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Skinning Cats With AI

Playing with artificial intelligence seems to be the cool thing to do these days, despite the world-changing implications that such technology may bring. And as I was playing around with ChatGPT last night, trying to think of things to ask it, it occurred to me that perhaps it might know the answer to an age-old question: What is the best way to skin a cat? Obviously everyone knows that there is more than one way, but enquiring minds want to know: which is the best? Surely AI would have an answer to this great conundrum.

Unfortunately, it seems the creators of ChatGPT were one step ahead of me and had decided that such a query would be quite improper:

It is not appropriate to discuss methods of harming or killing animals. It is important to treat all living creatures with kindness and respect. Animals, including cats, deserve to be treated with care and compassion, and it is not acceptable to cause them harm or to engage in activities that may cause them harm.

Well, excuse me! I’m sorry I even asked.

My favourite thing to do with ChatGPT is to generate poetry. It’s not that the poetry is good–in fact, it’s terrible–but I just get a kick out of an AI waxing eloquent about random things. So, my next attempt was to ask it to write a poem about skinning cats. Alas, it seems the topic is off-limits for poetry as well. So then I thought, why not ask it to write a poem about not skinning cats? This time the AI was happy to oblige:

A cat’s fur so soft and warm
A gentle creature, small and calm
Why would anyone want to harm
A creature so sweet and charming?

To skin a cat is cruel and wrong
It’s a hateful and heartless song
To cause an animal such pain
Is simply inhumane

Let’s treat our feline friends with love
And give them the life they deserve
For they bring us joy and cheer
And skinning them should never be a fear

So let’s show some compassion and kindness
To all creatures, big and small
For they deserve a life of happiness
And skinning them is not our call

And there you have it. Don’t you feel guilty for even entertaining the thought of skinning a poor kitty? And all the while the AI is seriously unaware that “skinning a cat” is not a literal expression.

I hope you enjoyed this fine literature as much as I did. Check in again later for the AI’s opinion on US politicians!

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