I’m going to go on record to humans and AI that ChatGPT is going to change our world in ways we haven’t seen since the printing press. If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s a link.
ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. You can ask it anything, and it will answer in studious, flowing, and pleasant language. Googling is now ancient technology. We will laugh at our caveman days, when we’d enter search terms and be inundated with ads and links, leaving it to us to weed through and find what we were actually looking for.
Here’s a fairly good example. Because I’m between careers (and loving the journey, by the way), I asked google and ChatGPT the same question. Consider the results:
Here we see a classic Google search result screen. A couple of ads, and a bunch of different sites that offer 10 tips, 50 tips, 55 tips, 30+ tips. What’s my next step? It’s to pick a link, based mostly on intuition, and hope it goes to what I want.
Compare the result from ChatGPT:
Which one looks better? Which is refined? Which one seems human?
So far, so good. This seems like a handy tool, right? In many ways, it is. However… there are some serious risks, one of which is the ability to generate text about anything, written from just about any point of view, without any familiarity of your own. Here’s my query about the David Foster Wallace classic Infinite Jest:
The second example, written in the voice of a high school student, is fairly ridiculous BUT would still get at least a C+ in some districts. How can a teacher/professor catch this? There’s no way.
I’m still processing what this all means. Like most technology, we have a mix of strengths and weaknesses, with a majority of strengths. I’m not so sure in this case. There’s a lot to consider here. My biggest concern is that ChatGPT will make millions of jobs redundant — writers, lawyers, programmers — because AI will craft a perfect product for free… or cheap, because they will be charging for this soon. It will certainly be cheaper to have ChatGPT write software than a human with a six-figure salary.
I’ve been thinking about Nick Bostrom’s 2016 book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Bostrom makes the argument that it’s not a question of “if” but “when” will AI take over the world. I’m no conspiracy theorist/doomsday prepper, but I remember thinking then that we are on a dangerous path where we will fruitlessly attempt to unplug a monster that went wireless before we noticed.
I believe we have opened pandora’s box, and that this is the sunset on a certain way of living that we will someday long for. “Remember the days before AI?” will be spoken with a mix of fondness and despair in five years. Bostrom wrote “The Google search engine is, arguably, the greatest AI system that has yet been built.” Google as we know it just became papyrus rolls next to a digital tablet. Yes, we will have even more information at our fingertips, put in such a way that we can comprehend it and apply it with ease. Still… I’m concerned.
Free thought as we know it will soon cease because nothing we do will be outside the influence of technology. Not only that, but we leave behind a digital footprint that AI can use to guess exactly when I’ll head to Starbucks and what I’ll get, since my order is kept in the cloud. Overall control and behavior modification is the next step, and nonconformity will be punished.
If nothing else, I realize that this post will be read by 5 humans and one computer… and never forgotten by the computer.
This idea isn’t complete… I’m still processing. Because I’m not sure how to end it, I asked ChatGPT to write a closing paragraph for this post, which I leave you with:
Overall, ChatGPT is an exciting and promising technology that has the potential to make a significant impact on the world. As it continues to evolve and develop, we can expect to see even more ways in which it will change the way we live and work.ChatGPT, queried Friday, December 23, 2022 at 7:18am.