Lawrence Creaghan


I used A.I. to write my biography.
Hereís what happened next...

RON GRAHAM
The Globe and Mail, April 15, 2023


Spurred by all the Sturm und Drang about artificial intelligence in recent weeks, I decided to take GPT-4 out for a test run. For simplicityís sake, I asked it for a 1,500-word biography of a subject I know quite a lot about: myself. Seconds later, I received the following, to which Iíve inserted a few factual corrections in [square brackets], while leaving its many flabby thoughts and repetitive sentences for a later edit.

Ron Graham was a prolific Canadian author and journalist, who was widely known for his insightful and engaging writing style. Born in Toronto, Canada, on Sept. 25, 1949 [Ottawa, Canada, on Feb. 18, 1948], Graham began his writing career in the late 1960s [early 1980s], after graduating from the University of Toronto [McGill and Carleton] with a degree in English literature [Canadian studies].

Graham started his career as a journalist, working as a reporter for the Toronto Telegram, where he covered a wide range of topics, including crime, politics and entertainment [never a reporter and certainly not for the Telegram, which ceased publication in 1971]. His writing quickly gained recognition, and he was soon offered a job as a columnist for the Toronto Sun [wouldnít have accepted even if offered]. During his time at the Toronto Sun, Graham gained a reputation for his incisive and often controversial opinions, which were both insightful and entertaining.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Graham was also a prolific author, publishing over 20 books throughout his career [I wish]. His first book, The Last Buffalo Hunter, was published in 1975 and chronicled the life of a buffalo hunter who had survived the slaughter of his herd in the late 1800s [I seem to have been confused with Mary Weekes, whose book was originally published in 1939]. The book was a critical success and helped establish Graham as a rising star in the world of Canadian literature.

Over the next few years, Graham continued to write both fiction and non-fiction, including several books about the Canadian wilderness and its inhabitants [I almost died on a canoe trip in the Arctic once, but that never made it past a tale with which to impress the kids]. His 1980 book, The Raven and the Loon, was a collection of short stories that explored the lives of people living in Canadaís remote north [I deny any such cultural appropriation]. The book was praised for its vivid descriptions of the landscape and its people, and helped establish Graham as a leading voice in Canadian literature [the machine is obviously struggling to find enough to say to reach 1,500 words].

In the 1980s and 1990s, Graham continued to publish a wide range of books, including several biographies of notable Canadians, such as the singer Leonard Cohen [just one review and one article] and the former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. His 1995 book, One-Eyed Kings: Promise and Illusion in Canadian Politics, was a critical analysis of Canadian politics and its history, and was hailed as a landmark work in Canadian political science [I blush to admit thatís true, though it appeared in 1986].

Throughout his career, Graham was known for his passionate commitment to the arts and his support of emerging Canadian writers [I should have done much more]. He was a mentor to many young writers, and was active in several literary organizations, including the Writersí Union of Canada [only if active means being a member] and the Canadian Authors Association [perhaps mistaken for PEN Canada].

In addition to his writing, Graham was also a respected academic, teaching creative writing at the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto [no and no, only one year as a visiting lecturer at Ryerson]. His courses were popular with students, and many of his former students went on to have successful careers as writers [see what I mean about flabby thoughts and repetitive sentences?].

Grahamís writing was recognized with numerous awards and honors [American spelling] throughout his career. In 1986, he was awarded the Governor-Generalís Award for non-fiction for his book Godís Dominion, a history of the Canadian West [it was, alas, only nominated for the award in 1990 and wasnít about the Canadian West]. He also won the National Newspaper Award for column writing in 1990 and 1991 [no, unless they were for those non-existent incisive and often controversial columns in the Toronto Sun], and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2007 for his contributions to Canadian literature [note to the jury: Iím still waiting].

Graham remained active as a writer and journalist until his death in 2016 [news of which came as a sudden shock to his family and friends, who thought him looking particularly well for his age when last seen]. He was remembered by many as a passionate and insightful writer, who had a deep love for Canada and its people. His writing continues to inspire and entertain readers today, and his legacy as one of Canadaís most beloved authors and journalists lives on [amen!].


What are words really worth?