Nick Cave writes open letter about ChatGPT and AI in songwriting: “A grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”

Nick Cave has shared an open letter on ChatGPT alongside lyrics to a song which the AI engine created “‘in the style of Nick Cave.” The chorus of the song reads:

“I am the sinner, I am the saint
I am the darkness, I am the light
I am the hunter, I am the prey
I am the devil, I am the savior”

Writing on The Red Hand Files, Cave revealed that similar lyrics have been sent his way by fans before.

“Since its launch in November last year many people, most buzzing with a kind of algorithmic awe, have sent me songs ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ created by ChatGPT. There have been dozens of them. Suffice to say, I do not feel the same enthusiasm around this technology. I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI – that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster.”

Cave continues, “Songs arise out of suffering, by which I mean they are predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation and, well, as far as I know, algorithms don’t feel. Data doesn’t suffer. ChatGPT has no inner being, it has been nowhere, it has endured nothing, it has not had the audacity to reach beyond its limitations, and hence it doesn’t have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations from which to transcend. ChatGPT’s melancholy role is that it is destined to imitate and can never have an authentic human experience, no matter how devalued and inconsequential the human experience may in time become.”

Cave addresses the letter to Mark – the fan who sent him lyrics to the algorithmically-generated song. As he finishes the letter, Cave uses lyrics to summarise his own thoughts.

“Mark, thanks for the song, but with all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human, and, well, I don’t much like it — although, hang on!, rereading it, there is a line in there that speaks to me —

‘I’ve got the fire of hell in my eyes’

— says the song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’, and that’s kind of true. I have got the fire of hell in my eyes – and it’s ChatGPT.

Love, Nick”

Read the full letter here.

The news follows an update last week where Cave shared that his plan for 2023 is “to make a new record with the Bad Seeds.” The latest post on The Red Hand Files – a forum where the musician regularly answers questions from fans – sees the Ghosteen artist respond to the question: What are your plans for 2023?

The last album Cave released with the Bad Seeds was 2019’s Ghosteen. In 2021, Cave and frequent collaborator Warren Ellis surprise released the album Carnage. Last year saw the release of the documentary This Much I Know to be True – which focusses on Ellis and Cave’s creative relationship.

Read: Cinematographer Robbie Ryan on capturing Nick Cave alone at Alexandra Palace.