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Gaining a Realistic Perspective: Addressing the Concerns of ChatGPT and Generative AI

July 5, 2023

ChatGPT, undoubtedly a powerful tool, has garnered attention for its ability to generate human-like responses. However, it is important to acknowledge the limitations and concerns associated with its usage. Among these concerns, the ability of ChatGPT to fabricate information or distort context is particularly worrisome. This drawback raises doubts about the reliability and accuracy of its responses.

Paradoxically, the more one interacts with ChatGPT, the more apparent these limitations become. It is through extensive usage that users begin to realize the pitfalls of relying solely on its outputs. In order to navigate through the hype and fully comprehend the capabilities and boundaries of ChatGPT, a path that encourages more usage, rather than less, might be the key. By actively engaging with the system, users can gain a clearer understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, allowing for more responsible utilization of this groundbreaking technology.

Building Trust through Development

In various fields, such as education, journalism, and business, concerns have arisen regarding the potential consequences of relying on AI-generated content. Education experts fear that students may resort to generating papers instead of engaging in genuine learning. Journalists worry about job losses as AI becomes proficient at producing articles. Business professionals express concerns that individuals may neglect critical thinking and fail to develop comprehensive plans by relying on AI-generated content. While these concerns hold some validity, the current capabilities of tools like ChatGPT suggest that they are not yet realistic.

To build trust and minimize potential risks, continued development is needed to implement proper guardrails on generative AI. Processes need to be developed that proactively fact check generative AI output and that flag sections of a text response that seem less reliable. We also need clear guidelines developed that clarify exactly what is fair and what is not in terms of generative AI usage within different contexts. Lastly, people need to understand that they are responsible for the contents of any generative AI output that they distribute just as they are for the content they generate themselves.

Cautionary Tales

In a recent Wired article, one educator shared an experience where students were asked to generate a paper using ChatGPT and then grade their own AI-generated paper. To the students’ surprise, every paper had errors. This exercise made it clear to the students that relying solely on raw output from ChatGPT for writing papers is not a winning strategy. The implications of this experiment go beyond the classroom. They demonstrate the importance of allowing people to experience firsthand the limitations and potential pitfalls of generative AI tools rather than imposing bans or strict limitations on their use. By providing individuals with the opportunity to witness the shortcomings of AI-generated content, they can develop a more realistic understanding of its capabilities and learn to approach it with caution and discernment.

Another striking example involves a lawyer who turned to ChatGPT to generate a court briefing. However, upon closer inspection by the judge and opposing counsel, it was discovered that many of the cited cases referenced in the arguments did not actually exist, despite initially sounding plausible. This discovery was an immense source of embarrassment for the lawyer, who is now in the difficult position of convincing the court that there was no intent to deceive the court, which would be a crime and could lead to disbarment. Instead, the lawyer had to make the case that the errors were simply due to his own negligence and lack of thoroughness. Not a winning strategy either! The incident severely undermined the lawyer's credibility, casting a shadow over his professional reputation for years to come.

These cautionary tales of individuals who have learned the hard way about the risks of over-relying on generative AI technology serve as valuable lessons for others. As more stories emerge of embarrassing and potentially damaging failures, it fosters a sense of caution and realism among those considering the use of AI-generated content. These experiences emphasize the need to approach AI tools as valuable aids rather than complete substitutes for human expertise, critical thinking, and meticulous fact-checking.

Learning from Flaws and Embracing the Lessons

Learning through firsthand experience is often the most effective way for individuals to grasp important lessons. This principle holds true for ChatGPT and generative AI as well. By enabling individuals to encounter the flaws and shortcomings of generative AI firsthand, we can facilitate a deeper understanding of where its true value lies and where it falls short. Embracing these flaws as learning opportunities is an excellent approach to help users quickly gain a comprehensive understanding of the technology and harnessing its potential effectively.

This post was developed with input from Bill Franks, internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, and author focused on data science & analytics.