Chat GPT Horror Stories Show What a Useful Creative Tool It Can Be

Artists and creatives might be the best fit for AI as it currently works.

  • This week, AI has been generating horror stories to scare itself.
  • AI's unfinished, uninspired results are the perfect creative prompts for humans. 
  • AI is just another tool, albeit a very impressive one. 
Scary robots in sillhouette

Devrimb / Getty Images

Chat GPT has been writing horror stories this week, and some of the summaries sound great. It shows that AI could be an endless source of excellent writing prompts for artists, writers, and TV and movie makers.

One of the fundamentals of human creativity is copying. Copying, and transforming. Art students might sit on museum floors and sketch copies of paintings and sculptures. Musicians almost always learn to play other musicians' songs. Then, after internalizing what they have learned, they synthesize new paintings or songs, shaped by what they have learned. AI works exactly the same way, only without the creative human spark that brings transformation. So wouldn't it be the perfect artist sidekick?

"As someone who works in the AI industry, I can say that AI is more useful when used as a collaborator. AI technologies can be powerful tools that help humans in the creative process. For instance, they can help generate ideas and provide additional insights into situations that would otherwise require a human's expertise," Oliver Goodwin, founder and CEO of AI audio and video platform Synthesys told Lifewire via email.

Putting The 'AI' in 'Assistant'


Check out this Reddit thread titled "A two-sentence horror story scary to AI." It collects the results of Chat GPT-created horror stories, as prompted by a group of fans of the horror writer HP Lovecraft. The results are not particularly original, but they are all excellent prompts for any author setting out to write a horror story.

The news tends to focus on the finished products of these generative AI tools, even though the images are often a bit weird (AI, like humans, has trouble drawing hands), and the text is adequate, but never sparkling or engaging. But as a quick ideas generator, AI is incredible. You could use it to create story prompts for original works or to create episode ideas for long-running TV series. Songwriters could have it create verse and then cut up the text to rearrange it into new forms, like William S. Burroughs and David Bowie

Or you could simply ask it to come up with a list of period character names, or real-looking fake addresses for fictional purposes. 

"I believe that AI may be able to one day reach the capability of a 'collaborator'. One thing users need to keep in mind about ChatGPT is that even though it is a remarkable tool, its 'intelligence' only exists due to human engineering. In other words, how the creators program it has a major impact on ChatGPT's outputs," poet and author R. M. S. Thornton told Lifewire via email. 

Miles Off


Creative people respond well to prompts and limitations. If you are familiar with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, you will know that it was improvised by the collaborating musicians, and each song was recorded in one take. But if you read the back of the record sleeve, you'll see that Davis set out prompts for each song. For example, "All Blues," writes pianist Bill Evans in the album notes, "is a series of five scales, each to be played as long as the soloist wishes until he has completed the series."

From such a simple set of rules, Davis and his collaborators created an incredible improvisation, synthesized from their knowledge, skill, experience, reactions to each other, and of course from Davis' prompt itself.

"The difference with AI is that it doesn't have the true awareness to be cognizant of these limitations like a human creator is. Thus, it's creatively stunted within a certain box it can't escape," says Thornton. 

Instead of considering the user's written prompt as the beginning, and the AI's output as the result, we might instead consider the AI's creation as the prompt, and the human "output" as the result. In this way, it's really no different than any number of tools used to jolt the mind into a new creative direction, like Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies, a set of cards containing remarks and suggestions designed to free up the blocked mind. 

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