ChatGPT Challenge – 04/20/2023 – Ruy Castro

The other day, by chance, the lawyer Pierpaolo Bottini heard someone reciting “Illusions of Life”, the famous poem by Francisco Otaviano —”Who passed through life in a white cloud / And in placid repose fell asleep…”—, and wanted to know better the poet. He consulted ChatGPT, which promptly replied: “Francisco Otaviano was a Brazilian politician and poet of the 19th century. Here is one of his poems”. And he sent Pierpaolo “Canção do Exílio”, by Gonçalves Dias: “My land has palm trees / Where the thrush sings…”.

Well, let’s not be grouchy. The infallible ChatGPT is not obliged to know everything. Even because, as a poet, Otaviano was not a Gonçalves Dias, nor even a Fagundes Varella. Remembering Fagundes Varella, Pierpaolo decided to check the poignant “Canticle of Calvary” on the ChatGPT: “You were in life the favorite dove / That over a sea of ​​anguish carried / The branch of hope. You were the star / That among the mists of winter sparkled…” For, instead, ChatGPT sent him an evangelical hymn entitled “Canticle of Calvary”. And not just one, but four gospel hymns with that title. Decidedly, ChatGPT is not from the literature.

I’ve already written here that if ChatGPT were to get involved in producing a biography, it would be able to ape an author’s style. And, yes, maybe generate guidelines with hundreds of questions and apply them to 200 sources of information. But who will determine these sources? The best ones are the ones that come to us suddenly, sometimes by chance. What about those who pretend to be difficult? And eye to eye with them, without which certain information is not extracted? And the discovery of lost documents in drawers?

A biography requires patience, some cleverness, luck and holes in the sole of the shoe. Can the algorithm do all this?

One day, maybe. But only after learning that the birds that chirp here don’t go through life in a white cloud and don’t chirp like they do there.

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