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.
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.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish, a cryptocurrency exchange, which in turn is owned by Block.one, a firm with interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets including bitcoin and EOS. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.