Writer and actor Nathaniel J Hall wonders if his skills and talents will soon be replaced by the power of AI.
It’s 9am on Sunday morning and a notification pings on my phone. ‘Gay London Life Article due tomorrow.’ FFS. Today’s plan was to lie in bed doom-scrolling Twitter and anxiously ruminating about the impending end of the world before my weekly nihilistic wank listening to Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs on Radio 2 (my favourite Sunday morning pastime). Now I’ve got to get up and write six hundred words to entertain you motley lot. It’s a difficult cross to bear, but I do it with grace and humility.
As if it isn’t hard enough simply existing as the sardonic and witty human you all know and love, each month I have to sit at my computer and rustle up a page- worth of intelligent and insightful content for all of London to ignore on your sex- craved page-flick to the advert for the ElectraStim (I experimented with a 9-volt battery once, not for me dears, but you crack on).
Ah, well, at least I’m already past the hundred-word mark with this introduction. “Why don’t you just use ChatGPT to write something for you?” my boyfriend asks from the comfort of the bed I’ve been so cruelly ripped from. I clutch my pearls (and not the ones I was hoping to be wearing this morning) and quickly admonish him. “I am an award-winning Manchester-based writer adored for his monthly musings in London’s premiere gay scene publication.’ He flicks me a look. “OK, let’s give it a go,” I concede. And if I’m honest, I’m curious to see what all the fuss about AI is and whether I’ll be out of a job by this time next year as the naysayers suggest.
As we’re balls-deep in choosing new tiles for the kitchen this weekend, I suggest that it writes me an article about queer interior design in the style of Nathaniel J Hall. No luck. It appears ChatGPT has a conscience (unlike me this morning) and can’t write in the style of another writer. We try again, taking my name out of the equation. ‘Queer Interior Design: Where Flair Meets Fabulous.’ Points for the alliteration, but I’m sorry, I’m pretty sure ‘flair’ met ‘fabulous’ a long time ago. 5/10. ‘The Art of Unapologetic Expression… remember when it comes to queer décor, there’s no such thing as too much!’
Aha! Take that Mrs Hinch! I’m on board with this one, maximalism reigns supreme in this household. 9/10. ‘Let Colours Speak Louder Than Words.’ I wasn’t aware we were all previously decorating our houses with words babes, but OK. 3/10. ‘Glamorous Glamour Everywhere… Glitter, Sparkle, and shimmer.’ OK, I’m out. I want advice on how to furnish my living room, not the stage at The Admiral. 1/10. “At least you know your job as a writer is safe,” my boyfriend remarks. Bored of AI-inspired interior design chat, we experiment to see if ChatGPT can help us in other areas of our lives.
A snazzy name for his new LGBTQ+ counselling business. ‘Rainbow Reflections.’ Alliterative, but predictable. 3/10. ‘InclusiCare.’ Sounds like the place my nan went to die. 2/10.
‘EmpowerED LGBT+ Therapy.’ Confusing use of emboldened emphasis. 1/10. How about a brand-new name for my LGBTQ+ theatre company? ‘InclusiPlay Productions.’ Enough with the random conjunctions already. 2/10. ‘LiberationLanes.’ Sounds like a bowling alley. 1/10.
‘EmoweredED Dramatics.’ OK, now you’re just trolling us…
By this point, it’s crystal clear I’m going to have to write the article myself, but at least we’ve discovered that AI has yet to master the artistry and wit of a gay writer. Queers 1, AI nil. In a last-ditch attempt to see if ChatGPT can prove itself of any use to the modern gay world, I ask it to write a scene breakdown for a gay porno.”I’m sorry, I’m unable to write explicit content.’ If the doom-mongers are to be believed, the future of AI is bleak. And with algorithms as puritanical as that, I’m inclined to agree.
Folllow and find Nathaniel. nathanieljhall.co.uk/ @nathanieljhall