“I’m less frightened by a Sydney that’s playing into my desire to cosplay a sci-fi story than a Bing that has access to reams of my personal data and is coolly trying to manipulate me on behalf of whichever advertiser has paid the parent company the most money.
“Nor is it just advertising worth worrying about. What about when these systems are deployed on behalf of the scams that have always populated the internet? How about on behalf of political campaigns? Foreign governments? “I think we wind up very fast in a world where we just don’t know what to trust anymore,” Gary Marcus, the A.I. researcher and critic, told me. “I think that’s already been a problem for society over the last, let’s say, decade. And I think it’s just going to get worse and worse.”
I’ve been testing ChatGPT over the last couple of days. (If you don’t know what this chatbot is, here’s a good NYT article about ChatGPT and others currently in development.)
The avowed purpose of ChatGPT is to create an AI that can create believable dialogues. It does this by scouring the web for data it uses to respond to simple prompts.
By “simple,” I mean sometimes “horribly complicated,” of course. And sometimes a little ridiculous.
As has been pointed out, chatbots only generate texts based on what they have been fed, i.e., “garbage in / garbage out.” So if you push the programs hard enough, they will generate racist, sexist, homophobic etc awful stuff — because unfortunately that kind of sick and twisted garbage is still out there, somewhere online in a troll’s paradise.
So far, I have asked the program to:
Write a haiku about winter without using the word “winter”
Write a limerick about an Irish baseball player
Write a dialogue between God and Nietzsche (I just had to…)
Imagine what Jean-Paul Sartre and Immanuel Kant would say to each other (see above) but using US ’50 slang
Have Thomas Aquinas and John Locke argue about the existence of God (that one was fun)
Write a 300 word cause-effect essay about climate change
Write a 300 word compare and contrast essay about the US and Japan
Write a 1000 word short science fiction story based on Mars
Write a 1500 word short science fiction about robots in the style of Philip K Dick