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Glimpsing into the future with ChatGPT

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

✦ “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” - Albert Einstein

We’ve all seen science fiction movies depicting a future when robots and technology are omnipresent, influencing our everyday lives both positively and negatively. From Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Edgar in Electric Dreams, David in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, K.I.T.T in Knight Rider, replicants in Blade Runner, Samantha in Her, through to depictions in Ex Machina, WALL-E and The Terminator franchise. As developments in technology have accelerated at an incredible pace over the past few decades, such visions of the future depicted on the silver screen are fast becoming a reality.

Unless you’ve been living in a hole in the middle of the desert for the past year or so, chances are you will no doubt be familiar with the term ChatGPT, even if you’re not completely sure what it actually is or what it does.

Launched by the American Artificial Intelligence (AI) research laboratory OpenAI in partnership with Microsoft in November last year, ChatGPT combines “Chat”, referring to its chatbot functionality, and “GPT”, which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, a type of large language model.
GPT Chat has become a new breakthrough in recent years as featured in Brilliant-Online
ChatGPT has become a new breakthrough in recent years

Put simply, ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that uses natural language processing to create humanlike conversational dialogue. Able to mimic other writing styles, it uses the internet as its database and training ground to create long-form, auto-generated content. It can interpret concepts, understand language nuances and provide detailed answers and is predicted to disrupt a whole range of industries such as healthcare, technology, media, legal, transportation, logistics, mining, education and finance.

Interest is red hot with the likes of tech behemoth Google jumping on the band wagon to create their own variations. Swiss banking giant UBS declared ChatGPT the fastest-growing consumer application in history when it reached 100 million registered users in January. CNN ran an article in February with the headline: “The way we search for information online is about to change”. However, it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to work out that the ramifications are potentially extremely complex and therefore should we be asking the question of whether it is a good thing or a threat?

‘Profound risks’

While impressive, there are certainly many concerns relating to ChatGPT, including security breaches, privacy concerns, the sharing of undisclosed data, misinformation and bias, and the potential impact on people’s careers and thus livelihoods.

In early April, Italy became the first country in the world to ban ChatGPT. Variety Online quotes the Italian government watchdog’s claims that OpenAI “has been illegally gathering personal data from Italian customers involving ChatGPT ‘users’ conversations’ and information about subscriber payments and did not have an age-verification system in place, exposing children to responses from the chatbot that are ‘absolutely inappropriate to their age and awareness’.”

There are many concerns relating to ChatGPT, including security breaches, privacy concerns, the sharing of undisclosed data, misinformation and bias as featured in Brilliant-Online
There are many concerns relating to ChatGPT, including security breaches, privacy concerns, the sharing of undisclosed data, misinformation and bias

OpenAI worked with regulators to resolve the issue by limiting the use of the app to people over the age of 18 or 13 only with guardian permission, but clearly it raised a prominent red flag. The same article describes how “a group of more than 1,000 U.S. scientists and tech leaders including Elon Musk, who is an OpenAI co-founder, signed an open letter urging a moratorium on the development of the most powerful artificial intelligence systems saying that they pose ‘profound risks to society and humanity’ unless safety policies are implemented.”

The provision of false information from ChatGPT is also a concern. In late May, a New York-based lawyer landed in hot water for using the tool for legal research on a case. However, stating one filing used to reference example legal cases that did not exist, the Judge handed a down a court hearing to the lawyer himself for his misdemeanor, despite the latter’s protestations that he was completely “unaware that its content could be false.”

In January, New York City Schools, the largest school department in the US, blocked student and teacher access to ChatGPT on its devices and networks due to “negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of content.”

A lot of fake data and information from invalid sources is one of the chatGPT problems as featured in Brilliant-Online
Fake data and information from invalid sources are two of the main challenges for ChatGPT

Indeed, the education sector is one that AI, and ChatGPT in particular, poses a serious threat to with genuine concerns of students cheating by using the tool to generate their reports and essays, leading to a deterioration of educational skills, learning capacity and overall standards. Forbes describes how 51% of college students in the United States believe that using AI tools like ChatGPT to complete assignments and exams is cheating. A recent poll stated that 72% of college professors and 58% of grade school educators are concerned about ChatGPT’s impact on cheating. The same study shows that over 89% of students have used ChatGPT to help with a homework assignment.

However, while negatives will always be highlighted, conversely there will be benefits. With the example of education, advocates of the tool are quick to point to the fact that students can freely turn to internet search engines like Google to generate significant portions of their educational content and that ChatGPT is merely fine tuning and accelerating its convenience and effectiveness. It had led to calls for the tool not to be banned outright in the classroom but to be used as a resource to complement existing learning techniques.

‘Existential risk’

Technology has always resulted in the loss of jobs but maybe the time of AI led tutoring isn’t that far away after all. Other vocations facing seemingly inevitable disruption include paralegals, lawyers, copywriters, journalists, personal assistants and programmers.

The World Economic Forum cautions that significant job losses attributed to AI development and deployment in the work place and US banking giant Goldman Sachs has recent breakthroughs in AI could lead to the automation of around 300 million full-time jobs, with lawyers and administrative staff among those affected.

SBS News recently profiled how Ultimate Edge Communications, a Sydney-based marketing communications company, advertising for a ChatGPT prompt editor has provided a direct glimpse into the future of AI in the workplace. While traditionally the role would be for a copywriter, the ad posted on popular job platform SEEK was clear in its intent when it said, “THE WORLD HAS CHANGED - we are NOT looking for someone to write copy from scratch. Those days are gone.” SEEK confirmed it was one of the first roles to mention ChatGPT specifically, a seemingly ominous indication for the future of copywriters and similarly-skilled workers.

Technology has always resulted in the loss of jobs as featured in Brilliant-Online
Technology has always resulted in the loss of jobs

However, ultimately, the role of human interaction is still crucial, as the example above demonstrates. ChatGPT still requires the human touch for it to function in the real world and it cannot use human knowledge and understanding to think through decisions and strategies - not yet, anyway!

There is no doubt that AI will bring benefits to the workplace as businesses can automate repetitive tasks, improve customer engagement and experiential satisfaction, create customised content and respond to complex search queries with accuracy and efficiency, which can all have a significantly positive impact on a company’s P&L. Just like so many forms of technological advancement before it, the use of AI is inevitable and unstoppable.

However, perhaps it pays to conclude by turning to a man that truly knows the subject. Geoffrey Hinton, a British computer scientist described as the godfather of AI, quit his job at Google in early May as he warned about the impact of the technology on the jobs market and the “existential risk” posed by the creation of a true digital intelligence. In a statement to The New York Times the 75-year-old said he now regretted his work, cautioning that “bad actors” who would try to use AI for “bad things”. In a further interview with the BBC he warned that the dangers of AI chatbots were “quite scary”. “Right now, they’re not more intelligent than us, as far as I can tell,” he said. “But I think they soon may be.”

There is a lot of goodness in using AI technology but it always has to be under human control as featured in Brilliant-Online
There are boundless potential advantages using AI technology but it always has to be under human control

Speaking last month with KDLG Public Radio, Hinton warned, “This isn't just a science fiction problem. This is a serious problem that’s probably going to arrive fairly soon, and politicians need to be thinking about what to do about it now.

“These things could get more intelligent than us and could decide to take over, and we need to worry now about how we prevent that happening.”

We have been warned...

Our take on ChatGPT, AI and other emerging technologies

"Nobody should just jump into technology, in this case ChatGPT or AI, just because they think everyone is on that particular bandwagon, be that an individual or a business. Rather, it's a good idea to really think about the inspiration and why your idea and purpose can truly benefit your business or even humankind - where technology and AI can help you enable that idea." - Veronica Lind, CEO Brilliant-Online

Do you use ChatGPT at work, school or home? Tell us about your experience. Write to us.


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