Bill Sniffin: Even Out Here In Wyoming, Is This Robot The Scariest Thing We Have Ever Seen?

Bill Sniffin writes: “I have written thousands of articles about the Cowboy State. I asked ChatGPT a question about Wyoming’s future. Here is what it wrote.”

Bill Sniffin

June 10, 20236 min read

Collage Maker 10 Jun 2023 02 22 PM 6580
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Way out here in the Big Empty, where people are real and big-city technological dangers would seem somewhere off in the distance – it appears we are entering a scary time. Is this a time when humanity, itself, is in mortal danger?

While billions of dollars are being spent altering our economy in the name of climate change, a much more existential threat may be looming on the horizon.

World Tech Leaders Scared

The robots are coming, the robots are coming!

More than 1,000 world high-tech leaders, including Elon Musk of SpaceX and Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak have asked for a dramatic and immediate pause in worldwide development of Artificial  Intelligence (AI).

Since the debut of the AI chatbot ChatGPT last fall, more than 100 million subscribers have signed up. At the least, it will change the nature of work forever, and at its worst, it might just make human beings irrelevant.

Surely this is overreaction, right? We’ve all seen this movie before either with the Terminator’s Skynet or the Matrix series or with dozens of other books and movies. They all predict a time when robots will take over for humans.

So, I decided to do an experiment with this new AI program called ChatGPT.

While you should know that I am nervous about this, lawyer Ray Hunkins of Cheyenne thinks we might be over-reacting. Another lawyer Stan Cannon of Lander offered an observation as did Cowboy State Daily Columnist Rod Miller, also of Cheyenne. And finally, my futurist friend Jeff Wacker of Dallas summed it up. But first, let me share my experiences.

A “Wyoming” Test For ChatGPT

Now I can claim to be an expert on Wyoming. I have written thousands of articles about the Cowboy State and, so, I asked ChatGPT the following question: What will be the leading industry in Wyoming in 10 years?

Here is its answer (it took about 15 seconds):

Wyoming's economy has traditionally been driven by the energy sector, particularly coal, oil, and natural gas. However, with the increasing focus on renewable energy and environmental concerns, the future of the energy industry in Wyoming may be subject to change.

One potential industry that could gain prominence in Wyoming is renewable energy, particularly wind and solar power. Wyoming has vast open spaces and high wind potential, making it an attractive location for wind farms. The state also receives abundant sunshine, making solar energy a viable option. As the demand for clean energy continues to grow and technology advances, Wyoming has the potential to become a leading producer of renewable energy.

Another sector with potential for growth in Wyoming is tourism. The state is renowned for its natural beauty, including national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton, as well as opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. By capitalizing on its natural assets and developing sustainable tourism practices, Wyoming could see continued growth in this industry.

Moreover, the technology sector has been expanding across the country, and Wyoming could witness its development as well. This includes areas such as software development, data analytics, and technology infrastructure. The growth of the technology industry would require investments in education and the development of a skilled workforce.

It's worth noting that economic shifts and changes can be influenced by various factors, including government policies, market dynamics, technological advancements, and societal priorities. These factors can significantly impact which industry emerges as the leading one in Wyoming over the next 10 years.

Geez, I could have written that but it might have taken an hour.

Okay, How About A Wyoming Poem?

Poetry means a lot to me. It is easy to love how poets weave wonderful stories through the use of just the right words.

How can a robot write a poem?

So, to make things even more difficult, I asked ChatGPT to write a poem about Wyoming (with apologies to our resident poets Rod Miller and Clair McFarland), here is what this AI critter put out in about 25 seconds:

Of Wyoming's Beauty, Let Me Now Convey In Wyoming's embrace, nature's wonders bloom, Where rugged mountains pierce the azure sky, The land of vast horizons and timeless gloom, A tapestry of beauty that draws the eye.

Beneath the heavens, her landscapes unfold, The majestic Rockies, standing tall and grand, Their snowy peaks, adorned in purest gold, A sight that humbles even nature's hand.

Yellowstone's cauldrons bubble and erupt, Geysers dancing with fervor, fierce and bright, Buffalo roam freely, a wild stampede abrupt, Painting the plains with untamed delight. Oh, Wyoming! Your wild and open heart, Captures souls with beauty, a timeless art.

As twilight hues adorn the land so wide, The sagebrush whispers secrets to the breeze, With hues of crimson, amber, gold beside, A symphony of colors that put minds at ease.

The Snake River weaves through valleys untamed, Reflecting mountains and forests, proud and free, As eagles soar above, untethered and unchained, They witness nature's splendid tapestry.

Oh, Wyoming! Your rivers and your lakes, Invite the weary traveler to find repose, In crystal waters, peace and solace takes, Beneath your starlit sky, where beauty grows.

With every season's change, a new delight, Wyoming, land of wonders, pure and bright. The prairies stretch in endless, rolling plains, Where wildflowers sway, and antelopes take flight, The wind whispers secrets in nature's refrains, As constellations paint the vast expanse of night.

Grand Teton, a regal crown, graces the scene, A sentinel of grandeur, majestic and rare, Reflecting in the lakes with waters serene, A vision of perfection beyond compare.

Oh, Wyoming! Your beauty knows no end, From sunrise to the twilight's fading glow, With every step, a new adventure to transcend, In your embrace, a spirit finds its flow.

In sonnets sung, your beauty I extol, Wyoming, land of wonder, heart, and soul.

Yikes, this is beautiful and captures the essence and beauty of our state as well as anything I have read for quite a while.

This poem came from a robot!

Perhaps there are folks out there who can identify this poem – perhaps it is just plagiarism, which I fervently hope is true but fear that, alas, it is not.

ChatGPT Missed Some Points

Long-time Wyoming observer and political candidate Hunkins is also a rancher. He said: “ChatGPT is full of itself. The tourists aren't coming to see windmills and solar panels. And, no Ag? No cattle nor sheep? ChatGPT has forgotten that the past is prologue.”

Cannon, who is a pretty good writer himself, thought the poetry reminded him of someone. He said: “I think AI must have read a lot of Willa Cather." 

Miller said, “That’s not poetry. That’s real estate porn!”

Wacker, who retired from being the single futurist for the 300,000-employee company HP, said: “By the way, the brakes burned out six years ago and the road we are on is VERY steep.” Hmmm. Not very optimistic.

So, are you as worried as I am? It is easy to see why these tech leaders feel the need to put the brakes on AI development before it is too late.

Stay tuned.

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.