Fun With Artificial Intelligence

Frank S. Robinson
5 min readMar 22, 2024

March 22, 2024

The core shtick of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is writing, and it’s widely taking that over from humans. This was part of the story with the recent Hollywood writers strike. Amazon now limits how many books an author can post per day. Because people are using AI to write them — producing books in seconds.

I fancy myself a writer. Mulling a blog post about Sudan’s civil war, I thought it might be fun to get something AI-written. ChatGPT duly produced a well-written essay that seemingly reflected a “rational optimist” stance. A pollyannish take on Sudan that isn’t my view at all. So I’m not using it on my blog, but you can read it here:

Meantime, discussing this with my wife (an AI aficionado), and mentioning that I’d previously blogged about Sudan back in 2010*, she asked ChatGPT to critique what I’d written. The result is quite fascinating:

“Analyzing the writing style of the provided essay reveals several notable characteristics in terms of tone, reading level, diction, and sentence structure:

“The essay combines a critical tone with an informative approach. The writer critiques the Sudanese regime and international attitudes while providing historical context and political analysis. The use of phrases like “a really rough customer” and “the Bashir gang” alongside serious discussion of international diplomacy and crimes against humanity creates a tone that is both engaging and serious.

“The tone veers into sarcasm, especially with descriptions like “the beautiful and charming Omar Al-Bashir” and the expression of shock in “shocked, shocked,” suggesting a cynical view of political realities and hypocrisy.

“The essay likely targets a well-educated audience familiar with international affairs, political analysis, and historical context. The vocabulary (“indictment,” “repression,” “independence referendum”) and references (e.g., Noam Chomsky, John F. Kennedy) suggest a reading level suitable for college-educated readers or those with a strong interest in politics and history.

“The essay uses a mix of formal and informal language. Formal terms and phrases related to politics and international relations are juxtaposed with colloquial expressions and sarcasm. This blend of diction helps maintain reader interest and emphasizes the author’s personal perspective.

“The choice of words carries strong connotations that evoke emotional responses. Describing Omar Al-Bashir as “a really rough customer” and using the term “gang” to describe his regime are examples where the diction is used to shape the reader’s perception.

“The essay features a variety of sentence structures, from simple and straightforward sentences to more complex and compound sentences that convey nuanced arguments or detailed historical insights. This variety aids readability and helps to keep the reader engaged.

“The use of rhetorical questions and direct quotations (e.g., John F. Kennedy’s quote) enhances the argumentative impact of the essay. It engages readers by prompting them to consider the moral and ethical dimensions of the discussed issues.

“In summary, the essay’s style is characterized by its engaging tone that balances critical analysis with sarcasm, an advanced reading level that assumes a degree of prior knowledge from its audience, a mix of formal and informal diction that adds personality and emphasis, and varied sentence structures that maintain interest and facilitate complex discussions.”

Though this does have some giveaways that it’s AI-done, still in other ways it’s jarring that it wasn’t written by a human.

I also write my coin auction catalogs, briefly describing the items and their quality. Trying to inject occasional humor, I thought to have one entry written by ChatGPT. Given just my barebones listing, it went to town! —

“BAKTRIA, This captivating Drachm from the reign of Apollodotos II showcases the artistic prowess of the Bactrian mint, circa 110–80 BC. The obverse features a striking diademed head facing right, reminiscent of classical Greek numismatic traditions, while the reverse portrays Athena standing left, holding a spear and resting her hand on a shield. Exceptionally Fine (EF), centered with full legends, this specimen exhibits an unusually high level of detail and preservation. The surfaces gleam with bright metal, enhancing the aesthetic appeal and ensuring its status as a standout piece in any collection.

“Noteworthy is the strong, detailed portrait of Apollodotos II, a testament to the skill of the ancient craftsmen. It is rare to encounter such exceptional quality in coins of this era, making this offering particularly desirable to discerning collectors. A Choice EF/VF specimen realized an impressive $351 on a $386 bid in our last auction, highlighting the enduring demand for coins of this caliber. Don’t miss the opportunity to add this superb Drachm from Bactria’s rich numismatic heritage to your collection. Bid now to secure this remarkable piece of history.”**

Note that some details, like the spear and shield, did not come from me; ChatGPT found them elsewhere. And the loquacious puffery resembles not my terse style but some big-time catalogs, notably those of Heritage Auctions. Seems ChatGPT is an aficionado of those sales. Or is it used by Heritage to write its catalogs?

* Here’s a link:

**Here’s the catalog: