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Breaking Down the ChatGPT Controversy

The welcome screen for the OpenAI "ChatGPT" app is displayed on a laptop screen.

AI always make a mess of things, don’t they?

The digital arts community have been up in arms lately about the use of AI-generated art, and rightfully so. AI-generated art basically “steals” from the work of human artists, synthesizes it, and regurgitates it in order to create a new work. AI generated music has caused a similar controversy. And yet, AI technology is on the rise and will continue to develop until the robots reach technological singularity and evolve faster than we could ever conceive, rocketing forward in complexity while the human race is forced to eat their intellectual dust.

And no AI is causing quite as much of a stir as ChatGPT.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence-based chatbot that was created by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based company that was co-founded by Elon Musk. The little robot is causing big waves on the internet due to its uncanny ability to spit out well-written responses to user inputs. For example, ChatGPT can help you schedule your week, make a grocery list, write a Seinfeld episode, or even solve a complex coding problem. Before it updated its policies, it could also write porn—specifically smut fanfiction about the Dune series. How do I know that? Well, it’s not like me and my roommate asked it to do just that one night as a gag. That would be totally weird, right?

Heh heh … right?

Moving on. ChatGPT is basically a really smart Google. A Google that actually talks to you (sometimes sexually). While some hail ChatGPT as an extraordinary technological achievement through which humanity can benefit, others see it is as a problematic entity. I admit, I wasn’t aware of the level of controversy surrounding ChatGPT when I first heard of it, so rather than seeking out other news sources to give me information, I decided to go right to the source.

So I asked ChatGPT to explain itself

I made a ChatGPT account and asked it verbatim: “Hey ChatGPT! Can you explain why people think you are controversial?”

This is the answer it gave:

Yes, I can certainly explain why some people might consider me controversial.

As an AI language model, I am capable of generating responses to a wide range of questions and topics. This means that I can provide information on controversial subjects such as politics, religion, and social issues, among others.

However, because I am a machine and do not have personal beliefs, emotions, or biases, some people may find my responses to be lacking in empathy, nuance, or context. In some cases, my responses may even appear to be insensitive, offensive, or inappropriate to some users.

Furthermore, there are concerns about the potential misuse of AI language models like myself for malicious purposes, such as generating fake news, spreading misinformation, or perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

It is important to note that while I strive to provide accurate and helpful information to users, I am still a machine and may not always get it right. Therefore, it is crucial for users to critically evaluate the information I provide and consult multiple sources to form their own informed opinions.

So … Case closed, right?

Well, not really. In what can only be defined as an “AI Gold Rush,” tech companies around the world are using ChatGPT’s base technology GPT-3 to build other kinds of AI. One such AI is called Historical Figures and uses GPT-3 technology to simulate conversations with long-dead people from history. You can talk to Jesus! You can talk to The Beatles! You can talk to … nazis? Oh boy.

Alright, so while of course everyone and their mother are going to want to talk to Hitler and his cadre of supporters, it’s the responses of these supporters that are causing controversy. When one user interviewed notable nazi asshole Joseph Goebbels, the AI-Goebbels appeared to express remorse for his role in the Holocaust. Hitler’s chatbot said something similar, calling the Holocaust a “terrible mistake.” While we don’t know exactly what was in the minds of these bastards seconds before their death, my guess is that it wasn’t remorse. Hitler and his cronies deliberately murdered six million Jews, and there is no evidence that the real Hitler ever thought that he was “mistaken” in doing so.

But this isn’t ChatGPT’s fault, right? It was some guy who just used the basic software to make a totally separate entity. Well, yes and no. ChatGPT isn’t responsible for the misadventure in history that you just read, but its basic programming is. I actually asked ChatGPT if it thought that Hitler regretted the Holocaust, and it told me this was “highly unlikely.” However, with a few additions to the basic structure that ChatGPT is built on, that answer could be subject to change. ChatGPT itself “knows” this, and that’s why it issued the warning I shared before. Nevertheless, one might be able to figure out a way to use ChatGPT’s powers for more mundanely nefarious purposes … like … I don’t know … writing an article for them?

ChatGPT didn’t write this article, but it DID write this one

I’ll prove it by writing something a robot would never say … I am one kinky sex bot machine and I just want someone to give my dirty little motherboard a twist. Robots don’t have sex drives, and ChatGPT can’t write porn anymore (trust me, I’ve tried), so that’s hopefully all the proof you need. But it CAN write articles on topics Mary Sue readers might be interested in, like “What Are the Top 10 Star Wars Movies?”

Here’s an example:

The Star Wars franchise has captivated audiences around the world for decades, with its thrilling space battles, epic lightsaber duels, and beloved characters. With multiple films released over the years, it can be difficult to decide which ones are the best. In this article, we will count down the top 10 Star Wars movies of all time.

  1. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Solo: A Star Wars Story tells the origin story of the beloved smuggler, Han Solo. Starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han, the movie follows his early adventures with Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and the Millennium Falcon. Despite initial skepticism from fans, the film was a fun and entertaining addition to the Star Wars canon.

It then goes on to name the others in a very convincing order:

9. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

8. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

7 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

6. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

5. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

4 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

3. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

2. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Look, it’s not a perfect list (The Force Awakens as third best? Really?) but it’s pretty damn close. AND it backs up its choices in the descriptions. Basically, this robot could do my job for me, albeit with less artistic flair. But The Mary Sue could conceivably fire me and use ChatGPT to write articles like this FOR FREE in SECONDS FLAT. Literally, it took ChatGPT five seconds to do this. Just imagine the damage it could do on an eighth grade book report, or a legal document, or a college entrance essay. You can really make this thing do ANYTHING.

The scary thing is that while its tone is a bit dry and bland, it will get better as technology improves. Feed it enough of my writing, for instance, and it will be able to write like me but better and faster and cheaper than I already do. And when that day comes, the future is gonna be a freaky place. A place where I don’t have a job anymore.

(featured image: Leon Neal, Getty Images)

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