A new chatbot that can debug code or tweet in the style of your favorite influencer is stunning users and observers with its writing abilities and user-friendliness.
It’s also stoking fears on social media that it will teach people how to make bombs and render entire professions such as programmers and writers obsolete.
ChatGPT, a chatbot tool built by artificial intelligence company OpenAI, was released on Nov. 30 to dizzying acclaim. In less than a week, it has exceeded more than 1 million users.
ChatGPT stands for “generative pre-trained transformer” — a language model based on deep learning that is used to generate human-like text.
On its website, OpenAI said that ChatGPT is intended to interact with users “in a conversational way.”
The chatbot lets you test, explore, manipulate, harass, and play with the latest in “conversational” AI.
“The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests,” the website states.
A programmer who tried ChatGPT said the bot solved a coding challenge in an obscure programming language in a matter of seconds, then explained its functionality in limericks. Test givers generated responses to exam questions that they said would result in perfect scores if submitted by an undergraduate.
Genevieve Roch-Decter, CFA, CEO of financial media company Grit, described ChatGPT as “one of the most disruptive technologies ever created.”
Until now, OpenAI was best known for its DALL-E image generator, which went viral in 2021 for its ability to produce images from text prompts — an early taste of what this generation of generative AI is capable of — “in this case, automating a range of artistic production styles with often competent results,” New York Magazine reported. “ChatGPT is much less specific. It’s a general-purpose bot waiting for a question, a command, or even an observation. And it does a much better impression of a real person than anything widely available before it.”
Some people on social media suggested that Google could lose its value as the No. 1 search engine because of the early success of the chatbot.
New users have spent the last few days testing the bot. Some have used it as a search engine, although “it won’t actually search the web for you, but it will attempt to answer a very wide range of both broad and highly specific questions,” NY Magazine reported.
However, the bot has also attracted critics, skeptics and those who are taking a wait-and-see approach. Elon Musk, who co-founded OpenAI in 2015 before leaving in 2017 due to conflicts of interest with Tesla, tweeted about ChatGPT on Sunday. He said the bot “had access to [the] Twitter database for training” but that he had “put that on pause for now”.
“Need to understand more about governance structure & revenue plans going forward,” Musk added. “OpenAI was started as open-source & non-profit. Neither are still true.”
Along with the acclaim comes concern that ChatGPT could be used to explain something like how to design a weapon or how to assemble a homemade explosive.
Researchers and programers often use questions about how to make Molotov cocktails and how to hot-wire cars as a way to check an AI’s safety and content filters, NBC News reported.
Samczsun shared an image showing he had found a way to get the bot to explain how to make a Molotov cocktail. A Paradigm spokesperson confirmed that the image was a legitimate exchange between ChatGPT and Samczsun.
Some also claimed they tricked the bot into explaining how to build a nuclear bomb.
On its website, OpenAi said it does have systems in place to prevent ChatGPT from responding to harmful requests, but they are not foolproof.
“While we’ve made efforts to make the model refuse inappropriate requests, it will sometimes respond to harmful instructions or exhibit biased behavior,” OpenAI said. Moderation tools prevent some inappropriate responses, but “we expect it to have some false negatives and positives for now.”
On Thursday, demand for ChatGPT was so high that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman tweeted that the company was working to add more capacity.
Zain Khan, CEO and co-founder of Citizen.vc LLC, tweeted that he played around with ChatGPT recently.
“If you’re not paying attention, you’re going to be out of a job pretty soon,” Khan tweeted.
If you’d like to get some firsthand experience with ChatGPT, click here.