninny nabobs are no match for me!' I assume it was able to do that because the word 'ninny' is an adjective, and in this example, it's an adjective that tell us what kind of ninnies we're dealing with. I suppose it could have inserted any adjective into that sentence. If we assume that the A.I. program draws upon a data base that includes scripts from old TV shows like Lost In Space, could we also assume it could draw upon a data base that includes transcripts of Spiro Agnew speeches? I suppose it would have to get information from as many data bases as possible, if it's going to generate text that resembles text written by humans. Despite the flaws, it seemed to be a well-written statement, it seemed to fit appropriately into the context provided by the actual personality of the Doctor Smith character in the Lost in Space TV show.

I also tried to see if the A.I. program could be used to embellish a well-known phrase. Could you type a Bible verse into an A.I. program and have it write a prayer based on that Bible verse? I thought of the first words in the Bible, that say, 'In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth', so I typed these words in to the box, and then I did a mouse click on the 'write' button. I was a little disappointed with the results. The A.I. program simply printed first paragraphs in the Bible. I had typed in the first nine words in the Bible, and the A.I. responded by outputting the first 88 words in the Bible, including the part about how God said 'let there be light', and so on. The A.I. program simply reproduced the first 88 words in the Bible, verbatim, without any embellishment. I expected it to do more than that. I thought that it could write a prayer, but it failed.

I wondered what would happen if I typed in a well-known phrase, so I typed in the first line of the pledge of allegiance, which is six words long. I typed, "I pledge allegiance to the flag' and I did a mouse click on the 'write' button. The A.I. program responded by writing the entire pledge of allegiance, which is 31 words long. Next, I tried the Gettysburg Address. This was a famous speech made by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19th, 1863. I had learned the speech when I was a boy in school, and I could remember part of it, so I typed: 'Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers founded a great nation, conceived in liberty', that's fifteen words long. I did a mouse click on the 'write' button and the A.I. program wrote a statement that was 77 words long that said , in part, 'Our founding fathers had a vision for this country, and we are proud to carry on their legacy. We are proud of our history, and we will continue to work hard to make America the best it can be'. Somehow, that didn't sound like Lincoln. In his speech, Lincoln talked about the civil war, and the A.I. program was unable to place the text into a wartime framework. The A.I. program did succeed in placing the text in a patriotic context, but it failed to calculate the meaning of the speech precisely. Lincoln was making a somber statement about the horrors of war, and the A.I.program made it into an upbeat patriotic message.

I wondered if the A.I. program could generate text and place it in a political context. I typed in a well-known quote from Thurgood Marshall. He was a supreme court justice who said 'separate but equal is inherently unequal'. It was from a court ruling made on May 17, 1954. This statement by Thurgood Marshall is six words long, it was from a historic ruling in a supreme court case on racial segregation. The A.I. program responded by generating 167 words of text, which said, in part: 'The term 'separate but equal' was first used in the United States in 1892. The phrase was used to describe the policy of segregation, which was used to keep black people and white people separate'. To me, it seemed like this was copied straight out of Wikipedia. It looked like the A.I. program may have copied the text directly from a Wikipedia article about Thurgood Marshall. I had typed in a Thurgood Marshall quote that was six words long and the A.I. program gave me 167 words that were not specifically related to Thurgood Marshall. I wondered where the A.I. program was getting all of this stuff. It's plausible that the A.I. program depends upon a vast data base, and this data base may include information that comes from websites, perhaps from Wikipedia or other encyclopedia-type websites. That's certainly plausible in the case of the pledge of allegiance or a Thurgood Marshall quote, but I seriously doubt that the A.I. program obtains information from data bases containing scripts form old TV shows like Lost In Space.

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Does anyone remember a rock musician from the 1970's named Frank Zappa? I decided to type in a few words of some song lyrics written by Frank Zappa, to see if the A.I. program would embellish the lyrics. Perhaps the A.I. program would write song that resembled a song by Frank Zappa. I remembered a Frank Zappa song called 'Po-jama People' so I typed in some of the lyrics from the song, I typed: 'The pajama people are boring me to pieces! They make me feel like I am wasting my time! They all got flannel up and down them, a little trap door back around them and some cozy little footies on their mind!' That's 41 words long. The A.I. responded by creating a statement that was 73 words long. It said: I can't help but think that the pajama people are kind of missing the point. Life it too short to spend all day in your jammies. Sure they're comfortable and all, but there's so much more to life than lounging around in your PJ's. The pajama people need to get out more. Explore the world. Go on some adventures. Maybe then they'll see that there's more to life then just being cozy and comfortable'. So my 41-word input caused the A.I. program to produce a 73-word output that doesn't really sound like the lyrics to a Frank Zappa song. Despite the A.I. program's clumsy handling of the context, I was impressed with it's mastery of slang. A slang word like 'jammies' isn't what I expected. Apparently the A.I. program has plenty of slang words in it's data base.

After using the A.I. program for a few hours, one question I have is, how much does the A.I. program depend on grabbing data from other people's data bases? In the examples I've given above, it appeared to take text directly from the Bible, instead of generating original text with a religious theme. It also appeared to take text directly from the pledge of allegiance instead of generating original text with a patriotic theme. In some of these examples, like the Gettyburg Address and the Thurgood Marshall quote, it looked like it was grabbing data from Wikipedia or some other encyclopedia-type website. In the example of the Frank Zappa song it seemed to obtain the slang word 'jammies', which it probably got from a data base of slang words, but it failed to process any data that relates to the style or character of Frank Zappa's lyrics. It's dependence on data bases may be one if it's greatest shortcomings. If it's unable to generate text with a satirical theme, then it's never going to sound like a satirical song by Frank Zappa. If it's unable to generate text with a religious theme, then it's never going to be able to create an original prayer that's based on a Bible verse.

To summarize, I'd say that A.I. text generators have a lot of potential,but it will probably be a long time before they become practical for the average writer to use.

© 2022 Anthony Ratkov

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