I was thinking of an old series of free verse poems I wrote, titled Alma: a Successful Case Study. I gave GPT-4, which is a cutting-edge multimodal large language model (an AI), the following prompt:
Write a dialogue between a clueless therapist and a teenage girl who has recently discovered she is a vampire, and who is struggling with her urge for blood.
The following is the unedited response of the artificial intelligence.
Therapist: Hello, Sarah. It’s nice to meet you. I understand that you’ve been experiencing some struggles recently. Why don’t you tell me about them?
Sarah: Well, it’s going to sound crazy, but I’ve discovered that I’m, uh, a vampire. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. And I’m having a hard time dealing with my cravings for blood.
Therapist: (smiling) Oh, you have quite an imagination, Sarah. That’s an interesting way to express your feelings. But, let’s try to focus on the real issues that you’re facing. Perhaps there are some underlying emotions causing these thoughts?
Sarah: No, seriously. I am a vampire. I’ve even transformed into a bat and everything. And the cravings are getting unbearable. It’s not just my imagination.
Therapist: Alright, Sarah. I’m willing to hear you out. So, tell me more about these cravings. When did they start? How do they make you feel?
Sarah: They started about a month ago, after I was bitten by this strange-looking creature. The cravings make me feel anxious, like I’m losing control over myself. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but the urge for blood is so strong.
Therapist: It sounds like you’re experiencing intense emotions, and you’ve chosen to express them through this vampire metaphor. Perhaps these cravings represent a deeper issue in your life that you’re trying to confront?
Sarah: You’re not getting it. I am LITERALLY a vampire! I’ve been sneaking out at night to feed on animals, so I don’t hurt anyone. I need help controlling these urges!
Therapist: (pausing) Well, Sarah, I want to help you. Let’s approach this from a different angle. Instead of focusing on the vampire aspect, let’s talk about ways to cope with these feelings of anxiety and the need for control.
Sarah: (frustrated) Fine. But just remember, I’m trying to control my vampire instincts here.
Therapist: Okay, I understand. Have you tried any relaxation techniques or meditation to help with your anxiety?
Sarah: Yes, but they don’t seem to help much. The cravings are still there, and it’s getting harder to resist.
Therapist: I can see that you’re feeling quite overwhelmed by this. Let’s explore some other coping mechanisms. Have you considered engaging in physical activities, like running or martial arts, to help channel your energy and potentially curb your cravings?
Sarah: I’ve tried running, but it doesn’t seem to do much. I haven’t tried martial arts though. I guess I could give that a shot. But what if it doesn’t work?
Therapist: It’s important to remember that coping strategies might not have an immediate effect, and it could take some time to see results. If martial arts doesn’t work for you, we can explore other options. In the meantime, are there any safe outlets for your cravings that won’t harm others or yourself?
Sarah: Well, I’ve been feeding on animals like I mentioned before. But I feel guilty about it, and I’m scared of getting caught.
Therapist: I understand your concerns. Perhaps you can find a less harmful alternative to satisfy your cravings, such as trying a blood substitute or using a similar-tasting food to trick your mind. It’s worth experimenting with different options to see if any of them help.
Sarah: I guess I can try that. I just hope I find something that works before I lose control completely.
Therapist: I believe in your ability to find a solution, Sarah. Remember, I’m here to support you through this process. We can continue to explore coping strategies and alternatives together. And, if at any point you feel like you’re at risk of losing control, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or someone you trust for help.
Sarah: (fidgeting) Sorry, I’m just feeling really on edge right now. It’s like my whole body is screaming for blood. I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.
Therapist: I can see that this is a very challenging time for you, Sarah. Let’s try a grounding technique to help you regain some control over your emotions. Focus on your breathing and take slow, deep breaths. As you do this, try to become aware of your body and how it feels in this moment.
Sarah: (breathing deeply) Okay, I’m trying… but it’s still really hard.
Therapist: It’s okay, Sarah. Let’s keep going. Now, while you continue to breathe slowly, I want you to focus on your senses. Name five things you can see in the room, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Sarah: (still breathing deeply) Alright. I see a painting, a bookshelf, a clock, a plant, and a lamp. I can touch the chair, the rug, my clothes, and my hair. I can hear the ticking of the clock, your voice, and the hum of the air conditioner. I can smell the scent of the air freshener and the faint smell of coffee. And I can taste the mint from my gum.
Therapist: Good job, Sarah. By engaging your senses, you’re helping to ground yourself in the present moment. How are you feeling now?
Sarah: I still have the urge, but it feels a little less overwhelming for the moment.
Therapist: I’m glad to hear that. It’s important to have a variety of coping strategies to help you manage your emotions and urges. Remember, you can use grounding techniques like this one whenever you feel overwhelmed. We can also continue to explore other methods to help you gain control over your vampire instincts.
Sarah: Thank you for trying to understand and help me. I know it’s hard to believe, but I really appreciate it. I’ll keep using these techniques and hopefully find something that works.
Therapist: You’re welcome, Sarah. Remember that I’m here to support you, and we’ll work together to find the best strategies for your situation. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help or if you want to discuss anything further.
To me GPT-4 always sounds like it’s worried that it might offend somebody. Such people piss me off, even if they are artificial. But the AI can produce interesting output as long as you don’t push its boundaries.