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What is ChatGPT and how that may impact our lives? | Dr. Amal Punchihewa | Palmerston North

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This article on ChatGPT has been written by me and not by ChatGPT. However, I have used search engines that currently support queries with Artificial Intelligence (AI) based tools. As an educator and researcher in AI, ICT, and digital transformation with 60 years of learning, I present here a concise introduction to ChatGPT and its potential using my signature style of writing.

Before we understand ChatGPT, it is better to know what AI and Chatbots are. Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the emulation of human intelligence in machines such as computers that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. The term may also be applied to any machine that exhibits traits associated with a human mind such as learning and problem-solving.

According to Britannica “Artificial intelligence (AI), is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalise, or learn from experience. Since the development of the digital computer in the 1940s, it has been demonstrated that computers can be programmed to carry out very complex tasks, for example, discovering proofs for mathematical theorems or playing chess—with great proficiency. Still, despite continuing advances in computer processing speed and memory capacity, there are as yet no programs that can match human flexibility over wider domains or in tasks requiring much everyday knowledge. On the other hand, some programs have attained the performance levels of human experts and professionals in performing certain specific tasks, so artificial intelligence in this limited sense is found in applications as diverse as medical diagnosis, computer search engines, and voice or handwriting recognition.”

As humans, we learn from our childhood and build the ability to take action in most cases with an explanation as to why it was done. The actions depend on knowledge, experience and wisdom. Recently, organisations are deploying artificial chatting software that responds to a limited number of commonly asked questions. This is an extension to FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions where a website provides a list of common questions and answers to them. An organisation called OpenAI developed an advanced version of a Chatbot with continuous development like humans in general.

OpenAI Chatbot specialised in handling languages, both natural languages such as English and computer programming languages.

The ultimate aim of artificial intelligence is its ability to rationalise and take actions that have the best chance of achieving a specific goal. A subset of artificial intelligence is machine learning (ML), which refers to the concept that computer programs can automatically learn from and adapt to new data without being assisted by humans. Deep learning (DL) techniques enable this automatic learning through the absorption of huge amounts of unstructured data such as text, images, or video.

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) Chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 families of large language models (LLMs) and has been fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.

While AI technology and products could help humans in many areas, it lacks privacy, ethics, explainability and responsibility. Due to these reasons and other harms, there are discussions around its governance and regulation.

For example, in Italy, ChatGPT was banned. ChatGPT could return to Italy by the end of April 2023 if its maker, OpenAI, complies with measures to satisfy regulators who had imposed a temporary ban on the artificial intelligence software over privacy concerns.

President Joe Biden’s administration wants stronger measures to test the safety of artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT before they are publicly released, though it hasn’t been decided if the government will have a role in doing the vetting.

In addition to the above impacts, it may also bring challenges to the education industry while offering some benefits. As we are already aware, school and university learners are using search engines to find data. They collect data, and if correct, it is useful. If the data collected (mined) from the web is wrong, the learner may not know its correctness as that data has not been audited, or peer-reviewed. Now ChatGPT could write essays, and answer questions that the education system may test. Hence, it is a double-edged sword.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations (UN) organisation specialising in communication, studies and work with its members for developing AI for the betterment of humans by mitigating its ill effects from early stages by understanding its potential and dangers. The project is known as AI4Good which discusses governance, explainability, privacy, impact on the workforce and so on.

Many topics related to ChatGPT and AI such as intelligence, awareness, consciousness, and so on need to be understood beyond its rule-based decision-making. Future articles may discuss some of the topics further. Please keep your brain working while waiting for that information.

By Dr. Amal Punchihewa – Palmerston North

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