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Why ChatGPT Is Not Dependable


I’ll begin with the straightforward truth: ChatGPT shouldn’t be a dependable answerer of questions.

To attempt to clarify why from scratch could be a heavy carry, however luckily, Stephen Wolfram has already executed the heavy lifting for us in his article, “What’s ChatGPT Doing… and Why Does It Work?” [1] In a PF thread discussing this text, I attempted to summarize as briefly as I may the important thing message of Wolfram’s article. Here’s what I mentioned in my put up there [2]:

ChatGPT doesn’t make use of the meanings of phrases in any respect. All it’s doing is producing textual content phrase by phrase primarily based on relative phrase frequencies in its coaching knowledge. It’s utilizing correlations between phrases, however that’s not the identical as correlations within the underlying data that the phrases signify (a lot much less causation). ChatGPT actually has no concept that the phrases it strings collectively signify something.

In different phrases, ChatGPT shouldn’t be designed to really reply questions or present data. In truth, it’s explicitly designed not to do these issues, as a result of, as I mentioned within the quote above, it solely works with phrases in themselves; it doesn’t work with, and doesn’t even have any idea of, the data that the phrases signify. And that makes it unreliable, by design.

So, to provide some examples of misconceptions that I’ve encountered: while you ask ChatGPT a query that you simply would possibly suppose could be answerable by a Google Search, ChatGPT is not doing that. Once you ask ChatGPT a query that you simply would possibly suppose could be answerable by trying in a database (as Wolfram Alpha, for instance, does while you ask it one thing like “what’s the distance from New York to Los Angeles?”), ChatGPT is not doing that. And so forth, for any worth of “which you would possibly suppose could be answerable by…”. And the identical is true in the event you substitute “on the lookout for data in its coaching knowledge” for any of the above: the truth that, for instance, there are an enormous physique of posts on Instagram in ChatGPT’s coaching knowledge doesn’t imply that in the event you ask it a query about Instagram posts, it is going to have a look at these posts in its coaching knowledge and analyze them so as to reply the query. It gained’t. Whereas there’s, in fact, voluminous data in ChatGPT’s coaching knowledge for a human reader, ChatGPT doesn’t use, and even comprehend, any of that data. Actually all it will get from its coaching knowledge is relative phrase frequencies.

So why do ChatGPT responses appear like they’re dependable? Why do they appear like they should be coming from a course of that “is aware of” the data concerned? As a result of our cognitive techniques are designed to interpret issues that method. Once we see textual content that seems to be syntactically, grammatically appropriate and appears like it’s confidently asserting one thing, we assume that it will need to have been produced, if not by an precise human, at the least by an “AI” that’s producing the textual content primarily based on some form of precise information. In different phrases, ChatGPT fools our cognitive techniques into attributing qualities to it that it doesn’t even have.

This safety gap, if you’ll, in our cognitive techniques shouldn’t be a current discovery. Human con artists have made use of a lot the identical methods all through human historical past. The one distinction with the human con artists is that they have been doing it deliberately, whereas ChatGPT has no intentions in any respect and is doing it as a aspect impact of its design. However the finish result’s a lot the identical: let the reader beware.

[1] https://writings.stephenwolfram.com/2023/02/what-is-chatgpt-doing-and-why-does-it-work/

[2] https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/stephen-wolfram-explains-how-chatgpt-works.1050431/post-6903906

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