We Humans Had a Good Run

This is a talk written by artificial intelligence; specifically, OpenAI’s new, much more developed GPT-3 that just dropped based on the prompt “Write an LDS talk about overcoming adversity” (it’s shorter, but that’s just because I set the word limit relatively low). 

Good morning brothers and sisters. I am so glad to be here with you today. I’m sure we have all faced adversity in our lives. Whether it be a difficult trial, a personal challenge, or an unexpected obstacle, we all have our own stories of hardship and struggle. But today I want to talk about how we can rise above these difficulties and find peace and joy even in the midst of our struggles. The Bible tells us in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” These verses remind us that even when we face trials and tribulations, we can choose to embrace them as part of our journey and trust that they are leading us to a better place. In the Book of Mormon, we find an example of how to overcome adversity. In the story of Alma and the sons of Mosiah, we read how these young men were able to turn away from their sins and find strength in the Lord despite the many challenges they faced. They found that by relying on the Lord, they had the power to overcome any obstacle. We too can find strength in the Lord no matter our situation. We can turn to Him in times of need and find peace and comfort. We can trust in His plan for us and rely on His strength to carry us through our trials. We can also find support and encouragement from our family, friends, and fellow church members. Brothers and sisters, no matter what difficulties we face, we can take comfort in the fact that the Lord is with us and will help us find peace and joy even in the midst of adversity. May we all remember this today and choose to turn to Him in times of need. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Some initial thoughts (this is the humanoid); we often talk about how talks in church can become rote or cliche-leaden. The new world of AI-generated content will create a sort of “Turing Test,” where some of the more cliche-filled talks will be indistinguishable from whatever you could generate with AI. Hopefully this will eventually push people to put a little more thought into their content–or people will increasingly just produce a talk or lesson right before church because they forgot about it until a few moments before–time will tell.

11 comments for “We Humans Had a Good Run

  1. You can tell this talk isn’t real because it doesn’t start out by describing what happened when the second counselor called on Tuesday, and how the speaker procrastinated until Saturday night and how nervous they feel right now.

    I’m kind of half serious about this. AI is great at generating text, but really bad at taking into account the other mind or minds who hear or read the text.

  2. I can only hope some people use AI to skip the story about being asked to speak and also to incorporate two scripture references into their talk.

  3. @Jack: Yes, I also did one where it wrote a “General Conference talk like David Bednar” and it was uncannily similar. Friends friends of mine have had it write fairly powerful poetry, accurate synopses of dense philosophical topics, etc. Some people have found little weird oddities but I haven’t run into one yet.

  4. My thought was it sounds like a well spoken youth giving a talk that sounds like an adult would give. It was missing some depth of personal experience. Empty if I was feeling harsh, or really impressive at trying to say the right things of I was trying to be generous.

  5. We should just have AI talks in church for now on. Easier on everyone with the same outcome. Another reason to have more music and less speaking in our worship services. Actually we mormons suck at “worship” IMO.

    I think Bednar is AI. Those soulless eyes, that “I know and you dont” demeaner in his talks, he cant be human….

  6. Hmmm…”the story of Alma and the sons of Mosiah” as an example of how to overcome adversity? Seems like it has confused overcoming adversity with overcoming sin. Of course it really doesn’t have any clue about either–it’s just following the word usage patterns in its training data–but in this case the words used for two distinct concepts overlap enough that it goes back and forth between the two pretty much incoherently.

  7. @ RLD: You might be right. I read that as referring to the adversity they experienced after converting, but that might be a case of me reading into it what I thought it was talking about, and it actually did just miss the target.

    @ REC911: It isn’t the same outcome because the talks are in fact different from each other when you ask the same question in a different session, so there’s some variation involved.

    @ Sute: I agree, but we’ve all heard this talk. I do think that as this stuff becomes more mainstream the personal touch and experiences will become more important.

  8. We’ve been playing with ChatGPT. It’s a very impressive reflection of what you can find online. It was good at solving a simple quadratic equation, but flubbed a trigonometric integral by providing a bunch of steps that led nowhere. It provided me a specific square root of 97 which was wrong after the first couple digits. When asked for helping code a few simple things in Python it was thorough and looked more or less correct. It writes better than most people (though not better than most writers), but it doesn’t know when it is wrong and tends to the generic (like the above talk)

    It is hugely impressive and I imagine it will fundamentally alter parts of people’s work flow and how we think about education.

  9. @Stephen C: I thought about that, but the little blurb at the end of “the story of Alma and the sons of Mosiah” about how they were persecuted after their conversion says nothing about how they overcame that adversity. I think anyone who wanted to use that part of the story in a talk would have to remind people it was there. Both Alma and the sons of Mosiah have good stories about overcoming adversity, but at that point they’re separate stories. So no, I’m not giving GPT-3 credit for that one.

    @Frank McIntyre: I wouldn’t hold your breath for AI writing to fundamentally alter education. I’ve been watching my son’s last remaining love of math get beat out of him by second semester college calculus (i.e. memorize a million ways to integrate a function) despite the fact that Wolfram Alpha has been able to do all that for you for years. It’s still essentially the same course I took over 40 years ago (and also hated).

  10. RLD — I’m thinking more along the lines of how many middling middle school and high school kids will let GPT do the writing for them on short assignments and book reports, which will lend itself to a change in how those things get taught.

    But I hear you about calc 2’s weird obsession with integrating weird shapes. There is a maturity gain to thinking through lots of problems, but it would be nice if students could get that experience on more interesting problems.

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