Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Feb. 7, 2023, 6:59 a.m. Humanist 36.383 - ChatGPT as author

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 383.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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    [1]    From: Tim Smithers <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.377: ChatGPT as co-author, with reference to David Bowie (98)

    [2]    From: Tanner Durant <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.380: ChatGPT as author (36)

        Date: 2023-02-06 20:30:24+00:00
        From: Tim Smithers <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.377: ChatGPT as co-author, with reference to David Bowie

Dear Jim,

I agree, use of ChatGPT would better be disclosed than labeled
a co-author.

A conversation about this is a class of PhDers I'm teaching
lead to the idea that a fairer transparency might be to list
all tools used in the production of written texts, including
the word processor (MS Word, for example), or text processing
(LaTeX, for example), the spell checking dictionaries used,
the grammar checker used, and any diagramming or image
processing tools used.

This kind of tool use transparency has been a common practice
in computer programming for a long time -- at least in corners
I've inhabited -- where it is/was important to know the
details of the hardware type, operating system, compiler,
software libraries, programming environment, etc (including
all version numbers) someone used to make a program.

Doing this for text making will seem strange at first, but it
might help people better understand that they are always tool
using in the writing they do, and that ChatGPT is, at best,
just another tool they may use.  And, knowing what tools have
been used opens a dimension along which to assess the writing:
students should be given credit for imaginative, creative,
humorous, ironic, use of ChatGPT, not prohibited from using
is.  (And quietly advised not to do silly things like name
ChatGPT as a co-author.)

Best regards,


> On 5 Feb 2023, at 07:42, Humanist <> wrote:
>              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 377.
>        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                Submit to:
>        Date: 2023-02-04 18:58:17+00:00
>        From: James Rovira <>
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.375: ChatGPT as author
> Thanks very much for the link, Tim -- I'd done a bit of reading in Bowie
> for David Bowie and Romanticism
> ( and even wrote about his
> cut-up methods there, but it had been a couple of years since I'd done this
> reading, so I didn't recall all of the details. It was an app developed by
> a Mac app developer presumably for use on an Apple computer. I remember it
> was fed a corpus somehow. But yes, those questions below are of interest to
> me as well. I haven't found any of those details myself either -- just the
> usual stuff in a number of interviews at the time and some years later. He
> may have given the name of the developer in other interviews. That would be
> the place to start, or with the Bowie estate.
> The important point to me re: this thread on ChatGPT "co-authorship" is
> that Bowie was using an app to generate random strings of texts *written by
> other persons* and still didn't feel the need to list co-authors. He just
> disclosed his process. I think that is where the ChatGPT "co-authorship"
> discussion needs to go. Anyone using it in published work should disclose
> that use as part of their methodology.
> Jim R
> On Sat, Feb 4, 2023 at 2:01 AM Humanist <> wrote:
>> But, I've not found details of this program: what it was
>> written in; how it did the random cutting; how the texts where
>> input -- by typing them in, I suppose?  ...  If anybody has
>> anything on this it'd be fund to know more.
> Dr. James Rovira <>
>   - *David Bowie and Romanticism
>   <>*,
>   Palgrave Macmillan, August 2022
>   - iTunes playlist
>   <
> romanticism/pl.u-aKlvFPEpYre>
>   for *David Bowie and Romanticism*
>   - *Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism
>   <
> Emancipation-of-Female-Will/Rovira/p/book/9781032069845>*,
>   Routledge, October 2022
>   - *Writing for College and Beyond
>   <
> beyond/paperback/product-24081792.html>*
>   (Lulu Press, May 2019, a first year writing textbook)

        Date: 2023-02-06 07:51:39+00:00
        From: Tanner Durant <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.380: ChatGPT as author

Responding to this quote from the discussion:

I regard any listing of ChatGPT as a coauthor as plainly
silly, to put it mildly and kindly, in part for the good
reasons others have posted here.  Nonetheless, with a mind to
being "more balanced," I decided I should try a more
pro-ChatGPT approach to an interaction on this matter, and
have a bit of fun with ChatGPT. (But please don't take my
parts of this interaction as reflecting what I truly think.
They don't!)

I chatted with Chat GPT for the first time this weekend asking for help with my
job search. I have 2 years of experience as a data analyst or data scientist,
but the recession and the tech layoffs have created a no man’s land where almost
no one with less than 5 years of experience is taken seriously. The super
experienced layoffs from Google and other FAANG/MAANG companies are even taking
the entry level data scientist jobs bc they can’t find anything else.

I found Chat GPT’s answers to my job search and financial anxiety questions to
be simplistic. It literally repeated the same answers word for word over and
over again, when asked how to survive a recession when you can’t find work. So
maybe I found a secret weakness in ChatGPT, compared to the robustness others
are reporting. But I think there are genuine holes/gaps/vacuums of social
coverage in capitalism, so maybe it’s not Chat GPT’s fault it couldn’t find a
creative answer to the recession.

I’ll have to try asking Chat GPT a fairer question. Also, for those interested,
I found an incredible AI robot this weekend called Midjourney. Just as powerful
as ChatGPT if not more. It creates a beautiful, accurate custom image based on
any image prompt you give it. Primarily accessed through the Discord app. You
type /imagine and then give it your desired image prompt. About as complicated
as you want. Use commas to separate clauses. Enjoy.

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