April 18, 2023

Can We Handle ChatGPT?

The innovation and possibilities are incredible, but humans have a way of misusing such things.

Launched just a few months ago in November 2022, ChatGPT has exploded in popularity and approval. Its now 100 million users are doing with it what today’s society does with every new technological advancement — finding as many possible ways to substitute legitimate human effort with automation and convenience.

The “GPT” in ChatGPT stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. It can generate entirely new content and the data to support it, as opposed to being limited to creating content from data that already exists. The endless possibilities of usefulness are already being realized amongst everyday consumers, as new ideas for how it can be incorporated into our everyday lives are being tested through questions and tasks that are unique to each person.

When a household requires both parents to work full-time jobs to make ends meet, the responsibility of meeting every need of your young children can be exhausting. The idea of being able to designate the draining nightly fight over homework or the tiresome expectation of an entertaining bedtime story to a mechanized household assistant — one who is not burdened by a tired mind or body or the impatience of an overworked parent — would be a dream come true for most of today’s families.

One particular father of two wholeheartedly embraced the relief ChatGPT offered, as he was able to provide specific instructions through its chat feature about the type of story his four- and six-year-old girls would like to hear — including the names of characters, the scenic setting for the adventure, and even a moral lesson for the storyline. Within minutes, his girls were engrossed in a custom fairytale, and Dad was granted a stress-free evening with a perfect end to the day.

This feature alone would be a selling point in most households, and there is likely little that could convince strained parents not to incorporate this tool of magic into their daily routine.

However, the potential to achieve the convenience and alleviation of stress that most of today’s society is desperate for is far beyond that of simple bedtime stories and parental assistance.

Students from high school to college are already capitalizing on the advantages of technology that can hatch original material out of thin air, as they readily hand off their homework to this new, virtual, much smarter, and much more efficient classmate. They provide the requirements of their writing assignment to ChatGPT, including the topic, the length, and the grade level to which the project needs to match, and within minutes they are given a perfect essay to hand in to their teacher or professor, who would be unable to determine who actually authored its text.

ChatGPT is being used by pastors to create moving Sunday sermons, the unemployed to format an impressive résumé, and engaged couples to pen their wedding vows. According to tech giant Bill Gates, he challenged Open A.I. to “train an artificial intelligence to pass an Advanced Placement biology exam.” The bot subsequently aced 59 of the 60 questions.

What we are seeing develop at a rapid pace right before our eyes is impressive. We will all be able to point to this moment in history and brag of our firsthand accounts of these monumental innovations. Yet the cause for concern is real, and the potential for abuse by elitists, who have shown their hunger for total control, should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind going forward.

Though a founding member of the company behind this extraordinary system, Elon Musk has joined with a group of experts in calling for a six-month pause on the development of these advanced A.I. models. He expressed deep concern for its potential to progress beyond our control and warned of the “profound risk to society and humanity” if not managed with integrity and neutrality.

As a modern culture, technology has become something of an appendage, and our challenge will be to proceed with prudence and to resist the temptation to sacrifice the hard work of being human to the illusion of relief that a virtual being offers.

If ever the words “things are not always what they seem” were applicable, today’s expansion and accessibility of A.I. makes a perfect case in point.

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