What AI chat is good for

Mon Mar 6 2023

There’s a song that runs through the last season of Battlestar Galactica. They never actually play the song or even clips of it. Instead, the actors kind of hum snippets of it, and I can’t make it out. Clearly, it’s an important plot point, and I’m supposed to know it.


In our household, we consider video an individual pursuit, much like reading. The idea of sitting with my partner in our own home, looking at the same screen1 is a little weird. It would be like reading from the same book at the same time.

The reason we live like this is that I tend to have lots of questions while I’m watching something:

  • What’s going on?
  • Who’s that guy?
  • What did she say?
  • Are these two people the same person?
  • What’s that song?

My partner finds this kind of thing “annoying,” so she refuses to watch anything with me.2 Nonetheless, my questions persist.

As it happens, I’ve been playing with OpenAI’s chat API. I assume that it’s the same mechanism that powers ChatGPT. So I asked:

What is the song that leads Galactica to salvation

A: The song that leads Galactica to salvation is “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix.

That was pretty good. Even if it turns out that the song is actually by Bob Dylan.3 It’s the Jimi Hendrix version that plays in my head.

Now I had a follow-up question:


A: As an AI language model, I don’t have beliefs, emotions, or preferences to explain why. However, in the TV series Battlestar Galactica, the song “All Along the Watchtower” is heard repeatedly throughout the final season, and it is revealed that the characters have been hearing it in their minds because it is the key to unlocking the coordinates to the mythical planet Earth. The song acts as a signal to the fleet to come together and find their new home, leading them to salvation.

So that’s one thing about OpenAI’s GPT: It gets a little prissy. Questions about anything subjective, trigger those “As an AI language model” disclaimers. Those questions have to be attributable to a persona.

So I tried again.

U:What do the writers of the show say about that

A: The writers of the show have said that the choice of “All Along the Watchtower” was intentional, as it is a popular song with a timeless quality that still resonates with audiences today. They also wanted to create a sense of mystery and tension around the song, as it was heard by the characters but not immediately understood by them. The use of the song throughout the final season allowed the writers to tie together various storylines and character arcs in a powerful, emotional culmination. Overall, the choice of “All Along the Watchtower” was a deliberate and well-planned decision by the writers to enhance the themes and message of the show.

The Chat API has a sense of history and can answer indirect questions.4 Here, it infers what “the song” and “the show” refer to.

U: What does the song represent in the show?

A: The song “All Along the Watchtower” represents multiple things in the show.

Firstly, it represents a clue to finding Earth, the mythical planet that the surviving humans of the twelve colonies have been searching for since their homeworlds were destroyed by the Cylons. The song’s melody and lyrics are revealed to be the “Eye of Jupiter,” a vital clue to the location of Earth that is hidden in a musical composition.

Secondly, the song represents the idea of destiny and the cycles of time. It is revealed that the characters have been hearing the song in their minds because they are part of a repeating cycle of events that has occurred before, and will happen again. The song symbolizes the interconnectedness of events across time and space, linking the characters’ struggle to survive with a larger cosmic cycle of history.

Finally, the song represents a rallying cry for hope and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. Its use throughout the final season of the show brings the characters together and gives them a sense of purpose and direction in their search for Earth. The song serves as a powerful symbol of hope, uniting the characters in a common goal and inspiring them to keep fighting for their survival.

These multi-part answers give Chat its cottage cheese-like consistency. Very bulky, and not very filling.

What’s with this Eye of Jupiter thing? That was a thing in the third season, but I don’t remember any music. As I remembered it, the Eye of Jupiter was a symbol or a supernova. Let’s ask.

U:How is All Along the Watchtower related to the Eye of Jupiter?

A: In Battlestar Galactica, “All Along the Watchtower” is related to the Eye of Jupiter through a hidden musical composition. The Eye of Jupiter is a vital clue to the location of Earth, the mythical planet that the surviving humans of the twelve colonies are searching for. It is believed to be a jewel that holds the key to the coordinates to Earth.

The musical composition that contains the Eye of Jupiter is revealed to be hidden within the melody and lyrics of “All Along the Watchtower,” a popular song from the 1960s. As the characters hear the song in their minds and begin to piece together the lyrics, they realize that they hold the key to finding the planet Earth.

The song acts as a connection between the past, present, and future, tying together the cycles of time and the destiny of the characters. The Eye of Jupiter’s connection to “All Along the Watchtower” is a critical plot point in the series, and its revelation is central to the characters’ journey towards salvation.

Pretty good. And I didn’t have to bother my partner.5

At this point I accidentally ran this entire piece through my GPT Chat toy, and it gave me this:

A: Overall, the OpenAI GPT API proved to be a useful tool for quickly and efficiently getting information about a specific topic. While it may have its limitations and quirks, it can still provide valuable insights and details that can enhance one’s understanding of a given subject.

That was kind of weird. It’s a generic conclusion paragraph. It has the “on the one hand, on the other” clause, and points to a future of harmony and peace. What’s interesting is that it generated a paragraph for a piece about GPT, ignoring6the sections about Battlestar Galactica.

  1. We own no screens that you could watch across a room in any case. ↩︎

  2. Movies & theater are different. There is never ever any talking in these venues, except to shout “Fire!” or “Bravo!” ↩︎

  3. Which I found out only when I double-checked against ChatGPT. In my defense, I don’t care for Bob Dylan in the first place. ↩︎

  4. Chat isn’t really doing what it seems to be doing. The reason it has a history is because I’m feeding it the entire conversation with each new question. ↩︎

  5. Callback conclusions are cheesy, and I’m ok with it. ↩︎

  6. “Ignoring” is not the right word. It implies intention, and there’s no intent here. Chat is following a path, generating language that looks human. ↩︎