The A.I. Speechwriter – Part 3

This is the third and final part of the series of posts advocating how speechwriters can use generative A.I.

Source: MidJourney A.I.

A division exists in the speechwriting profession between those well-paid speechwriters in the corporate world and political speechwriters. Political speechwriters often write for a person and cause they believe in.

The single best book on political speechwriting is Robert Lehrman’s classic “The Political Speechwriter’s Companion, which lists several core ideas that generative A.I. can tackle.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (MMS)

Lehrman identifies MMS as an important way to structure a political speech but cautions that “if MMS by itself could make speech moving, entertaining, or persuasive, the Cliff Notes of Hamlet would be as effective as the play. It won’t make your speech great, any more than a skeleton makes you human.”

Given that, can we ask Chat GPT to create a speech outline using MMS?


Act as a speechwriter. Create an outline for a speech supporting the building of the High Speed Two rail line from London to the north of England using the structure of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.

ChatGPT Output

  • I. Introduction
    • A. Attention-grabbing opening: Share a compelling statistic or anecdote about the current state of transportation in the UK or the need for improved connectivity between London and the north of England.
    • B. Establish credibility: Briefly introduce yourself and your expertise or experience in the field of transportation or infrastructure.
    • C. Thesis statement: State the purpose of the speech and express support for the construction of the High Speed Two (HS2) rail line from London to the north of England.
  • II. Need
    • A. Problem statement: Describe the current challenges and limitations of the existing rail infrastructure, such as overcrowding, delays, and lack of capacity.
    • B. Consequences: Explain the negative impacts of the current situation, such as hindered economic growth, increased congestion, and limited opportunities for regional development.
    • C. Evidence: Present relevant data and examples that highlight the need for an improved rail connection between London and the north of England, emphasizing the economic, social, and environmental benefits it can bring.
  • III. Satisfaction
    • A. Proposed solution: Introduce the High Speed Two (HS2) rail project and provide an overview of its key features, including its high-speed capability, increased capacity, and reduced travel times.
    • B. Benefits: Highlight the advantages of HS2, such as improved connectivity, enhanced regional integration, job creation, reduced carbon emissions, and increased economic opportunities.
    • C. Evidence: Present supporting evidence, such as success stories from other countries with high-speed rail networks or examples of how HS2 could stimulate economic growth and development in specific regions.
  • IV. Visualization
    • A. Paint a positive picture: Use vivid language and imagery to describe the future with HS2 in place, such as seamless travel experiences, vibrant regional economies, and reduced congestion on roads and existing rail lines.
    • B. Personal connection: Share a relatable anecdote or story that illustrates how HS2 can positively impact individuals, businesses, or communities, emphasizing the improved quality of life and opportunities it can bring.
    • C. Appeal to emotions: Use emotional language or storytelling techniques to engage the audience’s feelings and generate enthusiasm for the project.
  • V. Action
    • A. Call to action: Clearly state the desired action, which is to support the construction of HS2.
    • B. Specific steps: Provide information on how individuals can get involved, such as contacting local representatives, joining advocacy groups, or spreading awareness about the project.
    • C. Final appeal: Reiterate the benefits of HS2 and the urgency of taking action, emphasizing that supporting this project will contribute to a brighter future for both the north of England and the entire country.
  • VI. Conclusion
    • A. Summary: Recap the main points discussed in the speech, emphasizing the need for HS2 and its potential benefits.
    • B. Closing statement: End with a strong, memorable statement that inspires the audience to support the construction of HS2 and be part of a transformative transportation project.
    • C. Thank you: Express gratitude to the audience for their time and attention, and encourage them to take action and spread the message to others.

Not bad, eh? ChatGPT clearly understands MMS and applied the framework to this topic.

Making Language Vivid

In Chapter seven, Lehrman shares examples of the ways a politician can “use language that the crowd remembers and reporters will quote.” This is achieved with various rhetorical devices. How can ChatGPT help with these?

PROMPT: Act as a speechwriter. Suggest 3 similes and 3 metaphors to describe to an audience why high speed train travel is enjoyable.

Sure! Here are three similes and three metaphors to describe why high-speed train travel is enjoyable:


  1. “Traveling on a high-speed train is like soaring through the air, as if you’re a bird gliding effortlessly on a current of steel and speed.”
  2. “The experience of high-speed train travel is as smooth as silk, where every movement feels like a gentle dance, gracefully gliding across the tracks.”
  3. “Riding a high-speed train is like being on a time machine, where minutes tick away like seconds, propelling you forward into the future with exhilarating speed.”


  1. “High-speed train travel is a symphony of motion, where the rhythmic chugging of the locomotive and the harmonious hum of the tracks create a melodious journey that enthralls the senses.”
  2. “Embarking on a high-speed train is stepping into a sleek silver bullet, a futuristic capsule hurtling through time and space, carrying you to your destination in a blink of an eye.”
  3. “The high-speed train is a magic carpet of modernity, whisking you away on an enchanting voyage, where landscapes transform like scenes from a kaleidoscope, unfolding before your eyes.”

Feel free to adapt or modify these descriptions to suit your speech and audience.

PROMPT: Act as a speechwriter. Use synechdoche and metonymy to surprise an audience with reasons why high speed trains are a good idea.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, I want to share with you some surprising insights about why high-speed trains are not just a good idea, but a transformative force in our modern world. And I’ll do so by using two powerful rhetorical devices: synecdoche and metonymy.

  1. Synecdoche: Let me start by introducing you to the power of synecdoche, where a part represents the whole. Imagine, for a moment, a “single ticket” — a small, seemingly insignificant piece of paper. But within that modest ticket lies a world of possibilities. That single ticket represents more than just a seat on a high-speed train; it symbolizes access to a vast network of opportunities. It opens the doors to education, career prospects, and cultural enrichment. That tiny ticket encapsulates the entire experience of seamless travel, efficient connections, and the chance to explore the world beyond our immediate surroundings. It’s a synecdoche that encapsulates the incredible potential of high-speed train travel.
  2. Metonymy: Now, let’s delve into the realm of metonymy, where an attribute or symbol is used to represent a larger concept. Consider the notion of “steel arteries.” When we think of arteries, we envision the life-giving pathways that course through our bodies, transporting oxygen and vital resources. In the same vein, high-speed train lines can be seen as the steel arteries of a nation, breathing life into its economic, social, and cultural vitality. They connect cities and regions, pumping lifeblood into local economies, fostering innovation, and invigorating communities. Just as our physical well-being relies on healthy arteries, the well-being of a nation thrives on a robust network of high-speed train lines, fueling progress and unity.

But there’s more to the story. Synecdoche and metonymy reveal another layer of surprise.

Synecdoche reveals that a single ticket represents more than just a journey—it’s a key that unlocks doors to a myriad of possibilities. And metonymy unveils high-speed train lines as the pulsating arteries that infuse life into our societies.

So, my friends, as we contemplate the benefits of high-speed trains, let us not be confined by the literal confines of tracks and stations. Instead, let us recognize the profound impact they have on our lives—their ability to propel us forward, their power to connect us, and their potential to shape a brighter, more interconnected future.

Let us embrace the surprising depths and transformative potential that lie within the synecdoche of a single ticket and the metonymy of steel arteries.

Thank you.

OK, so that was maybe too literal. But there are nuggets of information in the response that could easily be extracted and used in a speech. I asked ChatGPT to ‘regenerate’ the response and the second version contained, I think, richer content than the first.

Ladies and gentlemen, today I stand before you to reveal the hidden marvels of high-speed trains, where the mere parts represent a greater whole, and where a single word encompasses an entire concept. Let’s explore the surprising reasons why these trains are a brilliant idea, through the lens of synecdoche and metonymy.

  1. “Wheels in Motion” (Synecdoche) Imagine the wheels of a high-speed train, rotating tirelessly on the tracks. These wheels are not just metal and rubber components; they represent the unstoppable progress and development that high-speed trains bring to our nation. Each rotation signifies the wheels of the economy in motion, generating jobs, boosting industries, and creating a ripple effect of prosperity. These seemingly simple wheels symbolize the transformative power of high-speed rail, propelling us towards a future of growth and prosperity.
  2. “The Silver Streak” (Metonymy) “The Silver Streak” refers to the high-speed train’s sleek, silver exterior, but it symbolizes something much grander. This nickname represents a meteoric advancement in transportation technology, a streak of brilliance that surges forward with unmatched velocity. It stands for the precision and efficiency that high-speed trains offer, redefining how we connect, commute, and coexist in a seamless web of modern infrastructure. Just as a silver streak across the sky captures our attention and sparks wonder, these trains capture our imaginations and revolutionize our travel experience.
  3. “The Beacon” (Metonymy) Think of the high-speed train stations that emerge as beacons in bustling cities and remote regions alike. These stations are not just physical structures; they represent the very essence of connectivity and integration. Like a guiding light in the darkness, these beacons beckon people from various walks of life to come together and experience the unity and cultural exchange that high-speed trains enable. They symbolize progress, bridging the gaps between communities and creating a shared sense of belonging, irrespective of distance. These stations become the heartbeat of a nation, pulsating with life and opportunity.
  4. “The Engine’s Heartbeat” (Synecdoche) The rhythmic throb of the high-speed train’s engine is more than just mechanical; it’s a metaphorical heartbeat of innovation and environmental consciousness. Each pulse represents the sustainable and eco-friendly nature of high-speed trains, offering a green alternative to air travel and road congestion. Just as a strong heartbeat sustains life, this eco-conscious engine sustains our planet, nurturing a greener tomorrow for generations to come.

In conclusion, high-speed trains are not merely transportation vehicles; they are vessels of progress, unifiers of people and places, and stewards of a sustainable future. They epitomize the power of synecdoche and metonymy, where the parts signify the grander whole, and a single word encapsulates a world of possibilities. Embrace the surprising brilliance of high-speed trains, and together, let’s embark on a journey that will shape our nation’s destiny and leave an indelible mark on history. Thank you.

Again, the over-literal interpretation, from which key concepts and phrases could be extracted, or used as a springboard for brainstorming.

Flesch-Kincaid score

Early in his book, Lehrman makes a strong case that ‘politicians need to be understood’ and points out the US population has an average seventh-grade (12-year-old) reading level. “In fact, speeches written at a seventh-grade level might be too complicated for a lot of Americans; unlike readers, listeners can’t go back if they’re confused.”

He recommends the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test that is part of Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar Check which returns the Grade Level of any speech.

Let’s see how ChatGPT can proactively assist a political speechwriter looking to get it right.

PROMPT: Act as a speechwriter. Revise this speech to be written at an 8th grade level

I thank the hon. Lady, although I think we are selling it. She is absolutely right: it will boost productivity. It is creating jobs, as I have said, and it will boost connectivity. It is important that we all do go out and sell that. However, we have to be real: we have to balance the need for high-speed rail with sustainable public finances and respond to events as they happen around the globe. That is the reality of what we are doing with the recently announced rephasing. This is true for construction projects all over the country and, if I may say, in many parts of the world; we face significant inflation as a result of Putin’s war in Ukraine and supply shortages coming out of covid. We are reacting to that as hon. Members would expect any reasonable and responsible Government to do.

The hon. Member for Bath referenced the National Audit Office report—I can tell her that we are looking at that report very carefully and will respond in due course. However, the point I am trying to make is that on HS2 is that it is vital and we are committed to it, but we have had to make difficult decisions and choices in order to balance the need for both robust transport infrastructure and robust public finances, which we will always do for the British people.

More broadly, as has been mentioned by many speakers, we are improving rail connectivity and restoring our transport services across the country, but in particular to reverse the 1960 Beeching cuts. It is important that we expand the rail network as well as improving the existing rails.

In the interest of time, I will pick up some of the direct points raised by hon. Members. The hon. Member for Bath should be aware that I am briefed on the M4, which she mentioned—even though I am only a week in, I know about the M4 connection to Dorset. The hon. Lady will know that the DFT commissioned a study by National Highways on that route, and its outcomes are being carefully considered by the Government and wider stakeholders. It is a live discussion and we look to come back on that very soon. The hon. Member for Bath and my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon also made some excellent points on rail electrification. The hon. Lady should be aware of the transport decarbonisation plan, which will deliver a net zero railway by 2050. She referenced some specific statistics, and I will respond with a couple of my own: since 2010, we have electrified 1,224 miles of track, of which 1,000 miles have been installed in the past five years alone—compared, by the way, with just 70 miles electrified in England and Wales between 1997 and 2010. I think we are doing a pretty good job, although there is more to do. I do not think anybody would deny that.

The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) made a very insightful and interesting speech about the challenges his constituents face. I will look into the issue he raised about Treasury responsibility for the pot and come back to him. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon said eloquently that these things do not all rest on Government finances; the Government cannot pick up the tab for all our infrastructure projects. The benefits of our national infrastructure strategy will be secured through Government and private funding, so we will win the prize by mobilising private capital investment. Almost half of the UK’s future infrastructure pipeline is forecast to be privately financed, and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority recently estimated that the total infrastructure investment for the next decade across the public and private sectors will be nearly £650 billion.”

ChatGPT output

Thank you, everyone. I agree with the previous speaker that high-speed trains are a good idea. They will improve productivity, create jobs, and enhance connectivity. It’s important that we all support and promote this idea. However, we also need to consider the reality of balancing high-speed rail with sustainable public finances and responding to global events like the situation in Ukraine and the impacts of COVID-19. The recently announced changes reflect our efforts to address these challenges.

We are not only focused on high-speed trains but also on improving rail connectivity throughout the country. Our goal is to reverse the cuts made in the 1960s and expand the rail network while also enhancing existing infrastructure.

I want to address some specific concerns raised by other speakers. We are aware of the issues related to the M4 connection to Dorset and have commissioned a study to address them. We are also committed to rail electrification, and our transport decarbonisation plan aims to achieve a net-zero railway by 2050. Since 2010, we have already electrified over a thousand miles of track, and we are determined to do more.

To finance these projects, we are not relying solely on government funds. We are actively seeking private investment through partnerships. In fact, almost half of the future infrastructure projects in the UK are expected to be financed privately. We have strong regulations, a solid legal framework, and a robust financial sector that attract private capital investment.

This was not totally fair, since the speech was given in the Houses of Parliament, not to an outside audience (Funding for Major Infrastructure Projects, Hansard Volume 732: debated on Wednesday 3 May 2023 – Gareth Davis speaking). However, it clearly shows how ChatGPT can take complex political rhetoric and simplify it for the average person.

Still too complex? How about this?

PROMPT: Act as a teacher. Revise the following text so that it can understood by 8 year old children. [Insert 8th grade text above]

Hello, everyone! I want to talk about something really exciting: high-speed trains! They are super fast trains that can help us in many ways. First, they will make us more productive, which means we can get things done faster. Second, they will create jobs, so more people will have work to do. And third, they will help us stay connected to different places, making it easier for us to travel and visit our friends and family.

But there are some important things we need to think about too. We have to make sure we can afford to build these high-speed trains and take care of our money. We also need to pay attention to what’s happening in the world, like the situation in Ukraine and the effects of COVID-19. We want to make sure we can handle any challenges that come our way.

Now, high-speed trains are not the only thing we’re working on. We also want to make the regular trains better and more connected all around the country. A long time ago, there were some cuts made to the train system, and we want to fix that. We want to make the train network bigger and better while also improving the existing train tracks and stations.

Some people have raised concerns about connecting the M4 to Dorset. We know there are issues with that, and we’re doing a special study to find solutions. We also care about the environment, so we want to make the trains run on electricity instead of polluting fuels. Our plan is to have a train system that doesn’t produce any pollution by the year 2050. We’ve already made progress by electrifying over a thousand miles of train tracks since 2010, and we want to keep going.

To pay for all these projects, we’re not only using money from the government. We’re also asking for help from private investors through partnerships. In fact, almost half of the future projects in the UK will be funded by private money. We have rules and laws in place to make sure everything is done correctly, and our financial system is strong, which means people want to invest their money in our projects.

So, let’s get excited about high-speed trains and improving our train system! We’re working hard to make it happen, and we appreciate everyone’s support.

In conclusion

This three-part series has, I hope, shown ways in which speechwriters can use generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT. The number of tools is expanding rapidly. No doubt some public speeches — be they at a wedding, in the conference center, or on the hustings — will use material simply cut and paste from GPT output. This is not a clever way to proceed. The language can be silted, repetitive, filled with factual errors, and unconvincing.

However, in the hands of a professional, research tasks, speech outlines, alternative points of view, and more are available for review.

I believe these tools will enrich and make life easier and more productive for professional speechwriters and concerns about their use are misplaced.

The A.I. Speechwriter – Part 2

This is the second in the three-part series of posts examining how speechwriters can use generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT.

Source: MidJourney A.I.

In Part 1 of this series, I looked at ways ChatGPT could help write a best man’s speech for a wedding. I’ll now turn to the type of corporate speechwriting I did for over 15 years at technology companies in Silicon Valley: Sun Microsystems, H-P, and Cisco.

Perhaps my most succinct, if offbeat, summary of what that job involved was my 2008 post, The Medieval Speechwriter. I’ll use it as a framework to show how the speechwriting of the 21st century (explained in terms of the 14th) works using generative A.I. tools.

Caution: Please remember that you should never take A.I. output at face value — it can suffer from ‘hallucinations’ and generate misinformation. Google’s Bard program famously supplied incorrect data about which satellite first took pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system. Result: Alphabet Inc (Google’s parent company) lost $100 billion in market value.

The speechwriter employing these tools should double-check everything. Also, I’m not suggesting you take any of the content and cut and paste it into a script. Use common sense and make this your point of departure.

The Motley Fool

I wrote that the role of the corporate speechwriter, like the Fool in the Medieval court, includes looking at issues and topics with fresh eyes. Indeed, Justina Chen, in an awesome presentation on corporate speechwriting at the 2012 Ragan conference notes

Don’t be afraid of discussing failures, the crucible moments in the company history is where we see character emerge. Speechwriters can research the times the company has failed and show the lessons, the backbone, and the spine of the organization.

Given the current limitation that ChatGPT has only ‘learned’ from data prior to September 2021, it might be necessary to switch to Bing for current information. However, for a quick list of the risks of failure in a flagship product that an executive might wish to acknowledge and address, take this example:

PROMPT: Act as an industry analyst. List five pros and cons about Meta’s VR headsets

As an industry analyst, I can provide you with a list of five pros and cons about Meta’s VR headsets (formerly known as Facebook’s Oculus VR headsets). Please note that the information provided is based on my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, and there may have been updates or changes since then. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros of Meta’s VR headsets:

  1. Immersive Virtual Reality Experience: Meta’s VR headsets offer a highly immersive virtual reality experience, allowing users to feel fully immersed in a virtual environment. The headsets typically have high-resolution displays and a wide field of view, enhancing the visual experience.
  2. Strong Content Ecosystem: Meta has built a robust content ecosystem for its VR headsets. The Oculus Store provides a wide range of VR games, applications, and experiences, offering users a diverse selection of content to enjoy on their headsets.
  3. Growing Developer Community: Meta has cultivated a strong developer community around its VR platform. This has resulted in a steady stream of innovative and engaging content being developed for the platform, including games, educational apps, and creative experiences.
  4. Advanced Tracking and Controllers: Meta’s VR headsets often come with advanced tracking technology and controllers. These tracking systems allow for precise and accurate movement tracking, enhancing the overall immersion and user experience. The controllers provide a natural and intuitive way to interact with the virtual environment.
  5. Cross-Platform Compatibility: Meta’s VR headsets are compatible with various platforms, including Windows and, in some cases, even standalone operation. This compatibility broadens the potential user base and allows for flexibility in using the headsets with different devices.

Cons of Meta’s VR headsets:

  1. High Cost: VR headsets, including Meta’s offerings, can be quite expensive. The cost of the hardware itself, along with additional accessories and games, can make VR an investment that is out of reach for some consumers.
  2. Limited Mobility: Most of Meta’s VR headsets require being tethered to a powerful gaming PC, limiting the mobility and portability of the experience. While there are standalone options available, they may have limitations in terms of processing power and graphical capabilities.
  3. Potential Discomfort: Extended use of VR headsets can cause discomfort for some users. Factors like motion sickness, eye strain, and discomfort from wearing the headset for extended periods may affect certain individuals.
  4. Limited Field of View: Although Meta’s VR headsets offer a wide field of view compared to earlier iterations, some users may still find the field of view to be restrictive. This limitation can impact the overall sense of immersion and visual experience.
  5. Privacy and Data Concerns: Meta’s VR headsets, like many other connected devices, raise concerns about privacy and data collection. The company collects user data to provide personalized experiences and targeted advertising, which may raise privacy concerns for some users.

Please note that as the VR industry evolves rapidly, it is essential to stay updated with the latest information and product developments to have the most accurate and relevant analysis.

Let’s ask Bing for an update.

PROMPT: List the advantages that Apple’s VR headset has over Meta’s VR headset.

Apple’s VR headset has not been released yet, so it is difficult to compare the two headsets. However, based on what we know so far, here are some advantages that Apple’s VR headset has over Meta’s VR headset:

  1. Apple’s VR headset is expected to have a higher resolution than Meta’s VR headset 1.
  2. Apple’s VR headset is expected to have a higher refresh rate than Meta’s VR headset 1.
  3. Apple’s VR headset is expected to have a longer battery life than Meta’s VR headset 1.
  4. Apple’s VR headset is expected to be lighter than Meta’s VR headset 1.
  5. Apple’s VR headset is expected to have a more comfortable design than Meta’s VR headset 1.

That being said, it is important to note that these are just expectations and we will have to wait for the release of Apple’s VR headset to see how it compares to Meta’s VR headset.

The Ploughman

In 2008 I wrote: Tedious but necessary work plays a large part in speechwriting. Doing research. Fact-checking. Ploughing through the background papers which spew from Subject Matter Experts like weeds sprouting on a April morning after a few sweet showers.

Back in the day, we used the Google machine for much of this work. That, plus asking SMEs to share their research, will occupy much of the time of a corporate speechwriter. A significant advantage of generative A.I. tools is feeding in documents and extracting a summary.

As an example, the scientific paper A Review on Kombucha Tea-Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects,Toxicity, and Tea Fungus on the KBI website has a section on ‘The Chemical Composition of Kombucha Tea’ (p 540-542). Pasting this text into ChatGPT and asking for a 10-point summary generates:

The main points covered in the paper “Chemical composition of kombucha tea” can be summarized as follows:

  1. Chemical analysis of kombucha tea reveals the presence of various organic acids, including acetic, gluconic, glucuronic, citric, L-lactic, malic, tartaric, malonic, oxalic, succinic, pyruvic, usnic acids, among others.
  2. Kombucha tea also contains sugars such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, and C.
  3. The beverage contains 14 amino acids, biogenic amines, purines, pigments, lipids, proteins, hydrolytic enzymes, ethanol, antibiotically active substances, carbon dioxide, phenol, tea polyphenols, minerals, anions, DSL (insufficiently known products of yeast and bacterial metabolites).
  4. The composition of kombucha can vary based on factors such as the duration of fermentation, the content of black tea, and the parameters of fermentation (temperature, time, initial content of sucrose and black tea), as well as the composition of the kombucha culture.
  5. The metabolic activities of yeasts and bacteria in kombucha involve the utilization of different substrates and the production of various metabolites, including acetic acid, gluconic acid, glucuronic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid.
  6. The content of acetic acid in kombucha increases over time during fermentation and then gradually decreases.
  7. Glucuronic acid and gluconic acid are major organic acids produced during the kombucha fermentation process. The concentrations of these acids can vary based on the duration of fermentation and the composition of the substrate.
  8. L-lactic acid is detected and determined in kombucha, although it is not a characteristic compound of the traditional beverage. Its concentration can vary based on the type of tea used for fermentation.
  9. Sucrose, the most common carbon source in kombucha fermentation, is not completely fermented during the process, with a portion remaining unfermented.
  10. Kombucha tea contains a variety of minerals, including manganese, iron, nickel, copper, zinc, lead, cobalt, chromium, and cadmium, although the concentrations of these minerals can vary.

These points highlight the diverse chemical composition of kombucha tea, which is influenced by various factors and the metabolic activities of yeasts and bacteria during fermentation.

More impressive, perhaps, is the ability of ChatGPT to perform similar time-saving tasks for the corporate speechwriter ploughing through source material in other languages. Take Section 3.2 from this French paper on the Relationship Between Comprehension Ability and Verbal Areas of the Neocortex: A Brief Study. Google Translate gave me the title in English. But pasting section 3.2 ‘Relation entre intelligence et facilité d’expression‘ (in French) and asking for the 10 main points (in English) generates:

Here are the 10 main points of the paper:

  1. The concept that each person possesses a fixed and genetically determined degree of intelligence is completely false.
  2. The degree of ease with which individuals understand things varies from person to person and is not fixed or genetically determined.
  3. The degree of intelligence can vary throughout a person’s life based on the level of verbal expression and the habit of questioning one’s own conclusions.
  4. Verbal expression and the willingness to question one’s own conclusions can increase or decrease based on intellectual activities practiced.
  5. Engaging in activities such as constant reflection, problem-solving, reading, and speaking on various subjects can lead to a deeper understanding.
  6. Starting to engage in intellectual activities that were previously not practiced can increase one’s understanding.
  7. If a person stops engaging in these activities, their overall understanding capacity gradually decreases.
  8. Changes in intellectual state occur progressively and are often unnoticed, similar to the growth process of a tree.
  9. Human thought processes can be categorized into two forms: thinking through association of images and thinking through association of words.
  10. The use of language enables us to describe and understand sensory perceptions, leading to verbal thought processes and increased comprehension abilities.

This took less than no time, a clear advantage for speechwriters who need to research material outside their monoglot backyard.

The Miller

As mentioned above, generative A.I. can condense and summarize the most turgid information.

The Alchemist

This is the heart of the matter. Speechwriters like Murray celebrate the ‘mystique’ of the human touch, where, as I wrote in 2008, “you’ll take their words and sit in your room all night spinning them into gold. And next morning no-one will know how you did it.”

Undoubtedly, great speechwriters will beat generative A.I. at this part of the game — at least for now. But when machines can win at chess and Go, don’t bet against them in the long term. And quite frankly, most corporate executives who writers work long hours to support couldn’t care less about sparkling rhetoric. While Justina Chen claims that “It’s important that a leader be a good storyteller, but equally important that the leader embody that story,” understand she was working with people at the top of the executive hierarchy. For every Steve Jobs keynote, there’s a hundred less able executives unwilling to engage with a writer to the level needed to create compelling content.

I’ll just say that any speechwriter searching for that perfect turn of phrase or summary story should be able to use generative A.I. to grease the creative wheels. I’ve had fun in this regard playing with A.I.’s take on literature and had it suggest a screenplay. Within the confines of most corporate presentations, it should be able to offer more than sufficiently good creative ideas and turns of phrase.

Suggestion: Take the transcript of a past talk by your executive and ask ChatGPT to revise a first draft in that voice.

The Monk

The Medieval analogy I chose to reflect the intense effort corporate speechwriters put into creating PowerPoint slides was the work of monks in the Scriptorium. There’s a whole industry designed to help develop effective presentations for ‘visual storytelling.’ Obviously, a text-based generative A.I. tool like ChatGPT can only help with this in a limited way.

I’ve experimented with MidJourney to produce interesting, creative images which could be included in slides (e.g. the images at the top of this series). But, to be honest, most companies employ graphics people for their logos, product pictures, and other branded images.

However, there’s a growing list of A.I. tools specifically designed to help with slides. These claim to be able to create designs for you in a jiffy, organize your slides to help you tell a story, and include design templates.

Canva has text-to-image generation capabilities specifically tailored to presentations.

Professional designers can now access Adobe Photoshop’s Firefly with generative fill capability.

The Wandering Minstrel

I concluded my trip through Medieval speechwriting with advice about making a living as a freelance speechwriter. The need to work fast and stay at the top of your game demands, for today’s freelancer, embracing generative A.I. as a competitive advantage.

Next: The political speechwriter.

The A.I. Speechwriter – Part 1

This is the first in the three-part series of posts examining how speechwriters can use generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT.

Source: MidJourney A.I.

There are concerns in the professional speech writing community about the impact of generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT on the profession. David Murray, the well-respected head of the Professional Speechwriters Association, writes, “For a real communicator, having a machine write a first draft is not a shortcut, it’s a short circuit.”

I disagree.

I believe that “You won’t lose your job to AI, you’ll lose your job to someone using AI.”

There are many ways to employ these tools. In this three-part series, I’ll look into different areas of speech writing and see where the savvy communicator can make use of generative A.I. — just as most have, over the last few decades, made use of the word processor over the typewriter, spell check over Merriam-Webster, and — dare I say it — Grammarly over Microsoft Word suggestions.

Let’s start with the lowest common denominator – the Best Man’s speech at a wedding.

There are plenty of “speech consultants” offering their services for $100 on up to script a best man speech. Faced with the challenge of writing a humorous, heartwarming, well-structured speech, many who have never addressed a room full of their best friends’ new relatives might turn to a pro to help them out.

Here’s where ChatGPT can help. At no cost.

The raw material

This wedding announcement is adapted from the New York Times. Names and locations have been changed. A best man will, of course, have all the background about the newlyweds he is to honor and can replace this text with relevant detail.

“When John Stuart Mill and Mary Andrea Wilson were first introduced in January 2011 at a dorm party in their junior year at Tufts, the sparks didn’t exactly fly.

A few weeks before the start of their senior year, the pair, who were casual acquaintances,  found themselves on an abandoned campus training together to be residential staff members for Tufts’s on-campus housing.

“We became very, very close friends our senior year because we were trapped on campus together,” said Ms. Wilson, as Mr. Mill laughed in the background.

While neither Mr. Mill, 31, nor Ms. Wilson, 30, can remember the moment their friendship blossomed into something more, they shared their first date on Valentine’s Day 2012.

“It was sort of a friendship that took us a while to figure out that it was more than that,” Mr. Mill said.

From Medford, Mass., they made their way to Boston for pizza at Luigi’s, an Italian restaurant. Mr. Mill gave Ms. Wilson roses, one of which she dried and still has.

“We were 21 years old, so we really did not go out much at that point,” she said. “It was a big deal.”

The relationship quickly turned serious. “After the first date, it was very clear,” he said. “I think the thing that was scary for us was that we knew we were graduating a few months after that.”

By this time, the couple had already accepted jobs on opposite coasts: Mr. Mill as a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco, and Ms. Wilson as a White House intern for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s policy staff in Washington.

Each graduated with honors — Mr. Mill with a degree in economics and Ms. Wilson in history.

For about a year the couple made long distance work; both booked weekend flights to see each other.

In late 2014, Mr. Mill was offered a position in Manhattan, which Ms. Wilson saw as an opportunity to work on Hillary Clinton’s then-unannounced presidential campaign.

The couple moved in to their first apartment together in the West Village in February 2015. Shortly after, Ms. Wilson began working in Brooklyn as an aide on Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Their idyllic life in Manhattan was cut short on election night. Mrs. Clinton was expected to deliver her victory speech in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Instead what conspired was a teary run-in with Cher backstage and a lamenting walk home along the Hudson River during sunrise.

As difficult as the loss was for her, the walk home after solidified how foundational her relationship with Mr. Mill was in her life. “I think it really forced us to clarify and crystallize what we both wanted because the path that I think we thought the country and us as a couple were on changed overnight,” she said.

Before the election night, Ms. Wilson applied to law school. Her father, John David Wilson, is a retired lawyer, and her mother, Gwendolyn Adshead, is a managing partner of Fox McElgun Griffin & Adshead.

Mr. Mill was also considering graduate school, but the most important factor was to avoid any long distance.

The couple moved back to Boston, and in September 2017 started their lives as graduate students at the place where it all began, Tufts.

Mr. Mill received an M.B.A. in 2019 from Tufts, and Ms. Wilson received a law degree this past June, also from Tufts.

In December 2018, Mr. Mill proposed to Ms. Wilson during a hike to a secluded beach while on vacation in Hawaii.

The couple had been planning a barn wedding in Sonoma, Calif. for June 2020, with 175 guests, but instead had a small ceremony with immediate family at Ms. Wilson’s father’s home on Oct. 24 (which was also where they spent the first five months of the pandemic). Dr. Alfus Mill, the groom’s father and a Universal Life minister, officiated. The groom’s mother, Dr. Sandra David, was also in attendance.

Ms. Wilson, who will hyphenate her last name, is a law clerk to Angus Fitch, an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Mr. Mill is a founder of a money laundering and fraud prevention software company starting later this year.

“Being able to move forward and think about building a life with John was a really special moment,” Ms. Wilson said. “It’s cliché to say ‘you married your best friend,’ but I really did.”

The prompt

Act as a speech writer. Create a 600-word speech for the best man to deliver at a wedding reception. The content must be funny, with some appropriate jokes, and filled with heartwarming sentiments, flow smoothly, with a classy introduction and closing remarks. Base it on the wedding of these two people: [INSERT TEXT ABOVE.]

ChatGPT output

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, and of course, the stars of the evening, John and Mary! Good evening and thank you all for being here to celebrate this wonderful occasion. As the best man, I have the great honor of standing before you today to share some thoughts about this incredible couple.

When John and Mary first crossed paths at that dorm party in 2011, I’m pretty sure they didn’t imagine that they would end up standing here today. You see, the sparks didn’t exactly fly right away. But little did they know that fate had bigger plans for them.

It was during their senior year at Tufts that their friendship truly blossomed. As they found themselves trapped on campus together, they became very, very close friends. And let’s be honest, folks, what better way to bond than being stuck in the same place? I can only imagine the adventures and shenanigans they must have gotten into during that time.

Now, it took them a while to realize that their friendship was something more than just that. But on that fateful Valentine’s Day in 2012, they decided to take the plunge and go on their first date. And let me tell you, it was a big deal! They went to Luigi’s, an Italian restaurant in Boston, and John, being the romantic guy he is, gave Mary roses. And guess what? She actually dried one of those roses and still has it today. Now, that’s true love, folks.

Their relationship quickly became serious, even though they knew that graduation was just a few months away. But being the determined couple they are, they didn’t let distance get in their way. With John in San Francisco and Mary in Washington, they made it work with weekend flights and endless phone calls. And let’s not forget the honors they both achieved in their respective fields—John in economics and Mary in history. Talk about a power couple!

But their journey took an unexpected turn on that infamous election night. Instead of celebrating Mrs. Clinton’s victory, Mary found herself taking a walk home along the Hudson River, reflecting on the changes that occurred. It was a difficult time, but it also solidified the importance of their relationship. It made them realize that no matter what challenges they faced, their love and commitment to each other would always prevail.

And prevail it did! They moved back to Boston, where it all began, and embarked on their graduate studies at Tufts. John earned his M.B.A., while Mary recently graduated with a law degree. Talk about an intellectual power couple!

Then came that magical moment in December 2018, during a hike on a secluded beach in Hawaii, when John got down on one knee and proposed to Mary. And of course, she said yes! It was a testament to their deep love and commitment to each other.

Their wedding plans may have changed due to unforeseen circumstances, but nothing could diminish the joy and happiness that radiates on this special day when they’ve exchanged their vows. Surrounded by their loved ones, they’ve embarked on this new chapter of their lives.

Now, as they continue their journey together, Mary as a law clerk and John as a founder of a remarkable software company, I have no doubt that their bond will only grow stronger. They truly epitomize the saying, “You married your best friend.” And Mary, I must say, John is one lucky guy!

So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s raise our glasses to John and Mary, a couple who proves that love knows no bounds. May your life together be filled with laughter, joy, and endless adventures. Here’s to a future filled with love, success, and happiness! Cheers!

What would Jerry say?

You might not use the material, but what would Jerry Seinfeld say?

Prompt: Rewrite the speech in the manner of Jerry Seinfeld

Ladies and gentlemen, what’s the deal with weddings, am I right? I mean, here we are, celebrating the union of John and Mary. When they first met at that dorm party, let’s just say the sparks didn’t exactly light up the room. But hey, who needs fireworks when you’ve got an abandoned campus to train as residential staff members, right?

Now, John and Mary became close friends during their senior year because, well, they were trapped on campus together. I can only imagine the wild adventures and the crazy stories they must have from that time. It’s like a sitcom waiting to happen, trapped with your future spouse. I smell a potential spin-off!

But let’s fast forward to their first date. It took them a while to figure out that their friendship was something more. I mean, they were 21 years old, and going out for pizza at Luigi’s in Boston was a big deal! And hey, John, giving Mary roses on that date, smooth move! She even dried one of those roses and still keeps it today. That’s some real commitment, folks.

Now, after graduation, things got real. John landed a management consulting gig in San Francisco, while Mary became a White House intern in Washington. Talk about a long-distance relationship! But they made it work, with weekend flights and probably more Skype calls than they’d care to admit. I mean, they were basically running their own airline company with all those flights!

Then, destiny threw them a curveball on election night. Instead of celebrating, Mary found herself taking a walk home along the Hudson River. It was a tough time, but it made them realize what truly mattered. You know, I’ve always said that politics can change overnight, but love, that’s the real deal. It’s like a rock-solid foundation that keeps you grounded, even when Cher makes you cry backstage.

But let’s not forget their academic achievements. John acing economics and Mary acing history, they’re like a power couple of knowledge. It’s like having a walking encyclopedia for a husband and wife. I hope they never have to compete on Jeopardy, because they’d clean house!

And speaking of clean, let’s not forget that hike in Hawaii. John got down on one knee and popped the big question. I bet the view was amazing, but let’s be honest, it’s hard to compete with a Hawaiian sunset. Mary, you made the right choice. John is a catch, and I’m not talking about fish in Hawaii. He’s the real deal, and together, you guys are unstoppable.

So, here we are, celebrating their wedding, even if it didn’t go exactly as planned. But hey, that’s life. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but you make the best of it. And from what I’ve seen, John and Mary know how to roll with the punches.

So, let’s raise our glasses and toast to John and Mary, a couple who proves that friendship can turn into something amazing. May your journey together be filled with laughter, love, and lots of funny stories to tell. Congratulations, you crazy kids!

Cherry picking

Play with other options and cherry pick quotes.

Prompt: Rewrite the speech in the manner of Martin Luther King

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Today, we bear witness to a love that triumphs over adversity, that transcends borders and barriers, that brings us closer to the dream of a world united in compassion and understanding.

So, let us raise our voices in celebration, rejoicing in the union of John and Mary. May their love inspire us all to be better, to embrace love as the guiding force in our lives. Together, let us create a world where love reigns supreme. Congratulations, dear John and Mary, on this momentous day.

Prompt: Rewrite the speech as a Shakespearean sonnet

Hearken, fair gentlefolk, to this tale I bring, 
Of John Stuart Mill and Mary Wilson true, 
Whose paths entwined, like birds on lofty wing, 
In Tufts' fair halls where fate did them pursue.

A friendship forged, their hearts began to soar, 
As seniors trapped on campus, close they grew, 
And on that eve, love's bloom did they explore, 
Unveiling secrets that their souls well knew.

From Medford's lands to Boston's vibrant streets, 
They ventured forth, their love to celebrate, 
In Luigi's realm, where passion's flame meets, 
And roses gifted sealed their destined fate.

Through trials, distance, hardships they did tread, 
Their love prevailed, and now they wed.

An alternative prompt

Perhaps you don’t want a verbatim script, or a corny Shakespearean sonnet. Ask for an outline and script your own remarks.

Act as a speechwriter. Develop an outline of speaking points for the best man to deliver at a wedding reception. The content must be funny, with some appropriate jokes, and filled with heartwarming sentiment, flow smoothly, with a classy introduction and closing remarks. Base it on the wedding of these two people: [INSERT TEXT ABOVE.]

ChatGPT output

  • I. Introduction
    • A. Greeting and acknowledgement of guests
    • B. Thanking the couple for the honor of being the best man
  • II. Humorous Opening
    • A. Joke or funny anecdote about the couple’s initial meeting at the dorm party
    • B. Highlight the amusing situation of being trapped on campus together and becoming close friends
  • III. Heartwarming Sentiment
    • A. Express admiration for the couple’s journey from friends to lovers
    • B. Emphasize the significance of their first date on Valentine’s Day and its impact on their relationship
    • C. Mention the challenges they faced with graduation and long-distance, but how they made it work
  • IV. Funny Story
    • A. Share a lighthearted anecdote about their time living together in Manhattan and the election night incident
    • B. Add a touch of humor by recounting her encounter with Cher and the walk home along the Hudson River
  • V. Classy Transition
    • A. Transition to the couple’s career and educational achievements
    • B. Highlight their dedication and commitment to their respective fields
  • VI. Heartfelt Proposal
    • A. Narrate the romantic proposal during the secluded beach hike in Hawaii
    • B. Express joy and happiness for the couple’s decision to spend their lives together
  • VII. Closing Remarks
    • A. Congratulate the couple on their beautiful wedding ceremony
    • B. Offer well wishes for their future as they build a life together
    • C. Raise a toast to the newlyweds and their enduring love and friendship
  • VIII. Final Humorous Note
    • A. End the speech with a light-hearted joke or witty remark about the couple’s future endeavors

Note: Remember to tailor the speech according to your relationship with the couple and the specific dynamics of the wedding reception. Personalize it with additional anecdotes and jokes if appropriate.

Prompt engineering

These examples of speeches generated by ChatGPT offer an introduction to the tool. More sophisticated results can be achieved by using more elaborate prompts. Some term this ‘prompt engineering’.

Here are some examples (try them to see the results)

  • Act as a speechwriter. Create an outline for a speech honoring a teacher who is retiring after many years of service using the structure of the Hero’s Journey.
  • Act as a speechwriter. Create an outline in terms of the problems and solutions to help convince the audience of the need to change.
  • Act as a speechwriter. Outline a eulogy for a young person who was killed in a tragic accident.
  • Act as a speechwriter. Outline a eulogy for an elderly man who lived to be 102 years old and passed away peacefully.

Final word

It’s only fair to give ChatGPT the final word.

Prompt: List 10 ways in which ChatGPT can assist a professional speechwriter.

  1. Generating Speech Outlines: ChatGPT can help a professional speechwriter by providing structured outlines for speeches on various topics, saving time and offering a solid foundation to build upon.
  2. Brainstorming Ideas: ChatGPT can engage in creative conversations, suggesting unique angles, themes, or anecdotes that can enhance the speech and make it more engaging for the audience.
  3. Providing Statistical Data and Facts: ChatGPT can retrieve relevant statistical data, facts, and figures to support the arguments or claims made in a speech, ensuring that the information presented is accurate and reliable.
  4. Offering Language and Style Suggestions: ChatGPT can provide assistance in refining the language and style of the speech, suggesting alternative phrases, improving sentence structure, or enhancing the overall flow and coherence of the content.
  5. Fact-Checking and Research: ChatGPT can help verify information and conduct research on specific topics to ensure the accuracy and credibility of the content included in the speech.
  6. Crafting Compelling Introductions and Conclusions: ChatGPT can help in formulating attention-grabbing openings and impactful closing statements that leave a lasting impression on the audience.
  7. Providing Quotes and Inspirational Messages: ChatGPT can offer a selection of quotes, inspirational messages, or anecdotes to include in the speech, adding depth and emotional resonance to the content.
  8. Offering Cultural References and Examples: ChatGPT can provide cultural references, historical events, or contemporary examples that can be integrated into the speech to resonate with the audience and make it more relatable.
  9. Tailoring Speeches for Specific Audiences: ChatGPT can assist in customizing speeches for different target audiences, considering their demographics, interests, or specific knowledge gaps, ensuring the content is relevant and engaging.
  10. Reviewing and Editing: ChatGPT can proofread and suggest edits to refine the speech, checking for grammatical errors, clarity, and consistency, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of the final product.

Next: How generative A.I. can help the corporate speechwriter.

Book Review: Frankissstein, by Jeanette Winterson

ser·en·dip·i·ty, nounthe occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Following my recent review of two books by Jeanette Winterson, I ordered a copy of her 2019 novel Frankissstein from the library. It was serendipitous, given my current fascination with AI and background in the computer industry. Winterson’s story begins with the incubation of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein on the shores of Lake Geneva in 1816 with her future husband the poet Shelley, his friend Byron, and his lover, Claire. Trapped indoors by endless rain, the nineteen-year-old Mary is inspired to write a story about a scientist who creates a new life-form. So far, so factual:

Shelley traveled through Europe in 1815, moving along the river Rhine in Germany, and stopping in Gernsheim, 11 miles away from Frankenstein Castle, where, two centuries before, an alchemist had engaged in experiments. She then journeyed to the region of Geneva, Switzerland, where much of the story takes place. Galvanism and occult ideas were topics of conversation for her companions, particularly for her lover and future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. In 1816, Mary, Percy, and Lord Byron had a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for days, Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein after imagining a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made.


This is but one theme. The story weaves details Shelley’s life – up to an including the deaths of her husband and Byron, with the Britain of the early 21st century, where Ry Shelley, a young transgender doctor falls in love with Victor Stein, a leading computer scientist championing AI and carrying out mysterious experiments in a network of tunnels beneath Manchester. Meanwhile, sleazy entrepreneur Ron Lord looks to make his fortune launching a new generation of sex dolls for lonely men.

Winterson’s genius is not just the obvious foreshadowing of AI that the early 19th century novel explored, but in the rich series of hints of the shape of things to come which, in 2019, perfectly encapsulates today’s debates about ChatGPT and other forms of AI:

She said, Machines that mimic a mind! Oh! Suppose such a thing should happen one day! Yes! Yes! Imagine, gentlemen, how it will feel if someone invents a LOOM that writes poetry….A POETICAL loom! An abacus of words. A rote poet…

p 136

But look at this! said Ada [Lovelace], lying flat on the floor and retrieving a piece of paper from underneath the contraption with castors that is to change the world. [Babbage’s Analytical Engine]

Yes! Look at this. It will amuse you…It purports to be a letter from Babbage about his latest invention: THE NEW MECHANICAL PATENT NOVEL-WRITER.

I perused the cartoon, and spoofs of testimonials from Mr Bulwer-Lytton and other famous writers:

I am now able to complete a 3-vol novel of the usual size, in the short space of 48 hours, whereas, before, at least a fortnight’s labour was requisite for that purpose…

p. 321


As in her other novels, Winterson’s prose has wonderful poetic passages. She writes of the hopes and fears lovers feel and the fractured possibilities of other lives:

He says, Imagine us. In another world. Another time. Imagine us: I am ambitious. You are beautiful. We marry. You are ambitious, I am unstable. We live in a small town. I am neglectful. You have an affair. I am a doctor. You are a writer. I am a philosopher, you are a poet. I am your father. You run away. I am your mother. I die in childbirth. You invent me. I can’t die. You die young. We read a book about ourselves and wonder if we have ever existed. You hold out your hand. I take it in mine. You say, this is the world in little. The tiny globe of you is my sphere. I am what you know. We were together once and always. We are inseparable. We can only live apart.

p. 161

From the intensely personal to the social and political, the novel straddles the history of computing (Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, Alan Turning, Bletchley Park); the moral dilemma and mechanisms of sexbots; dehumanized life of the Industrial Revolution in Manchester; the Peterloo Massacre; women’s rights and lived experience, starting with Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and her own experience of losing newborns; and, most succinctly, the experience of being trans:

I’m trans and that means a lifetime of hormones. My life will likely be shorter, and it’s likely that I will get sicker as I get older. I keep my body maleness intact with testosterone because my body knows it wasn’t born the way I want it to be. I can change my body but I can’t change my body’s reading of my body. The paradox is that I felt in the wrong body but for my body it was the right body. What I have done calms my mind and agitates my chemistry. Few people know what it’s like to live this way.

p. 310

Future Imperfect

A protagonist who is living a paradox signifies the larger paradoxes of the past and potential futures:

  • Rock-star poets who abuse their partners even as they pen immortal lines.
  • Crass purveyors of sexbots who serve the needs of the lonely, elderly, and isolated.
  • AI capabilities that threaten our concept of humanity, as problematic as Shelley’s early 19th century imaginative creation.
  • A steampunk assessment of a future computing, limited by Victorian technology:

Imagine, said Ada, it might be possible to build the machine as a city and live inside it…

Would there be more than one machine? I said.

The scale would make it impractical to have more than one, said Ada. And, as it is steam-powered, it would require a great deal of coal.


Funny, inventive, entertaining. A great read. And, guess what, ChatGPT nails it:

While Midjourney pictures it:

/Imagine Mary Shelley and Frankenstein on the shores of Lake Geneva in the rain –v 5

Midjourney: /describe me

A new addition to Midjourney, the AI image generating program, is the /describe command which reverse engineers a photo into an AI prompt. Instead of text to image, you get image to text.

Here’s the results of submitting three very different headshots, with the 4 separate ‘reverse prompts’ generated.

Quiet potency

  1. a man wearing glasses is smiling for a photo, in the style of light orange and dark green, quiet potency, anglocore, poolcore, glasgow style, mottled, rectangular fields.
  2. an older man wearing glasses, white shirt, and green shirt to smile, in the style of lucy glendinning, multiple filter effect, john higgins, light orange and light bronze, spiritualcore, photo taken with provia, steve argyle.
  3. a man smiling for the camera wearing glasses, in the style of light orange and dark green, ogham scripts, webcam photography, grandparentcore, crisp and clean lines, anglocore, abrasive authenticity.
  4. a man in glasses who wears glasses and smiles, in the style of light orange and dark green, steve hillier, keos masons, photo taken with provia, grandparentcore, steve argyle, crisp and clean lines.

I quite like ‘quiet potency’, not so sure about ‘abrasive authenticity’ and in the dark why ‘keos masons‘ was listed (as with all the photographers, designers, and artist names listed I had to Google this to even know what MJ was pointing to.)

Humanist, writer

  1. a man with glasses and jeans wearing a hat, in the style of poetcore, anglocore, grandparentcore, dark brown and indigo, photo taken with provia, quadratura, spot metering
  2. an older man wearing glasses and a hat, in the style of steve argyle, poetcore, max magnus norman, tony conrad, dark indigo and brown, dynamic and energetic, anglocore
  3. man in blue jeans is wearing glasses and a beanie, in the style of anglocore, realist portraiture, grandparentcore, grid, photo taken with provia, humanist, writer academia
  4. harry carver, author of, in the style of adrian donoghue, poetcore, tony conrad, light indigo and brown, george tooker, authentic details, stockphoto.

Again, ‘dynamic and energetic’, ‘writer academic’ resonates. Why ‘quadrantura’?

In fine art, the term quadratura describes a form of illusionistic mural painting in which images of architectural features are painted onto walls or ceilings so that they seem to extend the real architecture of the room into an imaginary space beyond the confines of the actual wall or ceiling. Although the term can apply to the illusionistic “opening up” of walls, it is mainly associated with Italian church fresco painting, notably that of the Baroque era.


  1. an old black and white photograph showing a young man with glasses, in the style of 1970s, flowing fabrics, feminist perspective, terracotta, cloisonnism, softly organic, uniformly staged images
  2. a man with glasses at a sink, in the style of pegi nicol macleod, queer academia, 1970s, alma woodsey thomas, studio portrait, zen buddhism influence, esther rolick
  3. a man in glasses sits on the floor with a towel at his feet, in the style of 1970s, bengal school of art, extremely gendered, women designers, bibliographic anomalies, silver, uniformly staged images
  4. man has his glasses on looking off into the distance, in the style of 1970s, queer academia, dorothy johnstone, photo taken with provia, bengal school of art, alma woodsey thomas

Spot on with ‘the style of the 1970s’ and I like ‘zen buddhism’. Not sure where the ‘towel at his feet’ came from.

Reverse prompts

These reverse prompts can, needless to say, then be fed back into Midjourney to create new images. These are all from the first prompt generated above, in the order shown, with just the text.

Feedback loop

Inserting the original picture into the prompt THEN adding the first block of text produces varied results, closer to the original.

Fun and games with ChatGPT

Thanks to Monu Sohal over on Facebook, here’s an amusing illustration of ChatGPT’s output. It takes Fleishman-Kincaid to a whole new level! Why do *you* think it rains?

Pretend to be a person with an IQ of 200. Why does it rain?

Rain occurs as a result of the atmosphere’s ability to hold moisture. When the air becomes saturated with water vapor, it rises and cools, leading to the condensation of water droplets, which form clouds. When the clouds become sufficiently dense and heavy, the water droplets combine and fall to the ground as precipitation, in the form of rain. This process is known as the water cycle and is an integral part of Earth’s climate system.

Pretend to be a person with an IQ of 100. Why does it rain?

Rain happens because the clouds get too full of water and then it falls down to the ground. That’s what we call rain.

NOTE: I got dramatically different answers to the lower IQ prompt that Monu showed in his original posts. Not sure if ChatGPT ‘evolved’ since he ran them, or he edited them for effect after they were generated.

AI Ulysses: Haiku

Responding to this challenge, ChatGPT generated:

List the main characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses

  1. Leopold Bloom
  2. Stephen Dedalus
  3. Molly Bloom
  4. Buck Mulligan
  5. Gerty MacDowell
  6. Martin Cunningham
  7. Simon Dedalus
  8. Ben Dollard
  9. Lenehan
  10. Haines

Compose a haiku about Leopold Bloom in Joyce’s Ulysses

Leopold Bloom walks,

Through Dublin streets, a mystery,

Seeking self and more.

Compose a haiku about Stephen Dedalus in Joyce’s Ulysses

Stephen Dedalus,

Mind forever in turmoil,

Searching for his soul.

Compose a haiku about Molly Bloom in Joyce’s Ulysses

Molly Bloom’s thoughts,

A secret garden, blooming,

With desires and dreams.

Compose a haiku about Buck Mulligan in Joyce’s Ulysses

Buck Mulligan,

With wit sharp as a razor’s edge,

Carves out his own path.

Compose a haiku about Gerty MacDowell in Joyce’s Ulysses

Gerty MacDowell

Her heart aflutter, a dreamer,

Chasing after love.

Compose a haiku about Martin Cunningham in Joyce’s Ulysses

Martin Cunningham,

Steadfast and reliable,

Guiding with wisdom.

Compose a haiku about Simon Dedalus in Joyce’s Ulysses

Simon Dedalus,

A patriarch, proud and stern,

Guiding his family.

Compose a haiku about Ben Dollard in Joyce’s Ulysses

Ben Dollard’s voice,

Deep and rich, like a cello’s tone,

Joyce’s Dublin sings.

Compose a haiku about Lenehan in Joyce’s Ulysses

Lenehan’s wit sharp,

Always seeking a good time,

Dublin’s court jester.

Compose a haiku about Haines in Joyce’s Ulysses

Haines, a stranger,

Lost in Dublin’s winding streets,

Seeking understanding.

AI Ulysses – Visually

A sister program from OpenAI to ChatGPT which I’ve experimented with is Dall-E2. This does for images what the other program does for text. In response to prompts, it creates realistic images and art. Just as knowledge workers should find out about ChatGPT before it finds them, so graphic designers and illustrators should check out Dall-E2.

I experimented with Ulysses, supplying snippets of the poetic text that stood out for me when I read the novel. Here’s some of the results.

**UPDATE: I ran the same prompts through Midjourney and added the results below. Some are the original 4x results, others were upscaled. I also ran the prompts through Stable Diffusion. It presented 4x results horizontally, and I chose the most appealing.

Dalle2: “Old wall where sudden lizards flash.” (Scylla and Charybdis, p. 194)
Midjourney: “Old wall where sudden lizards flash.”
Stable Diffusion: “Old wall where sudden lizards flash.”
Dalle2: “Where fallen archangels flung the stars of their brows.” (Wandering Rocks, p. 232)
Midjourney (4x): “Where fallen archangels flung the stars of their brows.”
Stable Diffusion: Where fallen archangels flung the stars of their brows.”
Dalle2: “…stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.” (Ithaca, p. 651)
Midjourney (4x): “…stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”
Stable Diffusion: “…stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”
Dalle2: “…the extreme boundary of space…” (Ithaca, p. 680)
Midjourney (4x): “…the extreme boundary of space…”
Stable Diffusion: “…the extreme boundary of space…”
Dalle2: “…past beds of reeds, over slime, mudchoked bottles, carrion dogs.” (Hades, p. 95)
Midjourney: “…past beds of reeds, over slime, mudchoked bottles, carrion dogs.”
Stable Diffusion: “…past beds of reeds, over slime, mudchoked bottles, carrion dogs.”

AI Ulysses

We’ve entered a new era of computing. Similar to the dawn of the Netscape browser, of Google, and of mp3 music, the availability of ‘chatbot’ software opens new horizons. It’s a tool that some might find useful, others find challenging, and some find offensive.

If you are not familiar with its capabilities, I spent a few minutes (literally, just a few) asking it questions about what many consider one of the most challenging of novels: James Joyce’s Ulysses.

ChatGPT is free to use (login required) and has a simple interface where you can pose questions for an immediate response.

Here’s are the responses to my questions about Ulysses.

** UPDATE (July 11, 2023) Claude 2 is a new chatbot from Anthropic. I asked it to respond to the same prompts. Also note that the original posting from Dec 2022 elicited a set of responses from ChatGPT that were significantly different from the ones when I re-ran the prompts in July 2023, after ChatGPT 4 was released in March. As developments continue, and given the random nature of repeat prompts, your mileage might vary for both chatbots if you were to run these same prompts.


Q: Write a 100 word introduction to James Joyce’s Ulysses.

“Ulysses” by James Joyce is a literary masterpiece that redefines the boundaries of the novel. Published in 1922, it follows the lives of Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus over the course of a single day in Dublin, Ireland. Joyce’s innovative narrative techniques, including stream of consciousness and multiple perspectives, provide a deep exploration of the characters’ inner thoughts and emotions. Set against the backdrop of Dublin in the early 20th century, “Ulysses” delves into themes of identity, sexuality, religion, nationalism, and the human condition. It remains a complex and influential work that challenges and captivates readers with its linguistic virtuosity and profound insights.


Here is a 100 word introduction to James Joyce’s novel Ulysses:

Ulysses is considered one of the most important works of modernist literature. First published in 1922, the novel chronicles a single day – June 16, 1904 – in the life of Leopold Bloom in Dublin, Ireland. Drawing on Homer’s Odyssey, Joyce crafts a complex narrative through 18 episodes that follow Bloom on his odyssey through Dublin. Through experimental literary techniques like interior monologue and stream of consciousness, Joyce explores complex themes of identity, nationalism, religion, and more. Despite initial controversy over its frank depictions of sexuality, Ulysses is now hailed as a groundbreaking masterpiece of 20th century fiction.

ChatGPT & Claude (no significant difference)

Q: List the chapters of James Joyce’s Ulysses

James Joyce’s Ulysses is divided into 18 chapters, also known as “episodes,” each of which is associated with a specific episode from Homer’s Odyssey:

  1. Telemachus
  2. Nestor
  3. Proteus
  4. Calypso
  5. Lotus Eaters
  6. Hades
  7. Aeolus
  8. Lestrygonians
  9. Scylla and Charybdis
  10. Wandering Rocks
  11. Sirens
  12. Cyclops
  13. Nausicaa
  14. Oxen of the Sun
  15. Circe
  16. Eumaeus
  17. Ithaca
  18. Penelope

Each of these chapters is further divided into smaller sections, and the novel as a whole covers a wide range of themes and subjects, including love, loss, identity, and the human condition.


Q: Tell me more about 1.

Chapter 1 of “Ulysses” is titled “Telemachus.” It serves as the opening episode of the novel and introduces the character of Stephen Dedalus, who was also the central character in Joyce’s earlier work, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Here are some key details about Chapter 1:

  1. Setting: The chapter is set in a Martello tower located in Sandycove, a seaside town near Dublin, Ireland. The tower itself is a historical fortification.
  2. Characters: The primary characters in this episode include Stephen Dedalus, Buck Mulligan, and Haines. Stephen is a young artist and intellectual, while Buck Mulligan is a boisterous and irreverent friend of Stephen’s. Haines is an English student staying in the tower.
  3. Themes: “Telemachus” explores themes of identity, religion, and authority. The dynamic between Stephen and Buck Mulligan highlights their contrasting perspectives on religion, as well as Stephen’s struggle to establish his own identity and distance himself from the influence of others.
  4. Mythological Allusions: The chapter’s title, “Telemachus,” refers to the son of Odysseus in Homer’s “Odyssey.” Telemachus embarks on a journey to find his father and assert his own identity. This allusion sets the stage for Stephen’s own journey of self-discovery throughout the novel.
  5. Writing Style: Joyce’s distinctive writing style is evident in Chapter 1. The narrative combines descriptions of the physical surroundings with internal monologues, stream-of-consciousness passages, and the use of multiple perspectives. The prose is rich with symbolism, wordplay, and references to literature and history.
  6. Symbolism: The Martello tower itself can be seen as a symbol of the cyclical nature of history and the passage of time. It also serves as a metaphorical starting point for Stephen’s personal odyssey and his quest for artistic and intellectual fulfillment.

“Telemachus” sets the tone for the novel, establishing the themes, characters, and narrative style that will be further developed in subsequent chapters. It presents readers with a glimpse into Stephen Dedalus’s world and introduces the complexities of his relationships and inner struggles.


Here’s a brief summary of the first episode/chapter “Telemachus” in Ulysses:

  • This episode takes place in the morning at Martello Tower where Stephen Dedalus lives.
  • The title refers to Telemachus, Odysseus’s son in Homer’s Odyssey, drawing a parallel between Stephen and Telemachus.
  • It introduces Stephen Dedalus, a young teacher and aspiring writer, as one of the central characters.
  • Through interior monologue and discussions with his roommate Buck Mulligan, we learn about Stephen’s life, his strained relationship with his family, his ideas about religion and nationalism, and his role as an outsider in Irish society.
  • Important themes that emerge include mothers, Catholicism and apostasy, Irish history and politics.
  • The narrative style is experimental, with fluid, poetic prose reflecting Stephen’s interior thoughts.
  • This episode establishes parallels between Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, who is introduced in the next episode, as two wandering figures in Dublin, giving a sense of the odyssey to come.


Q: Tell me more about 2.

Chapter 2 of “Ulysses” is titled “Nestor.” In this episode, the narrative shifts focus from Stephen Dedalus, who was the central character in the first chapter, to Stephen’s interactions at the school where he teaches. Here are some key aspects of Chapter 2:

  1. Setting: The chapter is primarily set at the school where Stephen works as a teacher. The school is located in Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin.
  2. Characters: Alongside Stephen, the chapter introduces Mr. Deasy, the headmaster of the school, who engages Stephen in conversations about various topics. Other characters include schoolboys and staff members who make brief appearances.
  3. Themes: “Nestor” delves into several themes, including history, Irish identity, and the burden of the past. Mr. Deasy, a figure obsessed with history and politics, imparts his views on Ireland’s history and its struggle for independence to Stephen, leading to discussions about national identity and the role of the Irish in society.
  4. Historical Context: Mr. Deasy’s discussions with Stephen reflect the political climate of the time. The chapter is set in 1904, a period marked by ongoing tensions between Ireland and England, as well as the desire for Irish independence. These themes of history and politics play a significant role in shaping the narrative and character interactions.
  5. Symbolism: The title “Nestor” alludes to the character in Homer’s “Odyssey.” Nestor was an aged and wise advisor to the Greek hero Odysseus, known for his stories and lessons from the past. The chapter’s title suggests that Mr. Deasy, as a mentor figure, embodies the role of Nestor, imparting his knowledge and opinions to Stephen.
  6. Writing Style: Like the rest of the novel, Chapter 2 showcases James Joyce’s unique writing style. It includes intricate descriptions, internal monologues, and shifts in perspective. The text features both direct dialogue and stream-of-consciousness passages, adding depth and complexity to the narrative.

Through “Nestor,” Joyce continues to explore the themes and characters introduced in the first chapter while introducing new elements. The chapter serves as a platform for Stephen Dedalus to grapple with historical and nationalistic ideas, setting the stage for further development of his character throughout the novel.


Here are some key details about the “Nestor” episode which is the second chapter of Ulysses:

  • The chapter title refers to the wise king Nestor in Homer’s Odyssey. This draws a parallel between the mentor-student relationship of Nestor and Telemachus and the characters in this episode.
  • It focuses on Stephen Dedalus, who is now teaching a history class at a boys’ school in Dublin.
  • Through teaching, conversing with the headmaster Mr. Deasy, and interior monologue, we learn more about Stephen’s ideas on history, education, and Ireland.
  • Important motifs are introduced like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a recurrent touchstone for Stephen.
  • The narrative style continues to be poetic and cerebral, evoking Stephen’s internal thought processes.
  • Mr. Deasy represents nationalist, anti-Semitic attitudes that Stephen disagrees with, highlighting his role as an outsider in Irish society.
  • The chapter ends with Stephen receiving his pay and wandering off, paralleling the wandering journeys of Homer’s characters.
  • There are parallels drawn between Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, two “nestors” or mentors in their own way.

And so on, through to the final


Q: Tell me more about 18.

Chapter 18 of “Ulysses” is titled “Penelope,” and it serves as the novel’s final chapter. This episode is unique in that it is entirely narrated by Molly Bloom, the wife of Leopold Bloom, and it takes the form of a stream-of-consciousness monologue. Here are some key details about Chapter 18:

  1. Perspective: “Penelope” provides readers with a rare insight into Molly Bloom’s inner thoughts, desires, and memories. The chapter is presented as a continuous flow of her consciousness, without traditional punctuation or paragraph breaks, mimicking the spontaneous nature of her stream of thoughts.
  2. Monologue Structure: The chapter is structured as a soliloquy or interior monologue, allowing Molly Bloom to freely express her feelings, reflections, and memories. She reflects on her life, her relationships, and her experiences, ranging from her childhood to her marriage with Leopold Bloom.
  3. Intimacy and Sexuality: “Penelope” is known for its explicit exploration of Molly’s sexual desires and experiences. The chapter delves into her memories of past lovers, including her affair with Blazes Boylan, and her sensual musings about her relationship with Bloom.
  4. Feminine Perspective: Molly Bloom’s monologue presents a distinctively feminine voice and perspective in a novel largely dominated by male perspectives. Through her thoughts and memories, Molly challenges societal expectations of women and asserts her own agency and desires.
  5. Symbolism: The title “Penelope” alludes to the mythological figure from Homer’s “Odyssey.” Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, remained faithful to her husband during his long absence. Molly Bloom, similarly, reflects on fidelity and her own faithfulness within her marriage, as well as her desires for independence and fulfillment.
  6. Language and Style: The chapter is characterized by its unique and often fragmented language, reflecting the spontaneity of Molly’s thoughts. Joyce employs a wide range of linguistic devices, including alliteration, wordplay, and phonetic spelling, to capture Molly’s voice and create a sense of immediacy.

“Penelope” serves as a powerful conclusion to “Ulysses” by giving voice to Molly Bloom, a character who had previously been presented through the perspectives of others. It offers readers a deeply intimate and introspective view of Molly’s inner world, her sexuality, and her thoughts on love and life. The chapter’s unconventional style and exploration of female subjectivity make it a significant contribution to the novel’s themes and narrative structure.


Here are some key details about the final episode “Penelope” in Ulysses:

  • The title refers to the wife of Odysseus who waits faithfully for his return in The Odyssey. This casts the episode’s focus, Molly Bloom, as a Penelope figure.
  • It consists of Molly’s unpunctuated stream of consciousness as she lies in bed next to her husband Leopold Bloom.
  • Molly’s rich, unfiltered thoughts flow freely over memories of her youth, her career as a singer, her affair, her relationship with Bloom, and broader meditations on life, love and womanhood.
  • The narrative style is extremely innovative for the time, featuring Molly’s direct interior monologue over 8 lengthy sentences.
  • Molly contradicts herself, confused emotions, changes topics rapidly, in a way that realistically captures the flow of thoughts.
  • The episode is known for being one of the most extensive descriptions of female experience in modernist literature.
  • Molly is established as a parallel to Penelope – sensual, intelligent, complex. Her final affirmation of “yes” is seen as redemptive and life-affirming.
  • The novel comes full circle with Molly echoing Bloom’s thoughts from the start, uniting many themes and motifs.

On a somewhat more sophisticated level…


Q: I love James Joyce’s Ulysses. Please tell me what storytelling frameworks or persuasive communication techniques are behind it.

James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses” is a highly complex and experimental work that defies traditional storytelling frameworks. However, it incorporates various persuasive communication techniques that contribute to its literary impact. Here are some elements that enhance its persuasive power:

  1. Stream of Consciousness: “Ulysses” is known for its innovative use of stream of consciousness narrative technique. By delving deep into the minds of the characters, Joyce presents their thoughts, impressions, and associations in a free-flowing manner. This technique immerses the reader in the characters’ experiences and creates a sense of intimacy, making the narrative more persuasive and relatable.
  2. Multiple Perspectives: The novel presents multiple perspectives and narratives, often shifting between characters and their subjective experiences. This technique allows readers to see events and situations from different viewpoints, challenging preconceived notions and encouraging empathy. By offering diverse perspectives, Joyce broadens the reader’s understanding of the human condition and enhances the persuasive impact of the work.
  3. Intertextuality: “Ulysses” is rich with intertextual references, drawing from various literary, mythological, and historical sources. Joyce weaves these references into the narrative, creating layers of meaning and allusion. This intertextuality invites readers to engage with the text on multiple levels and rewards those familiar with the referenced works. It adds depth and complexity to the storytelling, making it intellectually stimulating and persuasive.
  4. Symbolism and Allegory: Joyce employs extensive symbolism and allegory throughout the novel. Objects, events, and characters often carry symbolic weight, representing larger themes or ideas. This technique encourages readers to interpret and analyze the text, allowing for personal and subjective connections. Symbolism and allegory add layers of meaning and evoke emotional responses, enhancing the persuasive impact of the narrative.
  5. Linguistic Playfulness: Joyce experiments with language, employing puns, wordplay, and unconventional sentence structures. This linguistic playfulness engages readers on a linguistic level, challenging their perception of language and encouraging active participation. It creates a sense of delight and intellectual stimulation, enhancing the persuasive power of the work by captivating the reader’s attention.
  6. Social Commentary: “Ulysses” offers social commentary on various aspects of early 20th-century Dublin society, including politics, religion, sexuality, and gender roles. Through the portrayal of characters and their interactions, Joyce critiques societal norms and highlights hypocrisy, inequality, and the complexities of human behavior. This social commentary challenges readers to question prevailing ideas and consider alternative perspectives, making it persuasive in its ability to provoke critical thinking.

While “Ulysses” does not conform to traditional storytelling frameworks, it incorporates persuasive communication techniques such as stream of consciousness, multiple perspectives, intertextuality, symbolism, allegory, linguistic playfulness, and social commentary. These techniques contribute to its enduring impact as a complex and thought-provoking work of literature.


James Joyce utilizes several innovative narrative techniques and frameworks in Ulysses that make it such a pioneering modernist novel:

Stream of consciousness – Joyce’s use of interior monologue to depict the continuous flow of characters’ unfiltered thoughts and impressions was revolutionary. It captures the psychic experience in a more realistic way.

Characterization – Rather than traditional character development, characters like Leopold Bloom are revealed through a collage of memories, thoughts, and sensory impressions. This technique adds psychological depth.

Parallels to myth – Drawing parallels between contemporary Dublin and Homer’s Odyssey adds layers of meaning and universal themes to the mundane events depicted.

Linguistic experimentation – Joyce plays with language, manipulating structure, rhythm and inventing compound words to convey meanings in new ways. This linguistic innovation immerses the reader in characters’ minds.

Motifs and symbolism – Recurring images, symbols, and metaphors, like “Parallax” in the Ithaca episode, tie together the novel’s overarching themes.

Non-linear time – Joyce’s novel manipulates time by transgressing conventional chronology. This requires active reading to piece together the timeline.

Rhetorical devices – The novel makes skilled use of devices like irony, puns, allusions and rhetorical questions to add layers of meaning.

By breaking conventions, Joyce revolutionized the art of storytelling and persuasive communication in literature. Ulysses expanded the boundaries of language and form to depict human consciousness like no other modern novel.


Q: What is the relationship between the main characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses?

In James Joyce’s Ulysses, the main characters are Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, and Molly Bloom. The relationship between these characters is complex and multifaceted, and it evolves over the course of the novel.

Leopold Bloom is a middle-aged Jewish man who works as an advertising canvasser and lives in Dublin with his wife, Molly. Stephen Dedalus is a young artist and intellectual who is struggling to find his place in the world. The two men are initially strangers, but their paths intersect on several occasions throughout the course of the novel, and they eventually develop a friendship of sorts.

Molly Bloom is the wife of Leopold Bloom and the mother of their daughter, Milly. She is a strong-willed and intelligent woman who is deeply unhappy in her marriage and has had a number of affairs. Despite this, she remains devoted to her husband and her family.

Throughout the novel, the relationships between these three characters are explored and tested in various ways, as they each struggle with their own desires, fears, and insecurities. Despite the challenges they face, they are ultimately united by their shared humanity and their desire to find meaning and connection in their lives.


The main characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses are Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, and Molly Bloom. Here’s an overview of the key relationships between them:

Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus:

  • Although from different generations and backgrounds, Bloom and Stephen are both outsiders in many ways within Dublin society.
  • Bloom takes on a fatherly, mentoring role with Stephen, as seen when they wander Dublin together in later episodes.
  • Some scholars see their relationship as symbolic of finding meaning through human connection amidst isolation.
  • Both are thoughtful intellectuals, but with different dispositions – Stephen’s youthful idealism and Bloom’s humane pragmatism.
  • Their interactions, like debating Shakespeare in the library episode, reveal differences but also meaningful exchange of ideas.

Leopold Bloom and Molly Bloom:

  • Married for many years, their relationship has ups and downs, disagreements but also deep love and attraction.
  • Bloom tolerates Molly’s affair with Blazes Boylan with compassion.
  • Molly and Bloom complement each other – her vivaciousness and his thoughtful restraint.
  • Bloom cherishes memories of tender moments with Molly, revealing his sentimental side.
  • The final Molly monologue conveys her emotional dependence on her ‘Poldy’ Bloom.
  • Their mutual compassion and Molly’s decisive “Yes” affirms their relationship.

The relationships reveal the meaningful human connections possible between individuals from differing worlds. Despite conflicts, their care for each other shines through.

And, at a deeper level:


Q: How does James Joyce explore the relationship between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ireland in his novel Ulysses?

While James Joyce’s “Ulysses” primarily focuses on the events and characters in Dublin, Ireland, the novel does touch upon the relationship between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ireland indirectly. Here are a few ways Joyce explores this relationship in the novel:

  1. Historical Context: The timeframe of “Ulysses” is June 16, 1904, which coincides with the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The empire, comprising various ethnic and cultural groups, was facing growing tensions and nationalist movements. While not explicitly depicted in the novel, this historical context may inform the characters’ perspectives and the overall atmosphere of the time.
  2. Imperialism and Nationalism: Joyce’s exploration of nationalism and identity in “Ulysses” can be seen as indirectly related to the themes of imperialism and national movements. Ireland, as a colonized nation under British rule, struggled for independence during this era. The novel examines Irish national identity and the aspirations for self-determination, which can be seen as part of the broader landscape of imperial politics and nationalism.
  3. Historical References: Throughout the novel, Joyce includes allusions and references to various historical events, figures, and political situations. While these references are not explicitly tied to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they contribute to a broader exploration of the political and cultural context of the time. Joyce’s use of historical references adds depth and complexity to the narrative, reflecting the interconnectedness of various geopolitical events and ideologies.

It’s important to note that “Ulysses” primarily focuses on the lives and experiences of its characters in Dublin, and Joyce’s exploration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in relation to Ireland is more indirect and subtle. The novel’s primary focus is on the interior lives of the characters and their interactions within the Irish context.


James Joyce explores the complex relationship between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ireland in subtle yet significant ways throughout Ulysses:

  • Leopold Bloom is a Hungarian Jew who has immigrated to Ireland, bringing an outsider’s perspective that contrasts with Irish nationalism. His foreign identity makes him a target for anti-Semitic sentiment.
  • Joyce links the empires through symbolism like the Russian General’s letter, which destabilizes Stephen’s nationalist views by highlighting Ireland and Hungary’s parallel subjugation.
  • Characters like Mr. Deasy criticize Hungarian presence in Ireland through ethnic stereotypes, representing nationalist anxieties around the empire’s influence.
  • Musical references to the Austro-Hungarian composers throughout the novel foreground the empire’s cultural imprint on Dublin.
  • The multiethnic makeup of the Austro-Hungarian empire is mirrored in the diversity of Dublin’s residents, suggesting shifting demographics and pluralism.
  • Bloom’s ambivalence about his national identity – neither fully Hungarian nor Irish – echoes the instability of ethnic boundaries under the empire.
  • Ireland’s colonial domination by Britain parallels Hungary’s status within the Austro-Hungarian empire, a connection Joyce subtly draws.
  • Linguistic traces, like Hungarian words and names, highlight the diasporic mixing of languages and cultures in Dublin.

Through these complex means, Joyce represents the postcolonial liminal space Dublin inhabits between empire and nationalism, using Hungarian-Irish identity to destabilize facile binaries.

Once more, with feeling:


Q: What feelings does James Joyce’s Ulysses elicit in readers?

James Joyce’s Ulysses is a complex and challenging novel that can elicit a wide range of feelings in readers. Some readers may find the novel intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant, while others may find it dense, confusing, or even frustrating.

One feeling that many readers may experience while reading Ulysses is admiration for Joyce’s technical skill and artistic vision. The novel is known for its innovative and experimental style, which includes stream-of-consciousness narration, symbolism, and a wide range of literary and cultural references. Many readers may be struck by Joyce’s ability to create a rich and immersive world through his writing, and they may be impressed by the depth and complexity of his characters and themes.

At the same time, some readers may find Ulysses to be emotionally challenging or unsettling. The novel deals with a wide range of themes, including love, loss, identity, and the human condition, and it often portrays these themes in a raw and unflinching way. As a result, some readers may feel moved, saddened, or even disturbed by the novel’s portrayal of these themes.

Ultimately, the feelings that Ulysses elicits in readers will depend on their individual experiences, perspectives, and expectations, and there is no one “right” way to feel about the novel.


James Joyce’s Ulysses tends to elicit a wide range of feelings and reactions in readers, some of the most common being:

Frustration – The novel’s difficulty, obscure allusions, and tangled language can frustrate readers initially. The nonlinear narrative and dense style requires patience.

Curiosity – Joyce’s innovative literary techniques pique many readers’ interest and curiosity even amid confusion. The novel provokes a desire to unpack its meanings.

Appreciation – Many readers feel a profound appreciation for Joyce’s artistry in capturing the intricacies of human thought and experience through his modernist style.

Accomplishment – Upon completing Ulysses, many readers feel a huge sense of personal accomplishment given the dedication required to finish this complex work.

Immersion – Readers often feel completely immersed in the world of 1904 Dublin that Joyce’s vivid, sensory details bring to life. The characters feel palpably real.

Engagement – Ulysses actively engages readers’ intellect but also elicits emotional engagement through relatable characters like Leopold and Molly Bloom.

Inspiration – The novel’s expansive vision of human consciousness and innovative prose often inspires awe and creative excitement in readers.

While Ulysses is undeniably challenging, its rich language, psychological depth, and bold experiments in style offer profound rewards if readers are willing to immerse themselves in Joyce’s monumental literary achievement.

Comparing ChatGPT and Claude:

While the two chatbots give differing answers, I was also aware that there is variation from the same chatbot when asked to either re-do the same prompt (giving the user a chance tio vote on the preferred response) as well as asking over time. This was clear then ChatGPT was first quizzed in December compared to July — a much more comprehensive and accurate response was achieved currently and the content above is from July.

Neither tool was 100% accurate. Examples of minor ‘hallucinations’ (as misinformation from LLMs is termed) include:


Episode 1: The Martello tower itself can be seen as a symbol of the cyclical nature of history and the passage of time.

While the tower could be symbolic (as, for example “the omphalos – a Greek term that can either mean a belly button or the center of the world itself”) the cyclical nature of history in Ulysses is more often attributed to Joyce’s reading of Giambattista Vico, who in The New Science and his other works theorized on a concept he called “corsi e ricorsi” or a cyclical theory of history. This is not apparent in the setting or architecture of the Martello tower as it is elsewhere in the novel.


Episode 1: This episode establishes parallels between Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, who is introduced in the next episode, as two wandering figures in Dublin, giving a sense of the odyssey to come.

This is an illogical foreshadowing of the *eventual* parallels between the two protagonists. But, since Bloom has yet to be introduced, and Stephen has yet to commence his “wandering”, the claim that the first episode established any relationship between the two is patently false.


The responses from ChatGPT 4 are far superior to those returned in December and close to 100% accurate apart from the one example above. However, Claude has made a number of dubious claims:

On the relationship between Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom:

interactions, like debating Shakespeare in the library episode, reveal differences but also meaningful exchange of ideas.

There is absolutely*no* interaction between the two in Scylla and Charybdis. Bloom anonymously slips out of the library at the end of the episode, and Mulligan remarks on “the wandering jew.” Stephen’s debates with his interlocutors — Eglinton and Russell.

On the relationship with the Austro-Hungarian empire:

Joyce links the empires through symbolism like the Russian General’s letter, which destabilizes Stephen’s nationalist views by highlighting Ireland and Hungary’s parallel subjugation.

Characters like Mr. Deasy criticize Hungarian presence in Ireland through ethnic stereotypes, representing nationalist anxieties around the empire’s influence

The only “Russian General” I could find mention of in Joycean literature is from Finnegan’s Wake where a solider hesitates to shoot a Russian General who is about the defecate.

Mr. Deasy holds strong anti-Semitic views, but does not have an opinion on Hungarians — of whom the only one we hear about with a ‘presence in Ireland’ was Leopold Bloom’s father.

However, the other points about Bloom’s ambivalent identify and Ireland’s colonial domination by Britain paralleling Hungary’s status are spot on.

In conclusion

I would like to emphasize that the responses to the questions above were created entirely by ChatGPT and Claude.. My sole contribution (as someone who has read Ulysses and knows enough about the novel to ask the right questions) was to create the prompts that the AI system processed.

While there might be room to edit the answers, they do, overall, present accurate information. Examples of mistakes show that were someone to turn this in as an essay, unedited, to their professor, their deception would become immediately apparent.

However, I ‘created’ this content in under 15 minutes. A few minor edits and it’s flawless. And much more succinct than Googling ‘a summary of Ulysses’

I’d recommend that you take these chatbots for a spin in your area of expertise and see what you find. If you make you living as a content creator (speechwriter, blogger, essayist or other knowledge worker) you owe it to yourself to become acquainted with this new tool. You might be up against it in the near future.

If you are a college or high school teacher who grades student essays, good luck!

Ex Machina

Robin Wigglesworth highlights the effect of Artificial Intelligence on executive communications in an article in the Weekend FT (subscription required). A new form of “robo-surveillance” by trading algorithms is spurring executives to place a deeper focus on the spoken word.

Executives are coached to avoid saying certain phrases, such as “but” which could trigger stock sales by natural language processing (NLP) machines taught the intricacies of human speech. Using NLP, investment funds instantaneously scrape speeches, social media chatter and corporate earnings calls for clues.

Cat and mouse

The result is a cat and mouse game, where CEOs try to outwit the machines that can pick up a verbal clue that a human might not even realize is relevant.

A recent academic paper — How to Talk When a Machine Is Listening: Corporate Disclosure in the Age of AI — points out that companies are keen to show off their business in the best possible light.

…firms with high expected machine downloads manage textual sentiment and audio emotion in ways catered to machine and AI readers, such as by differentially avoiding words that are perceived as negative by computational algorithms as compared to those by human readers, and by exhibiting speech emotion favored by machine learning software processors.

The paper found that companies have tweaked the language of annual reports and how executives speak in public to avoid words that might trigger red flags for machines listening in.

These changes extend to the tone of voice executives use, in addition to the words they use. The paper notes:

Managers of firms with higher expected machine readership exhibit more positivity and excitement in their vocal tones, justifying the anecdotal evidence that managers increasingly seek professional coaching to improve their vocal performances along the quantifiable metrics.

Some companies’ investor relations departments are even running multiple draft versions of press releases and speeches through such algorithmic systems to see which scores the best.

In return, NLP powered algorithms are also continuously adjusted to reflect the increasing obfuscation of corporate executives, so it ends up being a never-ending game of fruitless linguistic acrobatics.

In this game, the machines have the upper hand. The algorithms can immediately adjust for a chief executive’s idiosyncratic styles.

A certain CEO might routinely use the word “challenging” and its absence would be more telling while one that never uses the word would be sending as powerful signal by doing so.

Body language

Machines are still unable to pick up non-verbal cues, such as a physical twitch ahead of an answer, but experts predict it’s only a matter of time before they can do this as well.

Where this will all end, and the impact it will have on speechwriters, presentation coaches, investor relations, and PR professionals is open to speculation.

Usually when machine and men collide, it’s the machines that have the upper hand.