Neal Stephenson Says AI-Generated ChatGPT Is ‘Simply Not Interesting’

The author, who coined the term "metaverse" in his science-fiction novel “Snow Crash,” says the algorithm-based tool doesn't resonate the way a book written by a real person does.

AccessTimeIconMar 3, 2023 at 7:06 p.m. UTC

Neal Stephenson, author of the science-fiction classic novel “Snow Crash” where he coined the term “metaverse” and gave new meaning to the word “avatar,” sees artificial intelligence in general, and ChatGPT in particular, as underwhelming.

“I think it depends on how it’s used,” Stephenson told CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” on Friday. “What we’ve tended to see is that it's used in creative applications where I don’t think it’s at all interesting.”

Stephenson said that with a painting or book, “what you’re doing is having a kind of communion with the artist who made thousands of little micro decisions in the course of creating that work of art or writing that book.”

A decision that is generated by an algorithm, “that’s simply not interesting,” he said.

Whether an AI-generated bot could have written “Snow Crash,” Stephenson said, “well, maybe one did.” But if that were the case, he added, a person would be reading only the output of an algorithm, “and if that’s interesting to you, then fine.”

“Personally, I know a lot of writers who are putting a lot of effort into creating their own original works, and I’d rather support them and hear what they have to say than just look at the output of an algorithm,” he said.

CoinDesk - Unknown
Sword One from "Snow Crash" (Sotheby's)

ChatGPT is an AI-powered chatbot that was released in November and has gained notoriety.

Stephenson has placed different parts of “Snow Crash” on auction at Sotheby's, an during the same segment on "First Mover," Cassandra Hatton, head of sales at Sotheby's, said the auction reflects a “transitional thing” that takes a look at items “that were created in an analog world,” but that were “predicting the future of the digital world.”

The auction, which went live on Sotheby’s metaverse NFT platform on Feb. 27, includes a 3D replica of the sword used by the novel’s protagonist, Hiro, alongside a non-fungible token and a manuscript of the book that Stephenson wrote in 1991.

Stephenson’s manuscript has a current bidding price of $35,000 with four bids, while the replica sword, with two bids, was priced at $55,000.

CoinDesk - Unknown
The original manuscript for "Snow Crash" (Sotheby's)


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Fran is CoinDesk's TV writer and reporter.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.