A couple of weeks ago, on my way to university, I encountered an old man on the tram who was asking for directions to Roeterseiland campus. What followed was an insane monologue about his vision for Germany and Russia and the gradual deterioration of my willpower to be on the same tram. Eventually, I left him at Leidseplein while he went on his merry way to collect funds for his ‘peace’ mission. Shaken from this conversation, I called a plethora of my friends, warned my colleagues at the education desk about the crazy elderly, and spoke to Anushka, our editor-in-chief. To make light of this absurd situation, we asked ChatGPT to write a poem about my disturbing encounter.
For those who are late to the party and have never heard of ChatGPT, it’s an artificial intelligence chatbot which responds to written prompts – as long as it complies with its ethical guidelines. While the conversation with the old man felt unethical to me, ChatGPT did come up with the poem below as well as the title to our Words to Start. With our current issue of the Spiegeloog focusing on ‘Vision’, having ChatGPT write a poem feels appropriate as I find AI chatbots belong to the category ‘futuristic vision’.
If I had not met the man on the tram, I would have asked ChatGPT to write a poem about a vision of a better future. One in which politicians take climate change seriously and in which (student) debt and fascists are a thing of the past. However, meeting the man on the tram made me realise that my vision of the future is not unanimously shared. There are people like him who want to overturn democracy and stir up hatred – if anything, more and more of these people seem to have crawled out of the woodwork in the past years. Fortunately, even AI chatbots like ChatGPT are able to tell that the vision of these people needs to be abolished. Thus, let’s raise our glasses to visions that actually improve the present and hopefully fewer encounters with fascists on the tram – please and thank you.
The Haunting Words of a Would-Be Dictator
In the dim and dreary streets of Amsterdam,
A man with a vision I chanced to meet,
His eyes alight with a bright, blazing flame,
A dream that left him light on his feet.
He spoke of a mission of peace and power,
To bring Germany to a new height,
Of a flight to Moscow and a fateful hour,
When he would meet Putin, face to face in sight.
For he was to be the new chancellor,
The one to lead his country to glory,
He’d follow in Hitler’s steps, no fear or falter,
And tell the world his inspiring story.
I stepped off the tram, my heart aflutter,
My mind in a haze, a jumbled mess,
For this man’s words made me shudder,
His vision, his plan, left me in distress.
He would be going to my university,
To ask for donations, to make his dream come true,
But I couldn’t bear to hear his words, so scary,
So I left, to clear my head, to think anew.
For in this world, we need no more dictators,
No more men who follow in Hitler’s lead,
We need peace, love, and equality, not haters,
And I hope this man’s vision, will soon recede.