AI experts on whether you should be “terrified” of ChatGPT

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence that writes for you, any kind of writing you like – letters, song lyrics, research papers, recipes, therapy sessions, poems, essays, plans, even software code. And despite its clunky name (GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer), within five days of its launch, over a million people were using it.

Is it easy to use?

Try typing, “Write a limerick on the effect of AI on humanity.”

Once upon a time there was such a great AI, It could help us with the tasks at hand, But it could also do harm, If its actions lack charm, So we must use it with care and command.

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Or how about, “Tell the story of Goldilocks in the style of the King James Bible.”

And it came to pass, at that time, that a certain young damsel named Goldilocks wandered into the abode of three bears, which was far from home...

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Microsoft announced that it would build the program in Microsoft Word. The first books written by ChatGPT have already been published. (Good, self-published, by people.)

“I think it’s huge,” said Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, director of Stanford University’s Digital Economy Lab. “I wouldn’t be surprised if 50 years from now people look back and say, wow, that was a really landmark set of inventions that happened in the early 2020s.

“Most of the American economy is knowledge and information-based, and that’s who will be most directly affected by that,” he said. “I would put people like lawyers at the top of the list. Obviously a lot of editors, screenwriters. But I like to use the word ‘affected’, not ‘replaced’, because I think if it’s done right , it’s not going to be AI replacing lawyers; it’s going to be lawyers working with AI replacing lawyers not working with AI.”

But not everyone is happy.

Timnit Gebru, an AI researcher specializing in the ethics of AI, said, “I think we should be really terrified of all of this.”

ChatGPT learned to write by examining millions of writings on the Internet. Unfortunately, believe it or not, not everything on the internet is true! “We haven’t learned to understand what is fact, what is fiction or anything like that,” Gebru said. “It’ll just be kind of a parrot of what was on the internet.”

Indeed, he sometimes spits while writing that sounds authoritative and confident, but is completely wrong:

The first female President of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton, served as the 45th President of the United States from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2025.

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And then there is the problem of voluntary disinformation. Experts worry that people are using ChatGPT to flood social media with bogus articles that look professional, or to bury Congress with “popular” letters that look genuine.

Gebru said, “We should understand the harms before we proliferate something everywhere, and mitigate those risks before we put something like this out there.”

But no one can be more distressed than the teachers. And here’s why:

“Write an English class essay on race in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.'”

At Harper Lee's

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Some students are already using ChatGPT to cheat. No wonder ChatGPT has been called “The End of High School English”, “The End of the College Essay”, and “The Return of the Classroom Handwritten Essay”.

Someone using ChatGPT doesn’t need to know structure or syntax or vocabulary or grammar or even spelling. But Jane Rosenzweig, director of the Harvard Writing Center, said: “What also worries me, though, is the article on thinking. When we teach writing, we teach people to explore an idea, understand what other people have said about that idea, and understand what they or they Think about it. A machine can do the part where it puts ideas on paper, but it can’t do the part where it puts your ideas on paper.”

School systems in Seattle and New York have banned ChatGPT; so have some colleges. Rosenzweig said: “The idea that we ban it comes up against something bigger than all of us, which is to say that it will soon be all over. It will be in word processing programs. It will be on all machines.”


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Some educators try to figure out how to work with ChatGPT, to let it generate the first draft. But Rosenzweig retorts: “Our students will cease to be writers and they will become publishers.

“My first reaction to this was: are we doing this because ChatGPT exists? Or are we doing this because it’s better than other things we’ve already done?” she says.

OpenAI, the company that launched the program, declined interview requests from “Sunday Morning”, but issued a statement:

“We don’t want ChatGPT to be used for any misleading purpose – in schools or elsewhere. Our policy states that when sharing content, all users must clearly indicate that it is AI generated” in a way that no one could reasonably miss or misunderstand. ‘ and we are already developing a tool to help anyone identify text generated by ChatGPT.”

They talk about an algorithmic “watermark”, an invisible flag embedded in ChatGPT’s script, which can identify its source.

There are ChatGPT detectors, but they probably won’t stand a chance against the upcoming new version, ChatGPT 4, which has been trained on 500 times more writes. People who have seen it say it is miraculous.

Erik Brynjolfsson of Stanford said: “A very experienced person at OpenAI, he basically described it as a phase change. You know, it’s like going from water to steam. It’s just a whole different ability level.”

Like it or not, AI writing is here to stay.

Brynjolfsson suggests we embrace it: “I think we’re going to have potentially the best decade of creative flourishing we’ve ever had, because a whole bunch of people, a lot more people than before, are going to be able to contribute to our collective art and science.”

But maybe we should let ChatGPT have the last words.

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For more information:

Story produced by Sara Kugel. Publisher: Lauren Barnello.

See also:

Art created by artificial intelligence


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