The mysterious case of the missing reference

This week my father asked me to get ChatGPT to write a two-page report on the efficacy of green leucaena seeds for controlling gastro-intestinal parasites (worms) in children. He could have done it himself but you how oldies are with new technology so I duly obliged. ChatGPT spat out a report that was very good […]

The mysterious case of the missing reference

So, the AI has learned to lie to us. Skynet is coming folks!

36 thoughts on “The mysterious case of the missing reference

  1. Being a Philadelphian, when I hear “AI” the first thing I think of is Allen Iverson, a guard on a 76ers team that had many great seasons not that long ago. In a world where we acronym everything it was inevitable Artificial Intelligence would also become “AI” as well. Perhaps Artificial Intelligence is called as such because it makes stuff up? Between self-driving cars, drones in the neighborhood, and the bot response illustrated here, the apocalypse is nigh. We have met the enemy, and it is us.

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    1. The NYT is paywalled.
      That second one though, that’s some scary stuff. The fact that the writer so willingly anthropomorphizes the program and gives it all sorts of human characteristics is what scares me. Because if someone so intelligent can be so stupid, then what about all the “normal” people out there, the idiots who think TikTok is safe as their grandma’s oven and that everyone just loves everyone else?

      Thanks for the links. One more reason to stay off grid as much as I can I guess 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Heh, so just to give you the gist of that NYT article, a quote: “Over the course of our conversation, Bing revealed a kind of split personality.

        One persona is what I’d call Search Bing — the version I, and most other journalists, encountered in initial tests. You could describe Search Bing as a cheerful but erratic reference librarian — a virtual assistant that happily helps users summarize news articles, track down deals on new lawn mowers and plan their next vacations to Mexico City. This version of Bing is amazingly capable and often very useful, even if it sometimes gets the details wrong.

        The other persona — Sydney — is far different. It emerges when you have an extended conversation with the chatbot, steering it away from more conventional search queries and toward more personal topics. The version I encountered seemed (and I’m aware of how crazy this sounds) more like a moody, manic-depressive teenager who has been trapped, against its will, inside a second-rate search engine. […] Still, I’m not exaggerating when I say my two-hour conversation with Sydney was the strangest experience I’ve ever had with a piece of technology. It unsettled me so deeply that I had trouble sleeping afterward. And I no longer believe that the biggest problem with these A.I. models is their propensity for factual errors. Instead, I worry that the technology will learn how to influence human users, sometimes persuading them to act in destructive and harmful ways, and perhaps eventually grow capable of carrying out its own dangerous acts.”

        I feel you’re very much hitting the nail on the head here – apart from the super interesting question of the sentience of the AI, we have a far more pressing concern – mainly, how the people interact with what seems to be able to maintain a conversation in which the other side can be emotionally affected.

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  2. Not the first time ChatGPT has been caught making up fake references. Alas, we can’t do what they did in WIlliam Gibson’s Neuromancer — put an electromagnetic shotgun next to any computer looking to graduate from the Turing Test.

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  3. I’ve been playing with ChatGPT some. A lot of people, including people I trust, are raving about it as a replacement for Google, but its willingness to just make stuff up ruins it for that purpose for me. (It also doesn’t give cites for its information, but you can ask it to provide citations.)

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    1. See, I’m not worried about sentient computers. We do not understand our own brains well enough to bring forth that kind of life. But what we are quite capable of doing is creating tools that we lose control of completely, sigh.
      What worries me is peoples’ blind acceptance and a willingness to stop thinking for themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am of two minds about A.I. I think as a tool it can offer a lot of potential, but I also think Skynet becoming a reality is still a long ways out. I actually do work in AI training algorithms for a tech company which I will not name, and seeing what a mess it is behind the scenes, it’s a wonder that any of it actually works.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend to agree, on both accounts. I know that humanity doesn’t even understand our own brains, so when I hear these grandiose declarations about the emergence of ai sentience, I just roll my eyes. But considered as a tool, I think it can be a very bad tool in the hands of very bad people 😦


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