If there’s any television show in the world with its finger on the pulse of pop culture, it’s Comedy Central’s South Park. Due to the animated hit’s lightning-quick turnaround production time and ability to churn out new episodes in under a week, the series frequently uses current events as the inspiration to its storylines. Take the latest episode of the series as one example, it dealt with the arrival of ChatGPT, an AI platform that writes whatever you so desire.
In the episode, Stan Marsh starts using ChatGPT to write his essays for school, eventually dragging the likes of Craig and other students into the mix. Before too long at all, the group starts using the open source software for things other than schoolwork, such as texting their girlfriends and other people they have relationships with.
As you might expect from a series like South Park, the satire was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Not only that, but the AI software even got a writing credit on the outing. One of Stan’s holier-than-thou speeches was drafted using ChatGPT, as were some text messages sent to his girlfriend Wendy.
“It’s the giant tech companies who took Open AI, packaged it, monetized it, and pushed it out to all of us as fast as they could in order to get ahead,” Stan said in his speech.
After a prompt to text Wendy, ChatGPT quickly reacts with a robotic-sounding response, saying “‘Once upon a time, there was a boy named Stan who lived in South Park. Stan loved his girlfriend very much, but lately he hadn’t been truthful with her. One day, when Stan got to school, he was approached by his best friend.”
Oddly enough, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone run Deep Voodoo, a startup entrenched in AI technology. Last December, the duo managed to secure $20 million in funding for the project, which plans to use it to accelerate it’s development of “leading deepfake technology, cost-effective visual effects services, and original synthetic media projects.”
The first 25 seasons of South Park are now streaming on HBO Max while the show’s pandemic-era specials can be seen on Paramount+.