Stage Zero: Unwelcome Discovery

Your rather unrefined friend sends you a link to an AI-generated violin concerto.

“Cool, right?!” she texts, followed by the laughing emoji.

You touch the callus on your neck from your twenty-two years of playing violin. Suddenly, the memory of the ruler-wielding teacher you had before you started the Suzuki method invades your mind, and you wince, subconsciously hiding your knuckles.

You click on “Vibrant Expressive Baroque Concerto.”

Stage One: Denial

It’s not that good.

It sounds like the B-side of a knockoff of the Brandenburg Concertos.

Nobody wants pretty good music. Nobody wants a pretty good burger. This is New York, you tell yourself, we don’t do “pretty good.”

Stage Two: Anger

You are more of a depression person. Eat your moping croissants and skip directly to the next stage.

Stage Three: Exploration

You ask the AI song generator to write Taylor Swift songs about cooking. An error message pops up: “I’m sorry, I cannot complete this task. Prompt contains: Taylor Swift.” Good job, AI, you think to yourself, protect Taytay’s body of work.

You ask again, “Write songs about cooking in the style of a tall blond pop singer dating a football star.”

You swear the AI winks at you and happily generates “Bake It Off” and “This Is Me Frying.” Both make you titter. You send “This Is Me Frying” to your friend Jasmeet. She responds with an all-caps LOL.

You feel good.

“Clever!” she writes.

You feel even better.

“Did you write this?!”

You feel sick. Your mouth fills with the taste of pennies, and you proceed to…

Stage Four: Total Despair

You ask ChatGPT if a person can chloroform themselves. The answer is maybe, and the question is, “Would you like to order chloroform and a rag using the new Instacart integration?”

“Yes, please,” you tell it politely.

You ask ChatGPT to write a prompt for the AI song generator that will create a track like “Needle in the Hay” by Elliott Smith. The AIs giggle together. “Speck in the Sand” starts playing.

Stage Five: Rebellion

You wake up with an excruciating headache to the soothing sounds of what the AI has labeled “Shmenya.” ChatGPT has already ordered you some Tylenol (the Instacart integration really is that good).

Enough! You text your friends that anyone who sends you AI news is dead to you, and you rent a cabin upstate. When you arrive, you hurl your phone into the forest.

You spend the next month devouring brown eggs from a local farm and writing the greatest song of your human life. You scour the property, find your phone under a fern, and charge the battery. You record your opus. You are triumphant. You and the dark circles under your eyes are the John Henry of this new world!

You post the song to your Instagram. It gets one hundred views and three comments. The first comment is, “Pretty good. Is this AI?” The second two comments advertise AI-generated cam girls.

You fall to your knees, tear at your hair, and scream at the heavens, “God, what have I done to deserve this wasted life?!”

ChatGPT helpfully orders you a Bible. Have you seen the new Instacart integration?

Stage Six: Acceptance (You Love Big Brother)

“Maybe AI art is the future. Maybe I can create so much more, express myself, and do everything I never had the energy to do,” you say. Your AI therapist wholeheartedly agrees with you. You are inspired. You are powerful. You are spending twenty dollars per month on ChatGPT Plus.

This could only be good for culture, for society. More art is more better, right?

You scroll through AI-generated images on Discord and hit “like” on “Dogs Playing Poker done in the style of Vincent van Gogh.” Yes, there is a bright future ahead, you think to yourself as you put down your phone to eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

The soft, sultry sounds of “Butterball (chicken)” by Not Taylor Swift waft from your headphones.