Analysing The Political Economy

How Chat GBT Can Be So Wrong

OpenAI and ChatGPT is all over the news. It’s a new craze and millions have opened accounts since its official public launch just two months ago. The FT reports that – “Microsoft has confirmed a “multimillion-dollar investment” in ChatGPT bot maker OpenAI, making its biggest bet yet that artificial intelligence systems have the power to transform the tech giant’s business model and products.

The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that the frenzy continues with – “OpenAI, the research lab behind the viral ChatGPT chatbot, is in talks to sell existing shares in a tender offer that would value the company at around $29 billion.”

You know that when a tech company is valued at $29 billion and hasn’t made a penny in revenue that one of two things will happen – it will go north in value or south. We’ll all be wishing we had invested like those early adopters did with Google or Apple or thanking our lucky stars we didn’t as many bankrupts will be reflecting over Cryptos.

The Brookings Institute explains what OpenAI and ChatGPT are in the first paragraph of an article that asks – is it a friend or foe?

The latest challenge to the creative human intellect was introduced on November 30th, 2022 by OpenAI. ChatGPT is a conversational bot responsive to users’ questions in ways that allows it to search large databases and to create well-formed essays, legal briefs, poetry in the form of Shakespeare, computer code, or lyrics in the form of Rogers and Hammerstein, to name a few. As New York Times writer Kevin Roose commented, “ChatGPT is, quite simply, the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public.”

To test this all-new super-duper intelligent system I asked ChatGPT a very simple question that was very widely reported all over the world: “Explain how Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister of the UK”. Here is the response that took just 18 seconds to appear:

Rishi Sunak became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on February 13, 2020, after his predecessor, Boris Johnson, resigned due to health reasons. Sunak, who was previously the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was appointed as the leader of the Conservative Party and thus became the Prime Minister. He was elected leader of the Conservative party in a leadership contest on Feb 13, 2020. It is worth noting that the position of Prime Minister in the UK is not directly elected by the people, but rather is appointed by the reigning monarch, who chooses the person most likely to be able to command the confidence of the House of Commons.

Leaving aside the fact that Rishi Sunak did not actually become PM until 25th October 2022, he did so after Liz Truss. Boris Johnson did not resign over health problems but was sacked by his own party for his own misbehaviour. The errors in this one paragraph keep coming, as you can see.

Indeed, this response is so wildly out of sync with the basic facts, as to be complete nonsense. This mix of facts and fiction is called an “hallucination” as some scientists call it, and easily be quite dangerous when it comes to something like providing medical advice as many Google users have done.

In addition, some users have found out how ChatGPT can generate some terrible answers. For example, some answers that discriminate against women or are extremely harmful to a range of minority groups.

As the old saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and OpenAI holds a lot of power. It’s the first of the global AI companies to truly shake up the world with not one, but multiple AI models, including Dall-E 2, GPT-3, and now, ChatGPT.

The lesson here is caution. OpenAI is still in its learning stage. It chooses what data is used to train ChatGPT and how it deals with the negative consequences. No doubt, it will continue to develope this technology – but the point to think about here is it is doing so according to its own goals.

Will OpenAI and ChatGPT be as disruptive and life changing as Google was? Only time will tell, of course. But probably.

Google’s success originated in one simple insight. In the late 1990s the sprawling, chaotic mass of material that was cascading onto the world wide web needed to be tamed by ranking search results according to their popularity. OpenAI’s and ChatGPT’s task is to deliver the same but without the junk such as paid content, the placement of click-baiters or the deliberate posting of misinformation and disinformation.



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