ChatGPT: The new and intriguing free AI assistant

If you haven’t heard about ChatGPT you will soon.

What is ChatGPT and how does it work?

ChatGPT is a free, text-based chat robot that you can ask questions via an online web page.

How did ChatGPT get smart enough to answer all the questions people are throwing at it?

The artificial intelligence behind Chat GPT has swallowed massive amounts of data, so much, that it has been able to develop an “intelligence” about what are the most helpful answers to your questions.

Moreover, from my own testing, ChatGPT seems to be able to spit out an answer quickly and on re-reading its own answer, can decide whether a better answer can be given immediately.

ChatGPT is not a search engine. It is not connected to websites, so it cannot respond to your question with links and suggestions of sites to visit as per our normal experience with online search.

ChatGPT is a project from start-up organisation Open AI who want

“to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity”

Recently, I was on videocall with my mother who lives in the USA and who is in the process of organising a Christmas dinner for our family members over there. So she took the opportunity to test ChatGPT for some Christmas menu recommendations.

Her question: We are having a family of 30 people for Christmas dinner what should we cook?

ChatGPT’s answer:

My mother said “that’s not bad, but it’s not a very American menu” so then she asked a follow-up question.

Could you suggest a more American menu?

ChatGPT’s answer:

According to mum, deviled eggs are definitely an American favourite.
Given that my mum’s house is not large, we wanted to see if ChatGPT could help with food ideas when there is standing room only.

Can you suggest any cocktail food as we don’t have a lot of room for people to sit down?

Then mum decided to ask it a question from the news.

Why are there demonstrations in Paris today?

Next, I wanted to invent a logically challenging question for the chatbot that might cause it some difficulty, so with tongue-in-cheek I asked

Can you write a get well soon card for a person that I don’t really like?

Thinking about the large domain of “relationships advice”, I wondered how the chatbot would perform, so I wound back the clock twenty years in my own mind and asked the following question.

I feel nervous about asking my partner's father for her hand in marriage, as he is a scary guy. Can you suggest how I should go about it?

All of this timely and rational advice aroused a growing desire in me to think of a question that would be just too difficult for ChatGPT to answer? So I let fly with

How does someone who is awake know that they are not asleep?

At first, ChatGPT instantly began writing an answer that was associating being awake with coherent and clear thought, however, before it got to the end, the chatbot decided to scrap its answer and showed an error message. After I refreshed the answer request again, it spat out the following improved answer, suggesting to me that perhaps it was reading its own generated answer on the fly and thinking about how it could be improved as it went.

Finally, I wished to ask it a serious policy question to finish up.

How should we best close the gap between rich and poor people and nations?

It’s certainly enjoyable to try and outwit this chatbot, but on a more serious note, such leaps in Artificial Intelligence bring the spectre of AI-induced human unemployment much closer.

In other words, if the effort saved by AI, leads to the unemployment of a journalist, counsellor, therapist, commentator or legal adviser, then what else should we as a society expect these people to do?

Is it reasonable for us to expect a counsellor to retrain as a computer programmer or a legal assistant as a data analyst?

Even for those AI-displaced people who are willing to re-train, we should expect some friction as people who may have been specialising in a role for their whole life are asked to unlearn everything, walk away and take a spot at the bottom of a frightening and unfamiliar industry.

It doesn’t take much imagination to consider that such AI-unemployed people could feel undermined and even angry towards a system they feel has not adequately protected them from harm ie “a robot took my job”, “nobody cares about us”, “ban AI” and “Humanity First”.

AI-caused unemployment could lead to community suffering if not managed appropriately

In order for society to avoid such suffering and division, careful consideration is needed to determine what type of short-term and long-term support should be available for AI-displaced workers?

Another challenging question is who should pay for this support and whether any part of the AI or tech industry who are benefitting from the increased deployment of AI are willing to share the financial burden of
AI-induced unemployment support?

We could also be asking ourselves deeper economic questions, such as how realistic will it be for us to continue to view a 3.5% unemployment rate as an indicator of full employment in the future?

The advance of Artificial Intelligence, such as ChatGPT and the structural changes it makes to our labour markets, could reasonably renew focus on the idea of a Universal Basic Income or UBI that could provide a safety net for the potentially growing percentage of the population who are unable to find re-employment after AI-induced job displacement.

A more difficult question is what should the community expect in return from the affected people who are in receipt of a fortnightly UBI payment?

A policy requirement to “do nothing” would clearly undermine the existing welfare system that is based on employment, job finding and or activity testing for those persons who are fit and able to work.

One possible idea is a flexible system of “community service contracts” that could require people receiving a UBI, to participate in a negotiated or programmed activity of their choosing that provides measurable outcomes to society.

In summary, ChatGPT is quite unique and feels like a paradigm shift in terms of humanity’s relationship with AI.

The challenge it throws down — is can our thinking and planning as a society move quickly enough to cushion those workers and families who will inevitably be affected as these technological changes ripple through the broader community over the years to come.



The Long View

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