Nick Cave, the Bad Seeds frontman whose songs are tinged with a healthy dose of death, forlorn love, and religion, is no fan of ChatGPT‘s lyrical ambitions. The popular AI bot has drawn both praise and concern for its ability to generate conversational and nuanced text responses in simple, clean sentences. Since its release in November by the artificial intelligence lab OpenAI, ChatGPT has written everything from sitcom scripts to literature essays to, now, rather convincing rock songs.
This has left people worried about the ramifications for industries across the creative spectrum, and one of those people is Cave himself. In his latest The Red Hand Files newsletter, Cave took on the subject of AI generated music. Responding to a fan who had sent in a song that ChatGPT had generated “in the style of Nick Cave,” the singer and an unambiguous response to the bot: “The apocalypse is well on its way,” he wrote.
The song itself was somewhat convincing: “I am the sinner, I am the saint / I am the darkness, I am the light / I am the hunter, I am the prey /I am the devil, I am the savior,” read the chorus. But as the singer pointed out, it missed the humanity of a human-derived work.
“What ChatGPT is, in this instance, is replication as travesty,” Cave wrote. “It could perhaps in time create a song that is, on the surface, indistinguishable from an original, but it will always be a replication, a kind of burlesque…. Songs arise out of suffering, by which I mean they are predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation and, well, as far as I know, algorithms don’t feel. Data doesn’t suffer. ChatGPT has no inner being, it has been nowhere, it has endured nothing, it has not had the audacity to reach beyond its limitations, and hence it doesn’t have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations from which to transcend.”
He continued, “Mark, thanks for the song, but with all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human.”
While the multi-talented ChatGPT has been described as “stochastic parrots” trained on statistical regularities as opposed to, as Cave puts it, “the human experience,” the technology is still in its nascent stages. Still, as the software evolves, many artists have criticized AI’s ability to generate content based on copyrighted works, and as illustrated by the Nick Cave-esque song, it’s already happening.
While Cave noted that he didn’t care much for the AI-penned song, he did point out one line that spoke to him. “‘I’ve got the fire of hell in my eyes’ — says the song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’, and that’s kind of true,” he wrote. “I have got the fire of hell in my eyes — and it’s ChatGPT.”