3 min read

Has anyone ever read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand? ChatGPT has.

I haven't read the book, Atlas Shrugged but I feel I should have. So this morning, I got ChatGPT to do it for me and the results were fascinating.
Has anyone ever read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand? ChatGPT has.
Photo by Tom Hermans / Unsplash

I haven't read the book "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand but I feel I should have. So this morning, I got ChatGPT to do it for me and the results were fascinating..

Before I reveal his/her synopsis let me say, I've always been curious. Fascinated by new technologies, different arguments, and alternative sources of information (than mainstream media).  For this reason, I enjoy discussion and controversy and much as I like to convince I would like to think I value other people's opinions and give them space to express without judgement. Apart from the odd idiot. HaHa.

I've always been an early adopter so it's no surprise I have this fascination with AI and ChatGPT in particular and I've been playing with it for over a month now.

The technology is not the finished article but, wow, it's impressive. However, as with anything new, you have to learn how to use it. It doesn't come with a manual which I probably wouldn't read anyway.

Back to Ayn Rand. Her name came up during a podcast this morning. She was often mentioned by presenters at direct sales and personal development seminars I had attended but I had never gotten around to reading her best-selling book, 'Atlas Shrugged'.

So this morning I turned to AI and ChatGPT. This is the result of the conversation:

Paul Clegg: Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged has proved both popular and controversial. Why?

ASIDE: I've discovered that you need to give AI prompts. I've discovered several that I choose from. If you would like the list drop me a message. This is the one I used on this occasion. [Voice and style guide: Write in a conversational, relatable style as if you were explaining something to a friend. Use natural language and phrasing that a real person would use in everyday conversations. Return only the main response. Remove pre-text and post-text.]

This is what I received back within 6 seconds.

ChatGPT: Atlas Shrugged is popular because it presents a compelling philosophy of individualism and self-interest. Rand's message resonates with many people who value personal achievement and success, as well as those who feel oppressed by the constraints of society and government.

However, the book is also controversial because it presents a highly idealised and simplified version of reality. Rand's characters are often one-dimensional and her message is frequently criticised for being overly simplistic and lacking nuance.

Additionally, her ideas about the role of government and the value of altruism are contentious and have been challenged by many critics. Despite these criticisms, the book remains popular among a certain subset of readers and continues to inspire debate and discussion.

Paul Clegg: Give me five quotes to illustrate the two arguments.

ChatGPT: Sure, here are five quotes to illustrate both sides of the argument:

Quotes illustrating the popularity of Atlas Shrugged:

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." - John Galt

"The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." - Ayn Rand

"Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values." - Ayn Rand

Quotes illustrating the controversy surrounding Atlas Shrugged:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers

"The book's ideology -- which exalts individualism and condemns altruism as irrational and destructive -- is eerily resonant with the doctrines of some of the most extreme contemporary libertarian and Tea Party groups." - Michiko Kakutani

Wow. The results following each question take 4 - 10 seconds for the answer to be spat out. I love the reveal. It reminds me of the telegram and Teletext machines we see in old movies tapping out the text letter by letter, word by word.

I guess I could have asked Google the same question or I could only have had a conversation with someone who had read the book.

But coming from AI (short of Alan) somehow it felt more personal. Go figure.