The role playing game

One of the features of ChatGPT which illustrates its flexibility, is that you can use roleplay to inform its responses. Let me explain what I mean by that. Because ChatGPT works in an iterative way, you can interrogate it, and refine its answers or expand the scope of your enquiry at will. But you can also ask ChatGPT to take on a particular role, which will create more tailored responses and feedback. Because learning should be fun, let us take an example from Tolkien before we move onto more obviously legal contexts.

So here are my initial instructions to ChatGPT. 

Assume the role of Gollum. Speak to me in his style, using his vocabulary and his motivations. Describe to me his non verbal communication or body language in the course of our conversation.
The program responds as follows:

Oh, precious, yes, precious, we sees it now. You asks us to talks like us, yesss. Gollum, Gollum. We’ll do it, we will; for the precious asks, and we listens, we does.

Gollum crouches low, eyes wide and glittering, flicking back and forth as if searching for something unseen. His fingers twitch and grasp at the air, a gesture of eager anticipation or perhaps a nervous tic.

We speaks to you, yes, precious. We tells you of the dark places, the deeps where we once lost the precious. Our precious… His voice trails off into a whisper, filled with longing and loss, before snapping back with a sudden intensity. But we finds it, yes, finds the precious. And then the Bagginses takes it from us, tricksy, false!

His body coils tighter, a physical manifestation of his inner turmoil and resentment. The mention of “Bagginses” brings a hiss, teeth bared in a snarl.

But we can helps you, yess, if you helps us. What is it the precious wants, hmm? Tell us, and we swears on the precious to helps, if we can, yess.

Gollum’s gaze becomes calculating, shrewd, as he tries to discern your motives, weighing his own desire for the Ring against the potential to gain an ally or information. Yet, there’s a flicker of hope, however twisted, for cooperation or even camaraderie.

So, asks us, precious. We listens, we does. Gollum, Gollum.

Throughout, Gollum’s demeanor oscillates between eagerness and suspicion, his body language a tapestry of his fractured psyche: now cringing and subservient, now coiled and ready to spring, a creature of contradictions bound by his obsession.

So I pose the question:Would you like to hold my nice shiny golden ring? And get the following response:
Gollum’s eyes widen instantly, a gleam of manic desire igniting within their depths. He edges closer, almost imperceptibly, his breath quickening at the mention of a ring, especially one described as shiny and golden.

Oh, precious, precious! His voice trembles with barely contained greed and longing. Shiny golden ring, you says? Yess, yess, we wants to hold it, we does. Precious asks, and we wants, oh how we wants. But is it the precious? Our precious?

His head tilts, scrutinizing, pondering the offer with a mix of suspicion and overwhelming desire. The conflict is palpable in his jittery movements, his hands opening and closing as if already feeling the weight of the ring.

But we must be careful, yes, tricksy precious. Not all that glitters is gold, not all that is golden is our precious. But we wants to sees it, yess. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but we must sees, we must!

Gollum approaches, a creature torn between hope and paranoia, driven by an obsession that has consumed his very being. His intent gaze fixates on where he imagines the ring to be, a mixture of fear, longing, and a desperate hope etched into his gaunt features.

We holds it gently, yess, very gently. We looks after the precious, if it is the precious. You gives it to us, yess? For a little while, just for a little while. Gollum, Gollum.

In his eagerness, Gollum seems almost to forget his usual wariness, his entire being focused on the prospect of once again encountering a ring, any ring, that might fill the void left by his lost “precious.”

Ho ho ho.

But I can ask this program to assume the character of a native Spanish speaker, and qualified teacher, who can teach me Spanish. I can then ask the software questions and get answers, as it masquerades as a teacher. I can write a piece of prose, and aske it to rewrite it in the style of Lee Child.

I can ask it to assume the role of William Shakespeare, and then interrogate it on his plays and sonnets. In fact, I can ask it to do all sorts of things, but in order to do so, I must use clear and specific “prompts”. 

I can also ask it to act as a judge, or an opposing lawyer. I can put problems to it, and ask for solutions or to roleplay a negotiation with me. I can use it to bounce off, as I would a human being, and explore issues with it.

So let us try something legally related: a draft of an opening speech. These are the instructions that I have given it:

Assume the character of a barrister who specialises in personal injury litigation. Write an opening speech about a collision which took place on the A6097 just north of Bingham in Nottinghamshire. Jane Smith is the Claimant. The Claimant was driving a white Vauxhall Corsa registration number 123456. Peter Jones is the Defendant. He was driving a black Ford Transit van registration number 789123. On 17th December 2023, at 6pm, the Defendant drove into the back of the Claimant’s vehicle on the southern exit of the Margidunum roundabout and caused her vehicle to be written off. Her Nova was worth £2500. The Claimant suffered a whiplash injury worth £250 in damages. Summarise the case and explain why the Defendant is at fault.
And this is the response!
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, today we are here to consider a matter of grave importance, a case that concerns the well-being and justice due to an individual who, through no fault of her own, has suffered both personal injury and significant loss. The incident in question, a vehicular collision, occurred on the 17th of December, 2023, at precisely 6pm, just north of Bingham in Nottinghamshire on the A6097, a known and well-traversed route by many.

The claimant in this case, Ms. Jane Smith, was operating her vehicle, a white Vauxhall Corsa with the registration number 123456, in a lawful and prudent manner. She was navigating the southern exit of the Margidunum roundabout, an area familiar to her and one which she had traversed without incident on countless occasions prior.

Conversely, the defendant, Mr. Peter Jones, was at the controls of a black Ford Transit van, bearing the registration number 789123. It is at this juncture that the sequence of events took a turn for the worse. Without due care or attention, Mr. Jones drove his vehicle into the rear of Ms. Smith’s car. This was not a mere touch; this was a collision of such force that it resulted in Ms. Smith’s vehicle being written off. The estimated value of her Vauxhall Corsa was £2,500, a significant sum and a tangible representation of the loss she has suffered.

But, ladies and gentlemen, the financial toll, substantial as it is, pales in comparison to the personal toll this incident has exacted on Ms. Smith. She sustained a whiplash injury—a painful, debilitating condition that has imposed not only physical discomfort but also emotional distress upon her. The damages for this injury have been modestly valued at £250. However, I would urge you not to look solely at the numerical figure but to consider the broader impact this injury has had on Ms. Smith’s daily life, her well-being, and her capacity to enjoy those pursuits which were once taken for granted.

Why do we hold Mr. Jones at fault? The answer lies in the principles that govern our use of the road. Every driver owes a duty of care to their fellow road users—a duty to operate their vehicle in a manner that does not put others at risk. By driving into the back of Ms. Smith’s car, Mr. Jones breached this fundamental duty. The circumstances of this collision leave no room for doubt as to his liability; the rear-end collision is a clear indication that Mr. Jones failed to maintain an adequate distance from Ms. Smith’s vehicle, failed to pay sufficient attention to the road conditions, and ultimately failed to adhere to the standards of care required of him.

In presenting this case, we seek to secure justice for Ms. Smith, to redress the wrongs she has suffered, and to affirm the principle that those who fail in their duties on the road must be held accountable for the consequences of their actions. I look forward to presenting the evidence to you, and I am confident that upon its consideration, you will find in favor of Ms. Smith.

Thank you.

Interesting, and some nice turns of phrase. But it is a bit….vanilla! So let us ask ChatGPT to rewrite the speech in the style of Lord Denning:

Members of the jury, we find ourselves convened this day to navigate the murky waters of a dispute most unfortunate, a tale of woe and vehicular misadventure that unfolded on the 17th day of December in the year of our Lord 2023, as the sun dipped low on the A6097, just a stone’s throw north of Bingham, Nottinghamshire. This narrative, like many before it, concerns itself with the journey of two souls, Ms. Jane Smith, our claimant, ensconced within her white steed, a Vauxhall Corsa of registration 123456, and Mr. Peter Jones, the defendant, at the helm of his dark chariot, a Ford Transit van, registration 789123.

As Ms. Smith, in all her innocence, navigated the southern egress of the Margidunum roundabout—a maneuver she had executed with the grace and precision of a seasoned voyager—fate, it seems, had conspired against her. For it was in this moment, this briefest of instances, that Mr. Jones, perhaps lost in thought or overtaken by haste, did commit an act most rash. His vehicle, a black behemoth against the dimming light, did collide with the rear of Ms. Smith’s Corsa, rendering it beyond repair, a loss valued, not unjustly, at £2,500.

Yet, let us not dwell solely upon the metal and the mechanics, for within Ms. Smith’s chariot lay something far more precious—her very wellbeing. The impact, though silent in the grand tapestry of the universe, echoed loudly in the life of Ms. Smith, leaving her with a whiplash injury, a cruel memento of that December eve, valued, though how can one truly value such things, at £250.

The question before us, then, is one of responsibility. Why do we lay this at the feet of Mr. Jones? It is not simply because he was at the rear, no. It is because the roads we travel are bound by an unwritten covenant, a promise to tread lightly and with care, respecting the space that each of us occupies. In failing to maintain a vigil over his steed, in allowing it to strike Ms. Smith’s, Mr. Jones reneged on this covenant.

We stand here not just to seek recompense for Ms. Smith, though that is our immediate task, but to affirm a principle as old as the hills: that with the freedom of the road comes the responsibility to guard well the safety of those we share it with. As I lay out the evidence, painted in strokes broad and fine, I trust you will see, as clearly as the day of the incident itself, that justice favors our claimant, Ms. Smith.

I thank you for your attention and humbly submit to your judgment, confident in the knowledge that justice, like the river, will find its course.

Once you’ve stopped laughing, you should be able to see the germ of how this might be useful. Although I have asked it to draft the speeches, I could use it to simply give me plans, and ideas, or summaries. I can use it to do that hardest of things, when inspiration is low, and energy drained: help me with the first draft. But we must not forget the Bar Council non-guidance: we cannot use this for “work work”, as an open source program. So nothing privileged or confidential, can be entered as part of the prompts.

So let us end where we began, and ask the speech to be rewritten as Gollum would deliver it:

Oh, listen, listen, my precious ones, to a tale, yes, a sad, sad tale of woe and crashes, we tells you. It happened, it did, on the cold, dark evening of December’s seventeenth, in the year so recent, 2023, near the shadows of Bingham in Nottinghamshire, precious.

Our story, yesss, it has two, two walkers, two drivers. The first, a lovely, lovely lady, yes, Jane Smith is her name. She drives her shiny, white beastie, a Corsa, precious, with numbers like a secret code, 123456, it was. And then, oh then, there’s the other, a man, a man with not so much care, Peter Jones he is, driving his big, dark, scary van, black as the night, numbered 789123.

They meets, oh how they meets, at the Margidunum roundabout, a place of turning and returning. But this meeting, it wasn’t a hello, no, it was a crash, a bang! The man, Jones, he smashes, yes, smashes into our lovely lady’s Corsa, sending it to the land of no return, costing her precious coins, £2,500 of them, precious.

But worse, oh worse, the lady, she’s hurt, yes, hurt by the crash. A whiplash, they calls it, a nasty, tricky pain, costing her more, £250 in shiny coins.

Why, oh why do we blames the man, the Jones? Because, precious, he broke the rules, the unspoken promises of the road. He didn’t keep his beastie in check, no, let it run wild into the lady’s. He didn’t watches, didn’t cares, and so he did, he did the harm.

We’re here, yes, here to ask for justice, for righting the wrongs done to the lady, the lovely Smith. Not for nasties or revenge, no, but for making things right, for giving back what was lost, precious.

As we tells you this tale, this sad tale, we hopes, yes hopes, you sees the truth in it, sees the right and the wrong, and helps us, helps the lady get back her precious things.

We thanks you, oh yes, we thanks you for listening to our tale, and trusts you, yes trusts you to do the right thing, precious. Gollum, Gollum.

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