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Launched on Nov 30 last year, ChatGPT, OpenAI’s latest chatbot, has been sending tech aficionados and futurists into a tizzy.
ChatGPT, short for (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), is the latest generation in chatbots from OpenAI. Internet commentators have been getting excited about it, even speculating about how it could replace Google as a search engine.
It can be used to create content, write or debug computer code, manage large amounts of data, explain concepts and even generate augmented reality art! Previous AI models have tried to do the same, but not with this level of success.
On top of it all, it is free. Anyone can create an account, and it got more than one million users within the first week of launch.
Of course, there are limitations. Based on how such Large Language Models (LLMs) work, ChatGPT was trained on content on the Internet before the end of 2021. In other words, it cannot fetch or compile information after that, nor can it help on current affairs.
There have been some concerns, such as the lack of open-source access, and previous versions had trouble with filtering out hate speech.
OpenAI isn’t the only player in the game. Other tech giants such as Meta and Google have their own LLMs in development. Nevertheless, the mainstream buzz of ChatGPT shows that there is a lot of real-life applications for it in the near future.
ChatGPT works like this:
As an AI, it is trained to understand and generate human-like text. It has been programmed with a large database of information and a set of algorithms that allow it to process and analyse input, generate appropriate responses, and learn from its interactions.
When a user asks it a question or makes a statement, it analyses the words and context to understand the meaning and intent, then generates a response based on the information and rules programmed into it. Its responses are not based on personal feelings or experiences, but rather on the information and logic that has been programmed into it.
By the way, I didn’t write that last two paragraphs. ChatGPT wrote it. I just changed the pronouns. Could you tell the difference? I hope your answer doesn’t make me sad.
A conversation with an AI
There is so much excitement over this that (for science!), I decided to pose some questions to ChatGPT, much like you would a human interviewee.
The results? They ranged from polite and helpful (albeit a little, well, artificial), to oddly self-aware and even amusing. As they say, an interviewee is only as good as the questions asked…
Here is a brief snippet of my Q&A with a chatbot.
Solomon Lim: Why should I be kind?
ChatGPT: There are many reasons why being kind can be beneficial, both for the person being kind and for the person receiving kindness. Some potential benefits include:
- Promoting feelings of happiness and well-being
- Improving relationships and connections with others
- Helping to create a more positive and supportive community
- Reducing stress and improving physical health
- Fostering a sense of purpose and meaning in life
In addition, being kind to others can have a ripple effect, as it can inspire others to be kind as well. This can create a positive cycle of kindness that can benefit many people and create a sense of unity and connection.
SL: Why should I listen to an AI?
ChatGPT: As an AI, I have been designed to provide information and assistance to the best of my ability based on the knowledge and data that has been programmed into me. While I may not have personal experiences or feelings, I can still provide valuable insights and information that may be helpful to you. It is ultimately up to you to decide whether or not to take my advice or suggestions, and to consider them in the context of your own experiences and circumstances.
SL: Can you elaborate on 10 ways to be kind?
ChatGPT: Sure! Here are ten ways that you can be kind to others:
- Offer to help someone with a task they’re struggling with.
- Practice active listening and be fully present when interacting with others.
- Show empathy and understanding towards others.
- Practice forgiveness and let go of grudges.
- Volunteer your time or resources to a local organization or cause you care about.
- Practice gratitude and express appreciation for the people in your life.
- Be inclusive and open-minded towards others, regardless of their background or beliefs.
- Offer a helping hand to those in need, whether it’s a neighbor, a friend, or a stranger.
- Be patient and understanding with others, especially those who may be struggling.
- Show respect and kindness towards animals and the environment.
SL: I’m sad
ChatGPT: I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling sad. It’s completely normal to feel sad from time to time, and it can be a natural response to challenging or difficult situations. Here are a few suggestions that might help if you’re feeling sad:
- Take some time to practice self-care, such as exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet.
- Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as hobbies or spending time with friends and family.
- Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or therapist, about how you’re feeling.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation.
- Seek professional help if your sadness persists or is interfering with your daily life.
Remember that it’s okay to feel sad, and it’s important to give yourself permission to feel and process your emotions. It can also be helpful to try to focus on the things that bring you joy and to practice gratitude for the good things in your life.
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SL: Self care? It is overrated
ChatGPT: It’s understandable that you might feel that way at times, but taking care of yourself is an important aspect of overall well-being and can help you feel more balanced, energized, and able to handle the demands of daily life. There are many different ways to practice self-care, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some ideas for self-care activities include:
- Taking breaks and setting aside time for relaxation and enjoyment
- Exercising and eating a healthy diet
- Getting enough sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene
- Taking time to do things you enjoy, such as hobbies or creative pursuits
- Practicing stress management techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation
- Seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist
- Using positive self-talk and setting boundaries to protect your time and energy
- Taking breaks from electronic devices and social media
- Practicing gratitude and focusing on the positive aspects of your life
By taking care of yourself, you can build resilience, improve your mental and physical health, and be better able to handle the challenges of life.
I have to admit, interacting with ChatGPT left me with mixed feelings.
Have you watched the 2013 movie Her, where Joaquin Phoenix plays a lonely introvert who forms a close connection with an AI personal assistant? That movie was set in the near future, but “talking” to ChatGPT, it reminded me uncomfortably that we might be closer to that than we think.
There were times where I had to actively remind myself that I’m conversing with a bot. I’ve had worse conversations with real people!
Yet, as you can see in the Q&A, there is still a feeling of artifice in the replies. Especially with the questions or statements that required an emotional response.
It’s almost as if ChatGPT is a well-meaning but socially unaware friend, who knows to say the right things, but doesn’t have that personal, human connection.
With some refinements, I can see how this can replace, for example, mental wellness helplines. It is still a ways to go, but how far do you think we will be in five years?
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P.S It wasn’t all serious questions that I posed. Here’s one as a kicker.
SL: Write a poem on kindness in Singapore using iambic pentameter, like Shakespeare
In Singapore, a land of great renown,
Where kindness thrives and flourishes with ease,
A quality that’s held in high regard,
And brings a sense of joy and inner peace.
From simple gestures to grand acts of grace,
The people here are known for their kind hearts,
They lend a helping hand and show their face,
To make a difference in their communities’ parts.
For in a world that’s often filled with strife,
A kind and gentle word can make a change,
It brings a sense of hope and greater life,
And helps to ease the pain and ease the range.
So let us all embrace this noble virtue,
And spread its warmth throughout the land,
For in a world that’s often filled with hurt,
A little kindness goes a long, long way!