By John, 8 December, 2022

Fabrizio Ferri-Benedetti ( posted on Mastodon about how similar the output of ChatGPT is to certain types of technical writing:

The writing bits of my job are not that different from what #ChatGPT does: sometimes I can feel the predictive text popping in my mind while writing, remembering words I didn’t even know I remembered, and I repeat and reinforce certain patterns, especially when speaking in a non-primary language. It’s almost unconscious. What’s different, perhaps, it’s the twist and turns, the organic detours dictated by my fragile, oxygen-hungry brain and the needs of its emergent mind.

I have noticed the same thing when writing. Sometimes there is a part of the brain that is just churning out a template and there are a small handful of actual words or concepts I'm trying to get across. Every now and then I throw one into the paste as I smear it on the page.

So I've invented a new usage of the word paste:

Paste (n): (1) the output of a machine learning algorithm designed for human consumption, especially in the context of generated writing or generated art, or (2) the reflexive output of boilerplate writing

It comes from my realization the other day that ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion and all of these writing and generative art AIs are, on a mathematical level, ingesting all of human culture, grinding it up into a very small paste, and feeding it back to us. 

I've started using it in all sorts of contexts, like the other day when I was googling the top uses for horse chestnut wood, and the top results were all pages that were thick with ads, and the text on them was obviously generated with GPT-3. GPT-3: does good on individual paragraphs and can string a few together, get more than a bunch and the seams start to show; you can see where it loses its train of thought and repeats itself over time, etc. 

But yes, paste. When I google, and get AI thrown back at me, I say oh shit I've been pasted. When I'm churning out words on a deadline I notice myself slipping into generating paste instead of writing.