ChatGPT for Text

I bet you’ve noticed the buzz about new apps that use artificial intelligence and their potential impacts, especially Chat GPT, which creates works of writing based on prompts. The prompts include the topic and the style – fun, right?
But will we start to see AI versions of garden-writing? It’s worth a test.  I asked it to write about tropical plants in Cockney slang. The result was pretty generic except for the assertion that “In Cockney slang, taking care of tropical plants is known as ‘looking after greenhouse nippers.'”‘

When prompted by “How to water a garden in street slang” the result included “H20 to hydrate the greenery, fam.”

“How to plant a tree in the style of hiphop” yielded standard tree-planting instructions but also “Give the tree some love and positive vibes, just like a rap lyric” and “Represent the tree with rhymes and lyrics, spreading its message.” Pretty lame.

My prompts for “How to prune hydrangea” and “How to design a townhouse garden” produced results we see everywhere – generic, not wrong. Too boring to include here.

I did enjoy the result for “How to water houseplants in the style of Shakespeare,” which used “thy” repeatedly – “Fill they watering can” – but added some philosophical tips I enjoyed: “Tend to them with love, for they bring beauty to thy home with ease” and “Thus shall thy plants prosper and grow, fair and strong like the trees.”

And here’s “How to water houseplants in the style of Melville”:

  1. With a steady hand, grasp thy watering vessel.
  2. Pour a measured amount, as if to nourish the earth’s treasure.
  3. Let the water flow deep, penetrating the soil with leisure.
  4. Give time for the excess to depart, lest it remain and spoil.
  5. Be mindful of the frequency, for over-watering is a dangerous foil.
  6. Observe the leaves, if they droop, then water with all thy power.
  7. Provide them light and air, for these are their daily dower.
  8. Tend to them with care, for they bring a touch of nature’s bower.
  9. And thus, with patience and love, thy houseplants shall flourish hour by hour.

Everyone is testing Chat GPT, including the very literate, hard-to-please hosts of Slate Culture Gabfest. In this episode, they were surprisingly positive in their review of the app, calling it “capable of writing a decently cogent college-style essay.” One host prompted it to write a five-paragraph essay about a particular Wordsworth poem and declared that the result would deserve a B+ or A- in a high school or freshman class in college class.  Another prompt – to compare two philosophers – produced “a quality paper for a sophomore at a top college.” This from a guy who’s taught English at top colleges.

Yikes! No wonder there are signs of panic over the app in academia.

On the downside, Slate’s film critic reported absurdly inaccurate statements about film history that produced by the app.

The podcasters concluded with praise for the app’s press-release-writing skills.  I tried that myself and hell, yeah, if I ever have to write another press release, I’m starting with Chat GPT’s version and tweaking it from there.

So will we see garden writing by Chat GPT? Oh, you bet. Content mills are already publishing articles generic and inaccurate enough for us to wonder if they were produced by artificial intelligence, and Chat GPT will save them money.

DALL-E for Photos

“DALL·E‘s website proclaims that it “can create original, realistic images and art from a text description. It can combine concepts, attributes, and styles.” And that may be underselling its abilities.

Here are some images it created in response to various gardening prompts.  Clockwise from upper left they were “koi in pond,” “lawn with clover and pony,” “black cat in garden with roses,” and “lantana in pot.” For each prompt the app creates four options, which can be altered within the program.

As a cat owner who sadly can’t show off cool photos of them in the garden because they’re indoors-only, this image of a cat that looks just like one of mine is giving me ideas.

So I prompted the app with more details about my cat family, using “a short-haired black cat and a long-haired black cat in a garden,” and these results are pretty darn close.

Bottom line, I’d assert that (almost) any of them would be preferable to having NO image to illustrate a gardening blog post. But feel free to disagree.

Wanna play with styles? Here are four responses to the prompt of “succulent plants in the style of Monet.”

And “rain garden line drawing.”

Just for fun I asked DALL-E to illustrate something that doesn’t exist – cactus growing in a meadow – and the results may tempt even a normally honest gardenblogger to try to fool her readers.  So look out!