Nick Cave, the The Bad Seeds frontman, whose songs are tinged with a healthy dose of death, desperate love and religion, isn’t a fan of ChatGPT’s lyrical ambitions. The popular AI bot has received both praise and concerns for its ability to generate nuanced, conversational text responses in simple, clear sentences. Since its November launch by the OpenAI artificial intelligence lab, ChatGPT has written everything from sitcom scripts to literary essays and, now, quite compelling rock songs.
This has left people concerned about the ramifications for industries across the creative spectrum, and one of those people is Cave himself. in his last The Red Hand Archives newsletter, Cave addressed the topic of AI-generated music. Responding to a fan who had submitted a song that ChatGPT had generated “in the style of Nick Cave,” the singer and an unequivocal response to the bot: “The apocalypse is on the way,” he wrote.
The song itself was somewhat compelling: “I’m the sinner, I’m the saint/I’m the dark, I’m the light/I’m the hunter, I’m the prey/I’m the devil, I’m the savior,” it read. The chorus. But as the singer pointed out, the humanity of a human-derived work was lost.
“What ChatGPT is, in this case, is replication as a parody,” Cave wrote. “Maybe in time I could create a song that, on the surface, is indistinguishable from the original, but it will always be a replica, a kind of burlesque… Songs arise from suffering, which means they are based on the complex human struggle internal creation and, well, as far as I know, the algorithms don’t feel. The data does not suffer. ChatGPT does not have an inner being, has not been anywhere, has not endured anything, has not had the audacity to go beyond its limitations, and therefore does not have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, since it does not it has limitations to transcend.”
He continued: “Mark, thanks for the song, but with all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human.”
While the multi-talented ChatGPT has been described as “stochastic parrots” trained on statistical regularities as opposed to, as Cave puts it, “human expertise,” the technology is still in its early stages. Still, as software evolves, many artists have criticized AI’s ability to generate content based on copyrighted works, and as the Nick Cave-esque song illustrates, it’s already happening.
While Cave noted that he didn’t care much for the IA-penned song, he pointed to a line that spoke to him. “’I have hellfire in my eyes’ — says the song ‘Nick Cave style,’ and that’s true,” he wrote. “I have hellfire in my eyes, and it’s ChatGPT.”