I’ve been using ChatGPT as a writing tool for a little while now, and I find it to be surprisingly useful. For instance: I might ask it to come up with an introductory paragraph for an article on a specific subject (because I often find the first few sentences to be the most difficult part), or generate a bunch of SEO titles for something I’ve already written, or give me a bunch of examples that help illustrate a thing I’m describing. I never use what ChatGPT produces word for word, but it’s a great assist for getting past the blank-page bummers.

I’m not sure what I think about AI in general, except that I definitely dislike those cartoony avatar-generating apps that seem custom-designed to make people feel bad about themselves. We’ve certainly seen some dizzying advances incorporating AI into all sorts of systems in the last few years, and it’s hard to picture where it’s all going to go. Maybe AI is going to take humanity to an even darker place, and very very soon! Or maybe AI will lead us to incredibly valuable developments we would not have been able to achieve on our own! Or maybe what I actually think I’m experiencing in real life is just a simulation from a future when AI-run virtual reality systems can generate an entire fully believable existence when you tap the “49-year-old lady from Eugene, Oregon, with two teenage boys and an ill-advised number of cats” gaming lozenge that’s implanted near our pollution-straining gills!

I do know that when I first started hearing about copy-generating AI chatbots I was enormously resistant; I mean I really had a comically knee-jerk reaction to the whole concept. You take that job-destroying COMMIE WORD ROBOT and you shove it RIGHT UP YOUR— you get it.

It’s pretty interesting to be middle-aged in this time of rapid technological change. I’m somewhere between what I always used to be — a curious early adopter — and what I seem to be turning into, which is basically straight-up Andy Rooney.