The Internet is abuzz with OpenAI's ChatGPT. In watching others, and reading about the output, I find a few thoughts come to mind.
The first is curiosity with the input. The training material. Any machine learning algorithm requires a set of data to build its library, or really a matrix of numbers. The dataset matters greatly. It's been said OpenAI crawled the open Internet for content to feed the algorithms. What's on the open Internet? Everything. Some licensed freely and some not. We'll let this sit in our minds for a few moments as we continue along.
The second thought is around its output. It confidently responds with a belief in its own accuracy. Can it do this? No, but the responses convince the human behind the keyboard that it's correct. The responses need to be checked, verified, and confirmed independently from the bot itself.
One way to look at the responses and outputs is that they are the average of human output. I'm reminded by reading experts in the machine learning field that the most advanced AI/ML is as smart as a chicken. ChatGPT output has had some very nice results. It's astonishing to see the responses to writing code, philosophical questions, and of course, homework questions. I think part of the astonishment is that many people are exposed to new areas of knowledge. Ask a PhD student in the forestry economy of modern British Columbia about their area of research, and they can go on for hours about the nuances of it all. Ask them what happened to the Royal Family of the UK last week, and it's all amazing because they haven't thought about it.
A concern is that ChatGPT is now being trained on its own output, which will likely lower the mean. The average response will become less impressive, as it feeds upon its own output. Without strong input from OpenAI, ChatGPT could devolve into Idiocracy.
ChatGPT is a tool, like any tool, the output is tied to one who wields it. The same hammer and chisel that carved Rodan's sculptures could easily scrape old crust off a vintage table from the consignment shop. While the quality of tools matter to a point, the handler is the largest influence on their output. It's a statistical model regurgitating the average responses to the presented content. You can continue to make money and build a business on this average response, for sure. However, for now, this is not the world-changing AI we've been promised for decades.
In other words, like Clever Hans, ChatGPT is a very slick parlour trick, at this point.