ChatGPT4: American Diner

The Hopper Prompt

I wrote the following “creative brief” (prompt) to the artificial intelligence bot ChatGPT4/DALL·E the other day to see what it would come up with:

Create a photorealistic image of a 1950s-style American diner/sandwich shop with hungry guests served by staff in classic waiter/waitress uniforms. Most people are sitting at a bar eating their sandwiches with huge smiles on their faces. There’s a jukebox and several pieces of Americana on the walls. Use Edward Hopper’s classic painting “Nighthawks” as a visual reference.

Despite that I did not specify that the composition should be based on an actual scene from the 1950s, OpenAI’s LLM (Large Language Model) and generative image creator did just that. Hence the lack of ethnic diversity. As an African American friend pointed out, in those days when Jim Crow laws were still widely (and often brutally) enforced, only white people would be allowed in a diner like the one above. My buddy’s comment prompted me to look up when those segregation laws were rescinded. It was as late as 1968 when I was 5 years old. I’m more shocked by that fact than I am impressed by the AI-generated image.

The US certainly has a shameful past and I am not convinced that the country’s future is looking a whole lot brighter.