Since Open AI released its blockbuster bot ChatGPT in November, the tool has sparked ongoing casual experiments, including some by Insider reporters trying to simulate news stories or message potential dates.
To older millennials who grew up with IRC chat rooms — a text instant message system — the personal tone of conversations with the bot can evoke the experience of chatting online. But ChatGPT, the latest in technology known as “large language model tools,” doesn’t speak with sentience and doesn’t “think” the way people do.
That means that even though ChatGPT can explain quantum physics or write a poem on command, a full AI takeover is not imminent, according to experts.
“There’s a large number of monkeys here, giving you things that are impressive — but there is intrinsically a difference between the way that humans produce language, and the way that large language models do it,” he said.
“There’s a saying that an infinite number of monkeys will eventually give you Shakespeare,” said Matthew Sag, a law professor at Emory University who studies copyright implications for training and using large language models like ChatGPT.
Chatbots like GPT are powered by large amounts of data and computing techniques to make predictions about stringing words together in a meaningful way. They not only tap into a vast amount of vocabulary and information but also understand words in context. This helps them mimic speech patterns while dispatching encyclopedic knowledge.
Some recent efforts to use chatbots for real-world service have proved troubling — with odd results. The mental health company Koko came under fire this month after its founder wrote about how the company used GPT-3 in an experiment to reply to users.
Other tech companies like Google and Meta have developed their own large language model tools, which use programs that respond to human prompts and devise sophisticated responses. Open AI, in a revolutionary move, also created a user interface that is letting the general public experiment with it directly.
Other researchers seem to be taking more measured approaches with generative AI tools. Daniel Linna Jr., a professor at Northwestern University who works with the non-profit Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, researches the effectiveness of technology in the law. He told Insider he’s helping to experiment with a chatbot called “Rentervention,” which is meant to support tenants.
The bot currently uses technology like Google Dialogueflow, another large language model tool. Linna said he’s experimenting with ChatGPT to help “Rentervention” come up with better responses and draft more detailed letters while gauging its limitations.