You’ve probably heard about ChatGPT, OpenAI’s new AI chatbot that can spin up essays, poems, Twitter replies, and short stories at the drop of a hat. We at Gizmodo had heard so much about the app’s fiction writing abilities, we thought: why not have it write some science fiction? It seemed like a good genre for the robot to tackle.
The idea for our project was simple: have the chatbot write a story in the style of H.P. Lovecraft, the master of sci-fi horror. Lovecraft is basically the grandfather of modern science fiction and his talent for writing menacing stories of mind-bending horror seemed like a cool thing to give the robot a crack at.
From a fairly simple prompt, ChatGPT managed to come up with the story of Sam, a Silicon Valley engineer and entrepreneur who accidentally unleashes an ancient evil while tinkering on several AI products. Sam is then forced to go on a multi-year quest to stop the menace from taking over the world. We decided to call it “The Return of the Crawling Evil,” in honor of H.P.
Disclaimer: the end result of our little experiment was not anything like the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Instead, the writing is pretty dopey. It more resembles B-list sci-fi pulp than anything that might qualify as serviceable fiction. That said, even if it’s not going to get nominated for any Hugo Awards, this story is ultimately fiction that was written via algorithm—which is pretty damn weird and worth checking out.
It should be noted that “Crawling Evil” was truly a collaboration between human and machine. ChatGPT wrote all of the prose, but that prose had to be edited. The chatbot has a habit of repeating itself in an annoying way, which makes reading some of its copy not so fun. Thus, roughly a dozen sentences were shortened, and others had to be taken out entirely. Only one sentence was directly re-written by me, a human, and it has been marked with an asterisk. The chapter names were also written by me, as was the name of the story.
We also used DALL-E, OpenAI’s image generator, to make illustrations for each chapter—so a robot both wrote this story and also illustrated it.
For more details on how the chatbot and I collaborated, check out the last slide, which provides additional notes and context. Other than that though, feel free to click through “The Return of the Crawling Evil” and see what ChatGPT hath wrought.