As campus roars back to life, sunbaked and unmotivated students return to the dreaded deluge of bMail notifications. With “Assignment Posted” subject lines nestled between CALPIRG and NYT spam mail, here are five bothersome discussion posts that, without fail, made me say, “As an AI language model…” 

  1. Relate one event from your summer to this week’s readings.

No chance. Might as well have typed “please open ChatGPT and bullshit this one,” Professor. I can forgive the first mistake — assuming I’d have something interesting to share from the summer — but what possessed you to believe I’ve done this week’s readings? What, is there a quiz tomorrow? If there is, it better be remote. I already have ChatGPT ready to “describe an interesting summer anecdote that makes me seem cool and aloof, but also approachable. Now pretend I’m Ryan Gosling.”

 2. What was one time you faced a challenge?

Take a wild guess — right now. I’m trying to monitor my Trader Joe’s frozen pizza while it’s on the oven rack, so that’s pretty much taking all my available brainpower. And if that wasn’t bad enough, ChatGPT doesn’t understand what you mean by “faced a challenge.” Each time I input the question, it spits back out: “As an AI language model, I am incapable of synthesizing a significant personal obstacle.” Newsflash, asshole: so am I! 

3. Bourdieu mentions “social capital.” Define three instances of social capital in your life. 

I did this reading. Honestly, I should just be able to answer this question on my own without leaning on ChatGPT. At the same time, Ajay just texted me about going to Thai Temple this weekend, so I should be diverting all available brain power to that. Did you know that for $25, you and a friend can order every item on their vegetarian menu? It’s preposterous. Maybe that’s a form of social capital? Beats me, since ChatGPT is stuck oscillating between error messages and “the capital of SoCal is Los Angeles.” What? Has my computer not read Bourdieu?

4. Describe the tension between stereotypical readings of Adam Smith and more recent left-leaning interpretations. 

Boooooooooooooooring. The words “plug and chug” are insufficient to describe the degree to which this is getting fed to ChatGPT. The sad thing is that not even Terminator-esque sentience could elevate this prompt to palatable. But you know what it can do? Check this out — type “What’s the longest six-letter word?” and it spits out: “Glimps is one of the longest of common six-letter words in modern English.” The fuck is a glimps? 

5. Please type your full name into this box to verify that you are not cheating. 

Whatever at this point. I don’t even care. My name is ChatGPT. Hell, at this point it deserves the credit for this class since it gave all the answers. Even if I did write a litany of questions — far exceeding the word count required by any one assignment — just trying to guide ChatGPT to general coherence. But at the same time, I’m going to Thai Temple it up tomorrow. So, really, it’s a wash. 

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