Knock of the future…

As 2022 came to a close, in November ChatGPT arrived. Within days of its unveiling, it had garnered more than 1 million users, and they are growing. You might have heard of it, if not, it is something we all should know about. It is a knock of the future on our lives and intellect.

Photo by Tara Winstead on

I asked ChatGPT how it would describe itself – ‘I am an artificial intelligence trained to assist users in generating human-like text. I do not have personal experiences or feelings and I do not have a physical body…provide information and answer questions …based on data that has been provided to me during my training.’

A product of OpenAI, one of the world’s leading AI companies based in San Francisco, it is poised to challenge many notions of what we perceive as pure human domains. Using machine learning technology, it can simulate dialogue, admit mistakes, reject inappropriate requests, and as the site informs when you register, it also remembers conversations! As Elon Musk described it, ‘It is scary good.” At the moment it is free, but it is likely to be monetized soon.

ChatGPT as its name suggests is based on a language model. It does not produce videos or images as other AI products do, but it has in-depth understanding of the spoken and written word. The model was trained using text databases from the internet. This included nearly 570GB of data obtained from books, web texts, Wikipedia, articles and other pieces of writing on the internet. A total of 300 billion words were fed into the system. It learns along the way, improving its understanding of questions.

For the real world it can create content, write scripts, books, stories, poems, research papers, edit articles, explain quantum mechanics in simple language and the like. Commercial uses could be in digital marketing, customer service, online content creation, code, answering industry specific questions, and it could have a dramatic impact on edtech. Just type ‘uses of ChatGPT’ on the net and see how people are already using it.

As per reports, Google issued a ‘code red’ for ChatGPT. The bot could challenge its dominance of the search domain on the internet. If a user can simply ask a bot for the answer, instead of having to navigate various sites, it would be a death knell for search engines. ChatGPT seems to threaten not just search engines, but also many other professions and upend academics.

ChatGPT, like other such AI products does have its limitations. When I asked it about the James Webb Telescope, its answers were outdated. It admitted ‘I apologize for the outdated information….my training data consists of a snapshot of the internet as it existed up to 2021.’ Since the knowledge of the bot is gleaned from the internet, often the prejudices, biases and misinformation that exist on the internet can reflect in the responses. It can often be wrong and incorrect, as the site of OpenAI warns when you register. Its responses can be oversimplified, and often pretty commonplace.

However, all these problems would be overcome, as the technology and ability of machine learning improves. So where does this march of AI into our space lead us? How is AI going to change our society? These are important questions, that have no easy answer.

It is probably the time for us humans to overcome the limit of commonplace and ordinary. We need to think, ideate and brainstorm to come up with the extraordinary and remarkable in our everyday lives. Let the machines do the routine, average work – we should ensure that what we create is superlative in a way only a human mind can conceive.

Published in The Lokmat Times in English, Hindi and Marathi and The Indian Eye


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