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[Code Critique] LLM reads me_myself_and_other_mes.php

This discussion was created from comments split from: AI and Critical Code Studies (Main Thread).


  • edited February 17

    Questioning myself about the possibility to use Generative Artificial Intelligence to (critically) read code, as an help for someone who isn't able to do so by himself, yesterday night (here GMT+1) after the live meeting I've tried an exercise. I've proposed to ChatGPT 3.5 to read critically my code poem .
    Here follows the oracle's response:

    This PHP code titled "me_myself_and_other_mes.php" is not only a functional script but also a playful and introspective poem written by Stefano Penge. Here's what makes it interesting:

    Meta-commentary and License Play: The code starts with a meta-commentary, mimicking a copyright notice and licensing statement commonly seen in software. However, it cleverly subverts this by referring to itself as a poem and allowing modifications and redistributions based on the "reader's wish to share emotions." This blurs the lines between code, art, and legal text, inviting reflection on the nature of creative expression and ownership.

    Self-Reflection and Identity: The code delves into the theme of identity, specifically the different facets of the self ("me," "MySelf," "OtherMe," "AnotherMe"). Each class represents a distinct aspect of the speaker's identity, exploring desires both public and private. This reflects the complexity and multiplicity of human identity, echoing themes found in literature and philosophy.

    Polymorphism and Inheritance: The use of object-oriented programming concepts like inheritance and polymorphism serves as a metaphor for the ways in which identity is shaped by inheritance and social roles. Each subclass inherits from the "MySelf" class but may override or extend its behavior, illustrating how individuals navigate societal expectations while expressing their unique desires.

    Public vs. Private Desires: The distinction between public desires (stored in the "desires" property) and private desires (stored in the "secretDesires" property) raises questions about authenticity and vulnerability. The code comments suggest that certain desires should not be executed in public, highlighting the tension between societal norms and personal authenticity.

    Reader Participation: The code invites reader participation by prompting them to add their own desires to the subclasses. This interactive element encourages engagement with the poem's themes of self-discovery and introspection, inviting readers to reflect on their own desires and identities.

    Overall, "me_myself_and_other_mes.php" offers a creative exploration of identity, desire, and the expressive potential of code as a medium for self-reflection and artistic expression.

    I was positively surprised: it caught the joke in the license, the idea of multiple identities and differences, the hidden and the public desires, the request for participation and so on. So far, so good.

    I asked then for a full functional paradigm version of the same code. Though not able to correctly run the code (it gave a partial result, forgetting to execute the main class method which would print "to be happy forever!") ChatGPT gave a good version of the code, but in which the ideas of multiple identities of the same person get lost.

    Then, I was curious about the rewriting ability cross the natural/artificial language boundaries and I asked two more different version: one as a tale for 8 yo children and another in a Strindberg's play style. These are the results:

    Once upon a time, in a colorful town called Identityville, there lived three special friends: Me, OtherMe, and AnotherMe.

    Me was a curious child with big dreams. Their greatest desire was to explore the world and discover new adventures every day. They loved playing with toys, reading books, and making new friends.

    OtherMe was a shy but kind-hearted soul. Their deepest desire was to help others and spread happiness wherever they went. They enjoyed spending time in nature, listening to the birds sing, and sharing laughter with their friends.

    AnotherMe was a mysterious friend who always had a twinkle in their eye. Their desires were hidden behind a secret door, known only to them. They loved solving puzzles, exploring hidden treasures, and dreaming of magical lands beyond imagination.

    One sunny day, the three friends decided to have a picnic in the meadow. As they sat together, sharing sandwiches and giggles, they began to talk about their hopes and dreams.

    Me exclaimed, "I want to be an astronaut and explore the stars!"

    OtherMe smiled and said, "I want to be a doctor and help sick people feel better."

    AnotherMe nodded knowingly and whispered, "I have secret desires that I hold close to my heart, like finding a hidden treasure or meeting a friendly dragon."

    The friends laughed and shared stories late into the afternoon, each cherishing the uniqueness of their desires and the joy of being themselves.

    As the sun began to set, they realized that having different identities and desires made their friendship even more special. They hugged tightly, promising to support each other in chasing their dreams and discovering the magic of life.

    And so, in the enchanting town of Identityville, Me, OtherMe, and AnotherMe learned that being true to themselves and embracing their differences was the greatest adventure of all.

    And here's the Strindberg's one:

    Title: "Identities Unveiled: A Play of Hidden Desires"

    Act I: The Setting
    In the dimly lit parlor of a grand XIX century mansion, three figures stand in silhouette against the flickering candlelight. Me, OtherMe, and AnotherMe, adorned in elegant attire, exude an air of mystery and intrigue.

    Act II: The Dialogue
    Me, with a restless energy, paces the room, their eyes alight with dreams of distant galaxies and uncharted territories. "I long to escape the confines of this mundane existence," they declare, their voice echoing with longing.

    OtherMe, draped in shadows, speaks softly, their words tinged with compassion and empathy. "My heart aches to alleviate the suffering of those in need," they murmur, their gaze fixed on the flickering flames.

    AnotherMe, veiled in secrecy, leans in closer, their whispers barely audible above the crackling of the fire. "Beneath this facade lies a world of hidden desires," they confess, their eyes gleaming with intrigue.

    Act III: The Revelation
    As the tension mounts, Me, OtherMe, and AnotherMe confront the complexities of their intertwined identities. In a climactic moment of revelation, they cast aside their masks, revealing the depths of their souls.

    Me, embracing their adventurous spirit, declares, "I am the wanderer, the seeker of truths untold."

    OtherMe, embracing their altruistic nature, proclaims, "I am the healer, the bearer of compassion and hope."

    AnotherMe, embracing their enigmatic allure, whispers, "I am the keeper of secrets, the guardian of hidden desires."

    Act IV: The Denouement
    In the final moments of the play, Me, OtherMe, and AnotherMe stand united, their individuality celebrated and their desires laid bare. As the curtain falls, they depart into the shadows, destined to navigate the complexities of XIX century society with newfound understanding and resilience.

    End scene.

    Some questions:

    • in the critical code analysis the idea of multiple identities of the same person was present, but this get lost both in the functional rewriting and in the two English rewriting.
    • what about the "happy end": it was not in the code, from where does it come from? from the model chosen, from the training data? from a general bias towards social happiness?
  • Just one more question about languages: I was thinking that the same dialogue could be held in Italian. So I asked again to ChatGPT to "act as a critical code studies advisor to a scholar who wants to consider this piece of code and to explain with some examples what is interesting in the code", but in Italian language. This is the answer (translated in English afterwards by ChatGPT itself):

    This PHP code fragment represents an artistic and conceptual reflection on the concepts of identity and desire. Here are some interesting elements to consider:

    Poetic License: The code begins with a copyright statement followed by a poetic license. This license emphasizes the creative nature of the code, allowing the reader to modify and redistribute it based on their emotional desires or any other reason or feeling. This introduction challenges typical copyright conventions, emphasizing expressive freedom and emotional sharing.

    Exploration of Identity: The code aims to explore the multiple identities and desires of the author, represented by three classes: MySelf, Me, OtherMe, and AnotherMe. This hierarchical structure reflects the complexity of identity relationships and the variety of human desires. For example, the MySelf class represents the author's fundamental identity, while the Me, OtherMe, and AnotherMe classes represent different facets of this identity.

    Privacy and Intimacy: The code introduces the distinction between public and private desires. While public desires are accessible through the $desires property of the classes, private desires are hidden behind the $secretDesires property. This distinction suggests a reflection on the intimate nature of human desires and the tension between public and private in their expression.

    showDesires() Method: The MySelf class defines a showDesires() method that displays the class name and its desires. This method represents an instance of self-reflection within the code itself, inviting the reader to explore their own identities and desires through interaction with the code.

    Explanatory Comments: The code is accompanied by explanatory comments that guide the reader through its structure and meaning. These comments serve as interpretive guides, helping the reader better understand the author's intentions and grasp the conceptual nuances of the code.

    Ultimately, this code fragment goes beyond its practical function, offering an opportunity for reflection and exploration on the themes of identity, desire, and creative expression through programming language.

    It seems to me that the comment is less deeper of the English one, attributing the different identities to the author of the code, not to the character staged in the peom; it fails to fully catch the poetic, fictional aspects.

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