17 January 2023

Nick Cave says ChatGPT and AI songwriting is “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”

The singer-songwriter shared his thoughts on a ChatGPT song written in the style of himself.

Nick Cave has shared his opinion on ChatGPT and songwriting using artificial intelligence, and it’s safe to say he’s not at all impressed.

The Bad Seeds singer addressed what appears to be growing interest in the chatbot service that uses AI to generate human-like text at the request of the user.

He revealed on his blog, The Red Hand Files, that he’s received numerous submissions from his fans of song lyrics written “in the style of Nick Cave” on ChatGPT. And the singer wasn’t inspired by the results.

Responding to a fan named Mark who’d sent him lyrics to an algorithmically generated song, Cave wrote that “with all the love and respect in the world”, the track is “bullshit” and “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”.

The lyrics read: “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 saviour.”

Cave wrote in his response: “Since its launch in November last year, many people, most buzzing with a kind of algorithmic awe, have sent me songs ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ created by ChatGPT. There have been dozens of them. Suffice to say, I do not feel the same enthusiasm around this technology. I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI – that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster.”

He continued: “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.”

“ChatGPT’s melancholy role is that it is destined to imitate and can never have an authentic human experience, no matter how devalued and inconsequential the human experience may in time become.”

He finished the letter by using some of the AI lyrics to summarise his thoughts. “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, and, well, I don’t much like it – although, hang on!, rereading it, there is a line in there that speaks to me – ‘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. I have got the fire of hell in my eyes – and it’s ChatGPT. ”

Cave’s previous studio album with the Bad Seeds, Ghosteen, came out in 2019. He recently gave an update on the new album, writing: “This is both good news and bad news. Good news, because who doesn’t want a new Bad Seeds record? Bad news because I’ve got to write the bloody thing.”

  • Writer Chris Saunders
  • Banner Image Credit Trafalgar Releasing

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