Intelligent bots

January 28, 2023

OpenAI’s artificial intelligence-based chatbot service, ChatGPT, has garnered a huge and varied response, from Silicon Valley to big media houses.

ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM) that can assist in a wide range of tasks. It will help write essays, poetry, news articles; compose emails; and write codes. While the technology itself is not new, the fact that the model has been improved so that it can talk in natural dialogue and is available for free makes it accessible to a huge audience; this was not possible previously.

Developed by Open AI – a company financed by Elon Musk, Sam Altman and other Silicon Valley notables in 2015 – ChatGPT has been trained on vast amounts of data that allows it to accurately predict conversations. Its prospective applications are complex and numerous. According to Microsoft, the “possibilities are limited only by the ideas and scenarios we bring to the table.”

However, the technology promises to be a double-edged sword. While on the one hand, it opens up an endless world of possibilities, on the other, it could replace even creative jobs that were once thought to be immune to the threat of AI. The tech site CNET has supposedly used ChatGPT to generate several feature articles for its website, raising alarm bells in the media community. Newspaper jobs have already been shrinking and the use of AI to write stories may well worsen the situation.

Ammaar Reshi, a product designer in San Francisco, reportedly used ChatGPT to write a children’s book in 72 hours. He used Midjourney, an AI art generator, to illustrate it and self-published it on Amazon. The entire process cost him nothing and was completed in one weekend. However, the response was unexpected and heated. He was bombarded by hate messages from authors and other artists. Their perspective was that these programmes are a threat to the artistic community as they take inspiration from their work without giving credit or payment.

Schools and colleges in the US are considering banning the use of ChatGPT as it can help complete homework assignments and write college essays. In this new world of AI, good writing skills may no longer be a distinguishing factor for students.

“It’s a new world. Goodbye homework!” tweeted Elon Musk after concerns about ChatGPT plagiarism caught steam. After his initial investment in the technology, Musk has since distanced himself from its development, citing concerns about an existential threat to humanity from the unchecked development of AI, without proper safeguards. “We need to be super careful with AI as they are potentially more dangerous than nukes,” he warns. Unless advancements in AI are contained within the framework of carefully thought out and robust regulations, it could lead to unimaginable consequences, as AI develops to match and even overtake human intelligence.

We stand at a crossroads today. The international community must decide whether to regulate advancements in AI under strict international protocols or let science take its course. For we all know that once the genie is out of the bottle, it cannot be put back again.

The writer is a freelance contributor.