Approach AI like Cobain

Some predict AI will end human creativity. But writers and musicians have always used systems to help them think.

Hop into my time machine

And discover the writing tool used by David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, William Boroughs, and – of course – the Dada art movement.

It’s called the cut-up method. Once you learn it, you’ll start using AI tools differently. Here’s how it works:

Take a newspaper. Take some scissors. Choose an article the length you want to make your poem, story, or song. Cut out that article. Next, carefully cut out each of the words that make up the article. Put them in a bag. Shake gently. Next, take out each cutting one after another. Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag. Congratulations! You’ve made an original work.

That wasn’t Bowie’s guide. Nor was it Cobain’s. I actually stole those steps from a poet’s manifesto written in the 1920s. Point is…

Each artist made cut-ups their own way

Though, admittedly, they were all looking for the same thing: a catalyst for creativity.

And that’s what you should look for in ChatGPT. Use AI tools to support your process, rather than replace it. To augment your creativity, instead of farming it out. Here’s how:

Five rules for using AI tools (inspired by cut-outs and Kurt Cobain)

  1. Find your own method.
  2. Choose your inputs carefully.
  3. Judge your outputs critically.
  4. Always add humanity.
  5. Keep the edges raw.

Rock on, you beautiful ape!

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