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If an AI Wrote my Christmas Letter…

ChatGPT is all the rage right now. An artificial intelligence that combines the functions of Google/Siri/anything that searches the net for information and a contract writer, such as one you might hire on Fiverr to create a poem/essay/ode to the sugary drink you are currently addicted to. 

The likes of chatGPT may soon answer our emails, write documents and create literature. Even as my impulse is to say I don’t want AI writing my emails, I acknowledge that in my line of work, I send essentially the same email over and over again, in response to similar questions. AI could handle those. Or at least draft them for me to tap ‘send’, if appropriate.

For fun, I wrote a Christmas letter that I think chatGPT, or a similar thing, would write for me. Only after publishing this post will I ask chatGPT to write such a letter, and compare. This means I’m doing an experiment on myself. And AI. I had a great time trying to write like an AI. The irony is the goal of AI is to write like me, a human. Now who is replacing who?

A bit of background on the annual tradition of the ‘Christmas letter’. If you have never experienced this holiday tradition, the idea is to highlight family accomplishments over the past year and send exactly the same message to everyone you know, on a sheet of paper with a holiday scene in the background. Previously, this would be stuffed into a personalized greeting card, or now, attached to an email. Many I’ve seen suggest the sender’s life is the best one ever, tending to overachievements, such as growing award-winning vegetables, trips to exotic places, professional promotions, and other heroics of traditional Western culture. Very reminiscent of the charades of social media.

If I asked an AI to create my personal Christmas letter, I imagine it would use my social media, emails, calendar, utility bills, shopping records, the GPS from my car, Visa bill and probably infer some stuff for similar data of my friends and family, and combine this with general information relevant to my demographic and collected examples of the way people communicate.

The first draft of the letter, presented on a background drawings of evergreen trees, gift-wrapped packages resting in the snow, all seemingly engulfed in flames: 

Happy Season’s Greetings, friends, family and people from work!

It’s been a year 23% busier than last year, based on water consumption which is highly correlated with the number of showers taken at our house. Time, as a human construct that hasn’t been redefined since medieval times, has proceeded at exactly the same pace as the last 700 years. Still, we aren’t getting any younger, are we?

2022 started in the usual way, with many trips to the Go-train [commuter train to work] and purchase of expensive fruit and vegetables. This is to be expected, since the country where I live is frozen tundra during the winter with a net trade deficit of produce from Dec to May.

After receiving a DNA testing kit as a Mother’s day gift, I learned that my ancestry differs significantly from my apparent siblings. Lawyers are investigating the will of my late father. 

In June, my husband had a hernia operation at a private clinic that prides itself on its discretion, and the local peony festival was amazing. I’ve attached several photos.

Looking back, I can see it all clearly now. The cost of natural gas. How many times I ordered things from Etsy that I didn’t need but added to my quality of life. Random acts of carpentry and stock market commentary happened. It was the best of times! It was the worst of times!

In June, I was serene as Mrs. Green because my roses were in bloom, even if I don’t live in Pleasant Valley. In fact, the city where we live has extremely high rates, compared to the national average, of homelessness, poverty, crime and big dogs. And it’s not charcoal burning everywhere that we can smell, but it is legal.

July turned into September, and use of the A/C was replaced by lights. I was awarded a refund on my cellular connection plan, as were millions of other Canadians. It’s great when we all pull together to accomplish a common goal!

Over the last year Mom, bless her soul, called 2.1 times per day and I answered 0.9 times per day. She’s doing well shorting tech stocks, but got burned in the crypto-crash. 

The children hardly ever call, but when they do, DoorDash is used immediately thereafter. The children are so cute when they aren’t in jail. [This is a typo. Means when they aren’t jaded. Or jealous of each other. Or eating jalapenos. Will confirm.] 

Our son works from home for a large bank. We’re expecting he’ll achieve a VPN promotion soon and thrilled to have a family member in senior management.
Our daughter, who is often confused for me by facial recognition software and used my Visa for spa visits, continues to play the bass for a pop-punk rock band. Very clever of AI to recognize the similarity through the dark eyeliner and neck tattoos. [Uhh, some shameless, misguided self promotion here, AI?] 

Dave is as handsome as ever, and a complete tease. [Definitely to be edited out as Dave is now someone else’s husband. And I haven’t seen him in years.]

Plans for the coming year are pending a qualified engineer and include the annual celebration of Dante’s Inferno of software updates, paying the bills each month, and seeing the band, Three Days Grace, for the fifth time.

We all love you and miss you greatly, but auto-reply is on for email, so don’t expect an answer until early January!

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