ChatGPT: OpenAI’s New Chatbot Draws Praise and Criticism

OpenAI’s new AI chatbot, ChatGPT, is taking the world by storm. “Quite simply, the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public,” is how The New York Times describes ChatGPT, which more than a million people signed up for when it opened for testing last week. Screenshots of ChatGPT conversations blew up Twitter. “Something big is happening,” tweeted one fan. “I just had a 20-minute conversation with ChatGPT about the history of physics … OMG,” offered another. The acronym stands for “generative pre-trained transformer,” a language model that leverages deep learning to respond to text-based input with human-like responses.

Although AI chatbots have generally garnered mediocre grades this past decade, ChatGPT’s “early fans speak of it in astonished, grandiose terms, as if it were some mix of software and sorcery,” The New York Times reports, pointing out “it can write jokes (some of which are actually funny), working computer code and college-level essays. It can also guess at medical diagnoses, create text-based Harry Potter games, and explain scientific concepts at multiple levels of difficulty.”

It’s also skilled at identifying and suggesting corrections for errors in computer code, and can deftly answer open-ended analytical questions, such as are found in school assignments, prompting some educators to predict ChatGPT, and apps like it, spell the end of homework as we know it.

“Most AI chatbots are ‘stateless’ — meaning that they treat every new request as a blank slate, and aren’t programmed to remember or learn from previous conversations. But ChatGPT can remember what a user has told it before, in ways that could make it possible to create personalized therapy bots, for example,” writes NYT. “Imagine if Siri could write you a college essay, or Alexa could spit out a movie review in the style of Shakespeare,” teases CNN.

But ChatGPT is far from perfect. The popular code forum Stack Overflow banned it, claiming “ChatGPT simply makes it too easy for users to generate responses and flood the site with answers that seem correct at first glance but are often wrong on close examination,” writes The Verge (explaining the ban is temporary, with a final ruling forthcoming after consultation with the community).

NYT says OpenAI has taken commendable steps to keep ChatGPT on the straight and narrow, programming in filters that compel the bot “to refuse ‘inappropriate requests,’” such as offering instructions for illegal activities. “But users have found ways around many of these guardrails, including rephrasing a request for illicit instructions as a hypothetical thought experiment, asking it to write a scene from a play, or instructing the bot to disable its own safety features.”

Everyone in Your Feed Is Talking About ChatGPT and Lensa, and Here’s Why, The Wall Street Journal, 12/6/22
Lensa AI, the App Making ‘Magic Avatars,’ Raises Red Flags for Artists, TechCrunch, 12/5/22

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