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CHATGPT, AS IN Generative Pre-trained Transformer, has been much in the news. Maureen Dowd has written about it in The New York Times, January 28, 2023. In a full-page ad in that newspaper, January 29, 2023, there’s “An Open Letter To AI” from Micha Kaufman, Founder and CEO of Fiverr. And H. Holden Thorp, Editor-in-Chief, AAAS Science journals, had written about it in Science, January 27, 2023. Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are tidbits gleaned from these as well as from other sleuthing on the Internet and elsewhere.
No, I haven’t tried ChapGPT myself. As Thorp noted, “The program is so popular that it’s likely to be ‘at capacity right now’ if you attempt to use it.” Besides, I enjoy writing too much to relinquish it to some bot.
Maureen Dowd a Pessimist. Maureen Dowd’s online column of January 28, 2023, is titled “A.I.: Actually Insipid Until It’s Actively Insidious.” Likely for reasons of print layout, the Sunday NYT version a day later was truncated to “A.I.: Actively Insidious.”
No matter. And I applaud Dowd (or possibly the NYT’s Style Book) for calling it A.I., as opposed to reading like some guy named Al.
“The alien invasion has begun,” Dowd writes. “Some experts say that when artificial intelligence takes off, it’s going to be like Martians landing on the National Mall.”
She tempers this, however: “So far, our mind children, as the roboticist Hans Moravec called our artificially intelligent offspring, are in the toddler phase, as we ooh and aah at the novelty of our creation. They’re headed for the rebellious teenage phase. When A.I. hurtles into adulthood and isn’t so artificial anymore, we’ll be relegated to being the family pets, as a resigned Steve Wozniak put it.”
The Fears. Dowd says, “There’s keening that ChatGPT—couldn’t they have come up with a better name, like HAL?—will eliminate millions of jobs. Why hire a college graduate if a bot can do the same work faster and cheaper? No more arguments about work-from-home rules, no more union fights. You don’t need to lure A.I. back into the office with pizza.”
She asks (rhetorically, I hope), “Once A.I. can run disinformation campaigns at lightning speed, will democracy stand a chance? We seem headed toward a Matrix where ‘it will become cheaper to show fakes than to show reality,’ Jaron Lanier, the father of virtual reality, wrote in Tablet.”
Roman Times. Coincidentally, The New York Times, January 29, 2023, had its page-three “Word Through The Times” item on “Misinformation: Tracing How One Word Has Changed Throughout Our Report,” by Sarah Diamond.
Sarah Diamond writes, “This might be a new era, but misinformation has a long history….. [It] swirled in Rome while Octavian waged a propaganda campaign on his political rival, Mark Antony. Deception appeared to work for Octavian, who became Augustus, the first emperor of Rome.”
Dis- Versus Misinformation. Diamond cites Steven Lee Myers, a misinformation reporter for The New York Times: “Disinformation is where you get into the area of propaganda and misleading people,” whereas “misinformation is errant information but not necessarily intentionally errant.”
I’d probably be misinforming someone if I say I’ve written enough about A.I. I would be disinforming if I say, along with my degrees from Baruch and NYU, that I also invented the ChapGPT algorithm.
Dear AI. No, it’s not addressed to some guy named Al. As described in “Online Marketplace Fiveer Writes an Open Letter to AI, with the help of AI,” “In a front page ad published in The New York Times, Fiverr’s letter, signed by its CEO Micha Kaufman, calls for coordination between AI and its human overseers. Pointing out the potential, and power of this tech innovation, the addressal underpins the need for human finesse in making the work produced by AI less ‘robotic.’ ”
The letter concludes, “I sincerely hope you receive this message, as, despite your impeccable reading skills, you still lack the ability to flip a page. Here’s to a successful partnership.”
Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll chat about science and A.I., its pluses and minuses.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2023
If they publish nonsense anyway they might as well use A.I. to do it. So long, employment:
P r o f o u n d thanks for this, and Gaia, Great Spirit, God, Zeus, Minerva, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea bless and protect Maureen Dowd for a terrific column and wake up call. We with trepidations over CHATGPA are hardly Luddites, for we embrace research, breakthroughs in rebuilding people, inc. those forgotten in VA hospitals, from accidents, birth defects, disseminating knowledge, the vetted journalism without which democracy cannot survive, saving the million species facing extinction in the next several decades because of human overpopulation, developing benign synfuels so those of us with ancient four-wheeled dragons might enjoy them occasionally without feeling like clueless hillbillies even tho’ animals raised for meat and dairy, according to the UN, produce more greenhouse gas than all the world’s cars, trucks, buses, trains, planes, ships combined. But CHATGPA — and dig that crazy name underscoring marketing trumps all — promises only further trivialization of uncharted human spirit with diminished wonder, will foster no Brownings, Yeats, Millays, Audens, nor Vivaldis, Chopins, Ravels, Armstrongs, McCartneys.
Do we imagine CHATGPA bringing us ranging wonders like SimanaitisSays?
By the way, Jaron Lanier’s “Tablet“ article referenced in the Dowd piece is fascinating as well.