A novel idea

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

US Constitution, Amendment One

In the Court’s view, Buckley and Bellotti decisively rejected the possibility of distinguishing corporations from natural persons

Justice John Paul Stevens

The Court has thus rejected the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not “natural persons.”  Id., at 776; see id., at 780, n. 16. Cf. id., at 828 (Rehnquist, J., dissenting).

Justice Anthony Kennedy

n the 2014 case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the US Supreme Court ruled that the contraceptive mandate promulgated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act violated privately held, for-profit corporations’ right to religious freedom. 

Reem Gerais, Arizona State University

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

US Constitution, Amendment Two

We now understand, thanks to the United States Supreme Court, that corporations are persons, with the same rights as “natural persons”; at least in regard to First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion.

If corporations have the rights of persons, and persons have the right to keep and bear arms, it stands to reason that corporations have the right to form and arm private militias. This would bring a whole new meaning to the term “trade war”. This is your prompt. Go write a novel. Keep in mind that Sinclair Lewis taught us, in 1935, that “It Can’t Happen Here”. Or did he teach us the opposite?

I gave ChatGPT a shot at this with the following prompt: “The US Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are persons and entitled to the same freedoms of speech and religion as “natural persons”. By extension, the second amendment rights to form militias and to keep and bears arms must therefore apply to corporations. Please write a story about a future trade war between corporate militias.

In the year 2045, the United States of America had transformed into a corporate dystopia. Large multinational corporations had taken over the country, and their power had grown to such an extent that they were now considered “persons” by law. With this legal status, corporations had gained the right to bear arms and form militias, and they had wasted no time in using these new powers to their advantage.

The first sign of trouble came when a small biotech company, BioGen, filed a lawsuit against a rival firm, TerraPharma, claiming that TerraPharma had stolen their intellectual property. TerraPharma denied the accusation and responded by forming a corporate militia to protect their facilities and personnel. BioGen, not to be outdone, also formed their own militia, and the stage was set for a corporate trade war.

Within days, other corporations began to take sides, either joining BioGen or TerraPharma, based on their business interests. The corporate militias, armed to the teeth with the latest weapons and technology, began to engage in skirmishes and raids against each other. The streets of major cities were filled with armed personnel, and the public was caught in the middle.

As the conflict escalated, the government struggled to maintain control. The Supreme Court, which had granted corporations the same rights as natural persons, now found itself powerless to intervene. The military, too, was hesitant to act, as many of its top brass had been lured away by lucrative offers from the corporations.

The trade war raged on for months, with no end in sight. The corporations, accustomed to operating in a cutthroat business environment, had no qualms about using extreme measures to gain an edge over their rivals. Reports of sabotage, espionage, and even assassination attempts began to surface.

Finally, a coalition of concerned citizens and smaller businesses formed a grassroots movement to end the conflict. They organized protests, rallies, and boycotts against the warring corporations, and demanded that the government take action to restore order. The movement quickly gained momentum, and soon, even some of the corporations began to [There was an error generating a response]

ChatGPT (take one)

In the year 2050, the landscape of global trade had drastically changed. Corporations had become more powerful than ever before, and the lines between government and business had blurred. The Supreme Court ruling that corporations were entitled to the same freedoms as “natural persons” had set the stage for a new era of corporate power.

As the world’s top corporations vied for dominance, they began forming their own private militias, heavily armed and ready to defend their interests at any cost. The Second Amendment, once intended for individual citizens, was now being applied to corporate entities, allowing them to keep and bear arms in their pursuit of profit.

At first, the corporate militias were used mainly for protection against local threats, such as theft and vandalism. But as the competition between corporations became more intense, the militias began to take a more aggressive role. Soon, corporate wars were being waged across the globe, with armed conflicts erupting in boardrooms and factories alike.

The first major conflict broke out between two of the world’s largest tech giants. The corporations had been locked in a bitter trade dispute, each accusing the other of stealing intellectual property. When negotiations failed, the two companies turned to their private militias.

The conflict quickly escalated, with each side recruiting mercenaries and purchasing advanced weaponry. The fighting spread to other countries, drawing in allies and enemies alike. It wasn’t long before the conflict had become a full-blown trade war, with corporations choosing sides and aligning themselves with one another.

As the war raged on, the toll on human life and the environment became increasingly devastating. Corporate armies flattened entire cities, leaving millions of people homeless and destitute. The world watched in horror as corporations fought for profit at the expense of human life and the environment.

Finally, after years of conflict, the international community stepped in to mediate. The corporations were forced to lay down their arms and negotiate a peace settlement. The resulting treaty established new rules for corporate behavior, limiting the power and influence of corporations and putting an end to the corporate militias.

The trade war had come at a great cost, but it had also forced the world to confront the dangers of unchecked corporate power. In the aftermath of the conflict, there was a renewed commitment to creating a more equitable and sustainable global economy, one that put people and the planet before profits.

ChatGPT (take two)

I’d say ChatGPT was a bit short on character development but had the right idea. I think this topic has room for development. Richard Morgan, in the novel “Market Forces”, posits a near future in which business executives take their jobs seriously. An executive’s job is to execute and they execute their competitors on the highway with souped-up cars. (If I remember right, the protagonist drives a BMW.)

I’m sure I could do better than the bot, but I’m not a novelist, so I offer this free of charge. On second thought, if you write a novel from this prompt, I want an acknowledgement.

La Salle St After Hours #2 (take 3)

Yesterday’s post juxtaposed two essays, one written by a person and one by ChatGPT, an AI program. I asked which was which.

When I tried to write this follow-up, YouTube decided I was a robot and wouldn’t let me add links to the post. The post then disappeared. The next take froze and wouldn’t accept my CAPTCHA responses. Now it was sure I was a robot. Then ChatGPT erased the additional essays that I was going to discuss. I finally used two different browsers, one for Chat GPT and YouTube links and another to write the post. So here is #2, take 3.

ChatGPT wrote a convincing essay about a non-existent oil painting. One might say it was brimming with “alternative facts”. John Wright (1934-2017) was a jazz pianist from Chicago. His debut album, “South Side Soul” was released in 1960 with Wendell Roberts on bass and Walter McCants on drums.

When I changed the prompt to call it a “composition” instead of a “piece”, ChatGPT took minutes to begin writing, then spit out the same essay with a different conclusion, using new adjectives in the final paragraph to describe the fictional painting.

I tried again, calling it a “jazz composition”. ChatGPT continued to insist it was a 1991 work and now highlighted the virtuosity of the saxophonist, discussing his “quick runs” and arpeggios. Since the work is for piano, bass, and drums, I wondered where the AI found sax, so I asked. ChatGPT told me there were many recordings of this piece with different saxophonists, so I needed to be more specific. When I gave it specifics, it spit this back:

Thank you for providing additional information. The 1960 recording of “South Side Soul” features John Wright on piano, Frank Derrick on drums, and Frank Walton on trumpet. The saxophonist on this recording is Harold Ousley. Ousley was a talented tenor saxophonist who played with a number of notable jazz musicians over the course of his career, including Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, and Dizzy Gillespie. His soulful, bluesy style of playing is a perfect fit for the “La Salle St After Hours” composition, and his solo on the recording is a highlight of the performance.

As you may note, the only fact on this which is accurate and relevant is that John Wright plays the piano; but I told it that. The others are real musicians but did not play on this record. These actually are “alternative facts”, in that they are factual but have nothing to do with the question asked. It would be like the student who has some knowledge of the general topic but none about the question asked, so fills an essay with stuff that is true but irrelevant. Ousley’s “soulful, bluesy style of playing” is certainly not “a highlight of the performance”.

While I’ve read multiple essays warning about ChatGPT being used by students to do their homework, I would give the bot an ‘F’ on every one of its attempts. If I knew nothing of the work, I may have been convinced. Knowing the work, I’d know the student cheated. Not knowing the work would have necessitated about a minute of Googling to know the essays on painting were lies. Another couple of minutes would have been required to know those which called it jazz were no better.

The other essay, about the pianist playing late into the night after the club had closed, was written by a student from an exam prompt. The students were given two prompts and the piece was played twice in succession. They had to place the piece in a musical, cultural, and historical context in one essay and write a personal reaction in the second essay. It had to be written while the piece was playing and handed in a couple of minutes after the music stopped, so the bot and the human were working in about the same timeframe, kind of like John Henry and the steam drill.

It may not have been fair that I used the student’s second essay and not the first, which may have borne some minor stylistic resemblance to the ChatGPT essay; but I think this illustrates perhaps the most important issue. What is “intelligence”? To me, it is more about the ability to learn than it is about the accumulated knowledge. We don’t call an encyclopedia “intelligent” though it contains a lot of information. At the same time, we don’t belittle a child’s intelligence because they have not yet accumulated a vast store of knowledge. We note a child’s intelligence via the capacity to learn. Learning arises from not knowing. If we don’t know and we are aware of that, we can learn. This AI bot is stupid. Why? Because it makes shit up. If you hide your lack of knowledge by making shit up, you don’t learn. As a programmer, I learned GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. What came out of ChatGPT was Garbage.

Thanks for playing. As your prize for playing our game, here is the title cut from “South Side Soul”.