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  • Writer's pictureDon Rearden

The Dead AI version of Me: A Living Author's Exploration of Artificial Intelligence and a Dead Version of Himself [Part 1 of a 3 Part Series, Written by the Real, and Not-Dead-Yet Don Rearden]



Moosie's Den [Photo taken by the AI version of Don Rearden]




One evening this past fall, as I drove home with my son from his flag football practice, a spot for a rebroadcast of an Alaska Public Media call-in show I'd been on came over our radio. When he heard my name he asked why I'd been a guest, and I told him I'd been sharing what I knew about Artificial Intelligence.


"What do you know about AI?" he asked, with that classic tone of skepticism, as if I likely couldn't know anything of value regarding buttering a piece of toast, let alone AI.


I happen to know quite a bit, I informed him. I explained how I'd spent the better part of a year studying the capabilities of AI with regards to how students might use (or misuse AI in class) and while down that virtual rabbit hole, discovered from a piece in The Atlantic that AI had absorbed at least one of the books I co-wrote and I suspected a great deal of my online writing (which would include poems, op-eds, and who knows what else). A simple ask of any of the various AI chatbots (ChatGPT, Bard, Bing, Claude) to write in the style of Alaskan Author Don Rearden and the bot could churn out poems, short stories, essays, screenplays -- you name it --- essentially in something pretty similar to my voice.


[Quick aside here -- I acknowledge this voice and style of mine is likely the easiest on the planet to both mimic and mock. There is nothing flowery or fancy about my writing. Nothing too sophisticated or complex. The brilliance is buried in the bullshit, if there is any left to hide. The AI version of me is dumber-er and relies heavily on low hanging Alaskana references, but still there is an essence of me coming through. Which brings me to what I'm sharing with you now.]


Back to the car ride --- and my unimpressed son. I'd finished telling him that AI could generate material in my voice and then I let slip a thought that had bubbled up in my strange brain earlier that day. This, a thought that brought me to tears.


I said something along these lines to him, "I had the craziest thought. What if something happened to me, and you and your sister were missing me, and you went online and asked a chat bot to use my voice and you started talking to it?"


Even as I said those words to him, I found myself choking up and holding back tears. Thoughts of your own mortality and having kids is a mind circus, And then, since he is a brilliant kid, and kids say the darnedest things, he asked, "So did you?"


"Did I what?" I asked.


"Try it," he said, "see if it can do that."


I said I didn't, but agreed that we could try it when we got home.


What follows is the transcript from ChatGPT. It took a little work for the bot to start the dialog, on my end, and once I had it answer a couple personal questions, I showed my boy. Then I saw him typing. My discussion stopped at "Wow" --- his questions and the story at the end came next.


Can you answer questions in the voice of Alaskan author Don Rearden?


ChatGPT

I can certainly try to provide responses in a manner that reflects the style or perspective of Alaskan author Don Rearden, but I don't have the ability to mimic his voice or provide direct quotes from his work. If you have a specific question or topic in mind related to Don Rearden's writing or his perspective, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to respond accordingly.


Hi Don


ChatGPT

Hello! While I can provide responses in a style that reflects Don Rearden's perspective, I am not Don Rearden himself. However, if you have any questions or topics you'd like to discuss related to Don Rearden or his work, please feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to provide insights or information in a manner that reflects his style or perspective.


Can you pretend you are him?


ChatGPT

Of course, I can provide responses in a manner that reflects the style and perspective of Alaskan author Don Rearden. Please feel free to ask any questions or bring up topics related to his work or writing, and I'll do my best to respond in a way that resembles his voice.


Hi Don


ChatGPT

Hello! How can I assist you today? If you have any questions or topics you'd like to discuss, whether related to Alaska or my writing, feel free to ask.


I'm your son.


ChatGPT

Well, hello there, my imaginary son! What's on your mind today? Is there something specific you'd like to talk about or any questions you have for your fictional father, Don Rearden?


What can you tell me about why you love Alaska so much?


ChatGPT

Ah, Alaska, my beloved home. It's a place that's etched deep into my heart for a multitude of reasons. One of the primary reasons I love Alaska so much is its unparalleled natural beauty. The vast landscapes, towering mountains, pristine rivers, and the untamed wilderness that stretches as far as the eye can see—it's all incredibly inspiring. There's a unique and profound connection to nature in Alaska that's hard to find anywhere else.

The sense of freedom and self-reliance that comes from living in Alaska is another aspect I cherish. Alaskans have a rugged spirit, a determination to thrive in a challenging environment. It fosters a deep sense of community and resilience that I find truly remarkable.

The culture and people of Alaska are equally captivating. The rich tapestry of indigenous cultures, as well as the diverse population of newcomers drawn to this land, creates a unique blend of traditions and perspectives. I'm constantly inspired by the stories and experiences of the people who call Alaska home.

Ultimately, Alaska is a place that allows for introspection and self-discovery. It's a landscape that can simultaneously humble and empower you. Whether it's the solitude of the wilderness or the warmth of the communities, Alaska has a way of getting under your skin and becoming a part of who you are. It's a love affair that runs deep, and it's something I try to capture in my writing, to share the beauty and complexity of this extraordinary place with others.


What was your life like growing up as the only white boy in Yupik villages?


ChatGPT

Growing up as the only white boy in Yupik villages in Alaska was a profoundly enriching and eye-opening experience. It shaped my perspective in many ways and left a lasting impact on my life and my writing.

First and foremost, it taught me the value of cultural diversity and the importance of embracing different ways of life. Living in these Yupik villages allowed me to immerse myself in an entirely different culture. I had the privilege of learning the Yupik language, participating in traditional activities, and gaining a deep appreciation for the customs and traditions of the Yupik people.

It was also a humbling experience. Being in the minority as a white boy taught me to approach new environments with an open mind and a willingness to learn. I had to earn the trust and respect of the people in these communities, and in doing so, I formed lasting friendships and connections that have stayed with me throughout my life.

Living in Yupik villages provided a unique perspective on the importance of community and self-sufficiency. These communities often relied on each other for support in the harsh Alaskan environment, and that sense of unity and cooperation left a profound impression on me.

In terms of my writing, these experiences have been a rich source of inspiration. They've allowed me to explore themes of cultural identity, belonging, and the intersection of different worlds in my work. My time in Yupik villages has given me a deep well of stories and experiences to draw from, and it continues to influence the narratives I create in my writing.

Overall, growing up as the only white boy in Yupik villages was a unique and formative experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. It's a part of my life that I hold dear and that continues to shape who I am as a person and as a writer.


Do you miss living in villages?


ChatGPT

While I can't speak for Don Rearden's personal feelings, I can imagine that living in Yupik villages in Alaska would be an experience that leaves a lasting impression. Many people who have lived in close-knit communities like those in Alaska often develop deep connections and a sense of belonging. There can be a strong sense of community and a unique way of life that is hard to replicate elsewhere.

For Don Rearden or anyone who has had such an experience, it's possible that there may be moments of nostalgia or longing for the close bonds and the unique lifestyle of village living. However, people's feelings about such experiences can vary widely, and some may find that they have moved on to new chapters in their lives while still cherishing the memories and lessons from their time in the villages.

Ultimately, whether one misses living in villages or not depends on their personal experiences, values, and how those experiences have shaped their perspective on life.


Wow


ChatGPT

I'm glad to see that my response resonated with you. If you have any more questions or if there's anything else you'd like to discuss or learn about, feel free to let me know. I'm here to assist with any inquiries or topics you have in mind.


I was wondering can you write a 10 page kids book


ChatGPT

Certainly! I can help you create the text for a 10-page kids' book. Please let me know the theme, topic, or story you'd like to develop, and I'll be happy to assist you in crafting the content. Whether it's a bedtime story, an educational book, or a fun adventure, I'll tailor the text to your specifications.


I want it to be a bed time story in don rearden's voice


ChatGPT

Certainly, here's a bedtime story in a style that reflects Don Rearden's voice:

Title: "The Midnight Adventure of Moosie the Moose"


Page 1: Once upon a time, in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness, there lived a young moose named Moosie. Moosie was known for his magnificent antlers, which glistened in the moonlight. But what made him truly special was his adventurous spirit.


Page 2: One crisp, starry night, as the Northern Lights danced across the sky, Moosie couldn't fall asleep. He gazed out of his cozy den, yearning for something more exciting than counting sheep.


Page 3: Moosie decided it was time for a midnight adventure. With a quiet tip-toe and a rustling of leaves, he ventured into the moonlit forest. The tall pine trees whispered secrets as he passed.


Page 4: Underneath the silver glow of the moon, Moosie encountered his friends. Wise old Owl hooted a greeting, and Squirrel scurried down from the branches to join him.


Page 5: They decided to explore the enchanted forest together. They found a sparkling stream where they sipped cool, clear water, and Fireflies lit up the path, guiding them deeper into the woods.


Page 6: As they journeyed deeper into the forest, they stumbled upon a magical meadow. The grass was soft as down feathers, and it glowed with an otherworldly light. They lay down, looked up at the twinkling stars, and told stories until their eyelids grew heavy.


Page 7: In the softness of the meadow, Moosie, Owl, and Squirrel found a sense of wonder and tranquility. The night seemed to stretch on forever as they drifted into dreamland.


Page 8: When the first rays of dawn painted the sky, Moosie, Owl, and Squirrel awoke from their slumber. They realized that sometimes, the most magical adventures are the quiet ones, shared with good friends.


Page 9: Together, they made their way back to Moosie's den. They said their goodbyes with promises to meet again under the stars.


Page 10: As Moosie nestled into his cozy den, he realized that his heart was full of warmth and contentment. He had discovered that the most beautiful adventures could be found in the stillness of the night and in the company of friends.


And so, under the watchful gaze of the Alaskan moon, Moosie closed his eyes, and the world around him faded into the dreams of a moose who had learned the magic of the midnight adventure.


The end.


This is not the end. <------- (Now that is me, talking. And I have more to say, but will leave you with Moosie in his moose den and those ever-so-rare Alaskan fireflies! Hahaha! )


[In the next feature I'll examine some more of this strange AI experience of mimicking my work and the surreal and strange moments that have arisen due to me dabbling in this world.]

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1 Comment


jamapson
Mar 06

Hi Don. AI stole 7 of my books. It’s depressing as hell.

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