ChatGPT has a place in the writing world. We tested it to show you how to use it wisely.
ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have profound implications for nearly every human activity on Earth. Writing is no exception.
Unless the details of your life exist online, ChatGPT cannot write your story. It does not know who you are. It does not know your first crush, your first kiss, who you took to prom, your military service, or your favorite food. It can’t write these things because it doesn’t know them.
The Limitations of ChatGPT
ChatGPT also has significant limitations. For example, let’s say you’re writing about the day you met your wife. You know it was Valentine’s Day 1995, and you were in Paris. You might ask ChatGPT what happened in the City of Light that day, hoping for a lively paragraph to add to your narrative. We tested ChatGPT to see if it worked. Here’s what we got:
DIYBook: Tell me what was happening in Paris on Valentine's Day, 1995.
ChatGPT: I do not have access to the specific events that occurred on Valentine's Day 1995 in Paris. However, I can provide some general information about what was happening in Paris around that time.
We were surprised that ChatGPT could not generate a response based on news articles or other historical information online. So we asked a more specific question:
DIYBook: What was the weather like in Paris on Valentine's Day in 1995?
ChatGPT: I'm sorry, but as an AI language model, I don't have access to real-time weather data, historical weather data archives or external databases, and my training data only goes up to 2021, so I can't provide you with an accurate answer about the weather in Paris on Valentine's Day in 1995. However, I can tell you that February is typically a cold month in Paris, with average temperatures ranging from 2°C (36°F) to 9°C (48°F), and there is a chance that it could have been rainy or snowy as well.
ChatGPT’s response is nonsensical; if its data cutoff is 2021, then it should be able to access data from 1995, and for whatever reason it can’t seem to scour the internet for historical weather data.
We wanted to try one more time. So we asked ChatGPT what kind of stone was used to build Notre Dame. The response was as follows:
Chat GPT: The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is primarily constructed from a type of limestone known as "Paris stone" or "Lutetian limestone." This particular type of limestone is found in quarries around Paris and was widely used in the construction of many historic buildings in the city. The limestone is a light gray color and is known for its durability and ability to resist weathering over time. Some other notable buildings in Paris that are constructed from Paris stone include the Louvre Museum and the Palace of Versailles.
Looks good, but can we trust it? We confirmed most of ChatGPT’s response at The French National Centre for Scientific Research, though we could not verify the “light gray color.” In fact, Lutetian limestone appears in a range of colors from buttery yellow to creamy gray.
ChatGPT and other AI tools will undoubtedly improve, and maybe in a few years (or months), it will successfully generate a paragraph about what was going on in Paris on Valentine’s Day in 1995.
But even when these improvements happen, only you know your story-how the scent of morning baguettes taunted your empty stomach, and how a magnificent sunset seared your eyes because you had lost your sunglasses on the Metro. That’s why DIYBook was created: to help you tell your story with carefully tailored and well-organized writing prompts that professional ghostwriters typically use when interviewing clients to generate material for their books. Now you can use those same tools for a fraction of the cost.
What Does This Mean For You?
ChatGPT can be a helpful writing tool, and its capabilities will online improve. For now, play around with ChatGPT while you’re writing your story, but don’t expect miracles.