NewsPub Notes

This Is What Happens When AI Tries to Write ‘Pub Notes’

Can AI write better than this guy and drink less coffee?

I, Pete McCommons, am so far behind the curve on artificial intelligence that it is far too late now for me to do a spoof of a supposed Pub Notes column written by AI. I was talking to John O’Looney about AI the other day, and told him I wouldn’t even know how to go about getting a Pub Notes written by AI. The next thing I know, John has sent me the column below, written by the artificial intelligence tool ChatGTP-4.

John explained, “My prompt: The editor of the Athens newspaper, the Flagpole, writes a column called Pub Notes. Please create a new Pub Notes column based on the style of the author of the column.” John included citations for some previous Pub Notes columns.

ChatGTP-4 responded: “Certainly! Drawing inspiration from the style of Pete McCommons, the author of the Pub Notes column in the Flagpole, here’s a new entry that could fit right in.”

Athens’ Unseen Heroes: The Quiet Pillars of Our Community

As the summer sun begins to cast longer shadows over our beloved Athens, it’s not just the heat that’s rising—it’s the spirit of our town, too. In the midst of bustling streets and the evergreen canopy of North Georgia, there are stories waiting at every corner, tales that don’t make the headlines but are the true heartbeat of this place we call home.

Take, for instance, the local barista who remembers not just your order, but your dog’s name and the fact that you prefer your coffee with a hint of cinnamon. Or the librarian who has seen generations of families come through, offering a smile and a recommendation that’s always spot on. These are the unsung heroes, the fabric of our daily lives that often goes unnoticed.

In a world that’s increasingly digital, where tweets can dictate the news cycle and online personas garner more attention than flesh-and-blood neighbors, it’s these human connections that keep us grounded. They remind us that, despite the noise, the real stories are happening right here, in the quiet exchanges between people who share a community.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of these interactions, to take for granted the stability they provide. But just like the ancient oaks that line our streets, these individuals offer us shade and solace, a reminder of the enduring strength of human kindness.

So next time you’re out and about in our little corner of the world, take a moment to appreciate these pillars of our community. It’s their steady presence that helps make Athens the unique tapestry it is—a blend of history, culture and, most importantly, people.

Remember, it’s not the grand gestures that always make the most significant impact. Sometimes, it’s the quiet “hello” from the neighbor, the extra scoop of ice cream on a hot day, or the knowing nod from across the room that says, “I see you, and you matter.”

Here’s to the quiet pillars of Athens—the everyday heroes whose stories might not make the front page, but whose contributions are the foundation of our shared narrative.

ChatGTP-4 concludes, “I hope this captures the essence of the Pub Notes column and resonates with the readers of the Flagpole.”

John adds, “This column could probably be improved with a more detailed prompt. Maybe something about an event in Pete’s childhood or a story about an eccentric from Greensboro, etc. Only Pete could provide such an improved prompt. Although you could ask the AI to make up some stories… Isn’t that how Pete does it?”

Pete laments: The above Pub Notes incorporates everything I try to avoid in writing this column—bland, treacly clichés and generic observations straight out of Readers Digest’s greatest heartwarming stories. After having read it, I either have to stop writing Pub Notes forever, or I have to assume that John didn’t give ChatGTP-4 enough to go on, or I must conclude that AI isn’t yet ready to tackle the sophisticated yet folksy nuances of Pub Notes, nor its hard-hitting dissections of local politics and culture delivered with sly wit and righteous indignation, but always with a view toward finding creative solutions to make things better.

Listen: I know in my heart that 90% of Flagpole readers are outraged at this artificial attempt to capture the style and substance of this “quiet pillar of our community,” written irregularly by an “unsung hero.” But I want to hear from the 10% of readers with whom ChatGTP-4’s Pub Notes “resonates.” Lay it on. Tell me my writing is even blander than ChatGTP-4’s. I can take it, even if I will be tempted to believe your assessment is fake.