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”.

La Salle St After Hours

A few friends have played with, and posted the results of, ChatGPT. When I finally tried it, they said they were not taking new entries. Today I was allowed into the club.

I said, “please write an essay about the John Wright piece ‘La Salle St After Hours’.” What follows are two essays, one written by a human and the other by the AI. They were both written on a tight timeframe and unedited. Which is which?

The bass line and cymbal figures immediately drew me in. The piano, playing on the bass keys, sets itself firmly in that groove. Soon I had an image dancing before my eyes.

It is late at night. I hear the occasional rumble of the El overhead. A man, bleary-eyed and weary, sits at the piano. The bar is closed; the band has gone home. His drink, now mostly melted ice cubes, still sits on the piano from the last set.

A smoky haze still hangs in the club. It smells of stale beer. He starts to play, squinting through the smoke of the cigarette that dangles from his mouth. He starts to play; tentatively at first, then it starts to pour out of him. He starts to shake, starts to sweat. The drummer reappears from the shadows. A drum roll, a crescendo, he tosses aside his cigarette and PLAYS. The piano is an extension of his soul and he plays what he could not bear to face, what the audience could not bear to hear. He swoops and he soars; into the depths of his despair and to the heights of his possibilities. The bass and drums are here, as with him as you can be with a man alone.

I am the busboy, standing in the shadows. I can’t bear to leave and go back to my work, can’t bear to step into the light and be seen. I can’t NOT listen – but I feel like an intruder. I stand transfixed as the music fills the empty club around me. I know what it’s like to be alone and lonely at 3 AM, unable to sleep and needing to get it out. And I watch his shirt soak through, and I see his suit stick to him from the sweat. And I know I’ll make it through another night, as the El rumbles overhead and the building shakes to its foundation, and the man at the piano shakes to his foundation.

“La Salle St After Hours” is a captivating artwork by John Wright that captures the essence of Chicago’s financial district at night. The painting depicts a view of La Salle Street, a famous street in downtown Chicago, which is the heart of the city’s financial district. The piece is an oil painting on canvas and was completed in 1991.

One of the most striking features of “La Salle St After Hours” is its use of color. The painting is dominated by a warm yellow light that illuminates the buildings on the street. The warm tones create a feeling of intimacy and coziness that is juxtaposed with the cold, dark sky above. The contrast between light and dark in the painting is also evident in the deep shadows that are cast by the buildings. The shadows are so deep that they almost appear black, adding to the dramatic effect of the painting.

Another interesting aspect of the painting is the use of perspective. The buildings on La Salle Street are tall and imposing, and they seem to stretch endlessly into the distance. The perspective gives the viewer a sense of the sheer size and grandeur of the city’s financial district. This sense of scale is further enhanced by the fact that the painting is quite large, measuring 72 inches by 60 inches.

Despite the grandeur of the scene, there is a sense of stillness and quietness in the painting. The absence of people and cars on the street creates a feeling of emptiness and solitude. The only signs of life in the painting are the lights in the buildings, which suggest that there are people working late into the night. This creates a sense of mystery and intrigue, as the viewer is left to wonder what goes on in the offices of the financial district after hours.

Overall, “La Salle St After Hours” is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece of art that captures the essence of Chicago’s financial district. The use of color, perspective, and composition all work together to create a scene that is both grand and intimate, mysterious and peaceful. It is a painting that can be appreciated on many levels, from its sheer beauty to its deeper meaning about the workings of the city at night.

Which is human and which is AI? How can you tell? What’s the difference? The next post will explain.