AI Writing

Drawing on their knowledge of expected climate futures students worked with ChatGPT to create the cli-fi short stories published on this website. The project assignment included writing a diversity of stories, picking the best one, working more extensively with that story, working with an AI image program to create a corresponding image, and writing an analysis of the stories and the process of writing with ChatGPT. With each of their stories and throughout this site students also experimented with AI generated art from sites suggested in the project assignment.      

The project represents an experiment in thinking about how to combine meaningful use of generative artificial intelligence with teaching and writing. And there was a certain appropriateness to using AI technologies to help imagine the future. Though we may also be able to use AI to reduce greenhouse gasses, doing so sufficiently to avoid worst case warming scenarios will require human intelligence, political will, overcoming vested interests, and expanding global cooperation.

Comments from students about ChatGPT:

 Camryn Truex: I personally always have been very interested in AI, I think it can be used for good, and it can be unfortunately used to hurt people. One thing I think it can be extremely useful for is predicting based on circumstances. This was a main reason it was so helpful at this assignment. However, it is a language tool, and human interaction influences each and every response. It may get its source from somewhere not credible, but it can’t even decipher that. While chat gpt specifically has limitations- set by humans, and explicitly states it may be wrong at times, it is a very basic level of AI.

Donavin Harte: This writing project was one of the most interesting ones I’ve worked on. Using ChatGPT as a tool was quite amazing. I was very impressed how well of a story a machine could pump out in a few seconds from a prompt as short as two sentences. With that being said, the initial stories needed to be worked on. ChatGPT likes to give very generalized ideas without much context or in-depth detail even if you give it a longer prompt. It also likes to use the same words, phrases, and paragraph structure multiple times throughout one story. This makes for a bad reading experience and confuses a reader. However, you can sit and develop the story more. You can tell it to add more detail and description, or to change words, or to change anything about the story you’d like to. On the other hand, you could just take that initial story and then change what you don’t like about it yourself. I feel that this was the easiest way to develop a story that you may have in your head. ChatGPT generates the story as a sort-of outline and then you can make it how your imagination wants it to be and fine tune any issues that may have risen.

Kaely CooperFor many of my ideas, I would have an entire story idea mapped out in my head, and it can be difficult to describe that much of a story into a prompt for ChatGBT to write. Some of the stories turned out completely different than they appeared in my head, but I really enjoyed reading what the AI could come up with. I wanted to embrace the AI aspect of this assignment, rather than mapping out the exact story that I myself had come up with. I really enjoyed this writing experience.

Savannah Wirth:I had a lot of fun playing with ChatGPT for the Cli-Fi stories. I hadn’t worked with AI much before this assignment, so it was pretty new to me. At first I was very impressed with how quickly it could spit out a response and a story even when I gave it so little to work with. I could give it a one sentence prompt and it would give me a whole 1-2 pages of story. It’s vocabulary is impressive, although it used some words that didn’t seem relevant in culture today. For example, in my story “Ripples of Change”, when talking about the dog saving the children, the program originally wrote “Though Max succeeded in saving his young charges…” and the word ‘charges’ stood out to me as just being an odd choice of wording, so I changed the sentence to “Though Max succeeded in saving the children…”.

I found that just telling the program “The climate had warmed to 4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures” wasn’t enough for the program to give much climatic details. It knows generally that the climate will become more unstable and that more extreme weather events will occur, but if I wanted more detail consistent with the scientific predictions we have studied, I would have to prompt it with specifics.

Olivia Turner:This was my first time doing any sort of work with any AI, and my conclusion is it’s relatively user-friendly and simple to adjust to. What I found the most interesting when writing Cli-Fi stories, is the AI would default to a happy, positive ending unless prompted otherwise, not a negative thing of course! The quality of these stories was pretty good, though the engine did tend to get redundant and reuse content, even when you specifically told it to fix repetitive words and content. For my final story, I made sure to go through and edit repeated words, grammar errors, and fix parts that seemed unnecessary. I noticed a trend that I tended to like the stories that I used specific prompts in such as a specific place, animal, event, etc. Chat GPT also seemed to understand exactly what you were picturing if you were extremely specific as well, for example you could use adjectives in how the ambience of the setting is described. The way that it would automatically come up with happy endings for climate scenarios made me feel more optimistic despite my story’s ending being completely up for interpretation, I purposely made it very open ended to reflect all choices and possibilities.

Tommy Malkowski: While using AI I learned that the possibilities of what humans are capable of are endless. AI is just the beginning; soon there will be robots bringing our food to us, robots replacing doctors, and so on. I think that accepting the fact that this is our future will help everyone and it can most likely speed up the process. We already have a virtual reality where you can be in your living room and “teleport” yourself to Hogwarts and start fighting Voldemort. The world is constantly evolving, and it will never stop evolving, there will always be ways to improve.

Olivia McQueen: I wanted to generate stories that are set in the high degrees of global warming (4-6 degrees) with different plot lines that are set in different areas of the U.S. and at least one in another region of the world. Using different areas of the country and world I was curious to see how the effects of climate change differed according to ChatGBT. I thought that ChatGBT did a great job at generating a variation of story lines with different characters as well as being pretty correct about the effects of climate change on these specific areas for the degree of warming. I really enjoyed this project and the use of AI to create stories. It was my first time using any sort of AI that isn’t already on social media and I’m glad it was a good experience.  

Other resources for creative uses of generative AI in teaching:

Dr. Webb's AI and the Teaching of Writing and Thinking.

 8 Tips for Creative Writing using ChatGPT from Ed Tech Teacher.

5 Ways to Use ChatGPT from Lauren Bardwell. 

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