ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence (AI) in vogue, also knows how to laugh at himself, although his jokes are not good; if you ask him to tell you one, he proposes the following: “Why is ChatGPT always smiling? Because he knows all the answers to all the questions.” If you ask him for another one, but this time “from Galicians”, his answer is: “A Galician man asks ChatGPT: ‘What does a computer as intelligent as you do in his free time?’. ChatGPT answers: ‘I read, I learn and I train myself to improve my answers’. And the Galician replies: ‘Well, in my free time, I drink, dance and sing to improve my joy’.
ChatGPT is a natural language processor developed for tasks such as virtual conversation, translation, and text summarization and generation; because it is “trained” using large amounts of text available on the internet, it can generate quick and coherent answers to a wide range of questions and language tasks, which means that it is —potentially— able to take the place of copywriters, journalists, advertising creatives , public service employees and translators. (And if it isn’t already, it will be in the near future: as Jeanette Winterson says in her book 12 bytes. How to live and love in the future, The next quantum leap of the AI will take place when it programs other AIs, which the author calls “super AI”, thus freeing itself from the limitations of programming carried out by humans). But it’s not so much this that raised the alarm, but the way in which the use of ChatGPT can allow students to cheat their teachers in exams and written assignments; The Australian education authorities, for example, have already announced that they are going back to handwritten exams to prevent students from having theirs written by the AI, but the solution does not seem optimal, and sooner or later secondary schools and universities will have to establish reasonably effective protocols to minimize the disruptive effects on education that more and more intelligent electronic tools have.
But perhaps the problem is elsewhere; in the fact, for example, that, as Robert Zaretsky writes in an article in The American Scholar, “The current generation of students has stopped writing. Literally. Most do not see the importance of writing in a world—their world—largely post-literate. It is not only the world of students, however, but also that of those who consume reality shows, Those who claim to have “investigated” on their own and know that “it’s not how they tell you”, share the “solutions” proposed by the most infatuated and simplistic politicians, are trapped in the new economy of attention, with its vociferous social networks and addictive and its influence without authority. A post-literate world is, essentially, a post-democratic world in which citizens are not in a position to understand discourses of a complexity proportional to that of existing problems or to rationally approach common issues; a world that only retains from democratic societies the habit of allowing people to vote.
Paradoxically, a society that despises words to the point of allowing machines to monopolize them continues to attach perhaps excessive importance to those used for aesthetic purposes.
Technology makes things easier to measure but harder to understand, someone said; ChatGPT’s danger lies not only in its potential to replace human beings in jobs that depend on repetitive and predictable language skills, but also, above all, in its potential to trick us into thinking we’re understanding something. Paradoxically, a society that despises words to the point of allowing machines to monopolize them continues to attach perhaps excessive importance to those used for aesthetic purposes. But even that area is not safe from technological interference, and a few months ago the German poet Ulla Hahn —known for her introspective poetry and her political commitment— said she was “shocked” when she discovered that a shortlisted poem for the prestigious the Brentano-Gesellschaft that she had particularly liked had actually been generated by an AI.
The poem is titled Sonnenblicke auf der Flucht —in the translation of the ChatGPT it begins like this: “Fleeing from the darkness and the cold, / with the hope of a new destination, / we look for the moments of sun, / that give us strength to carry on”— and, if that AI is asked to analyze it, the result is as follows: “The poem is about the search for happiness and hope in difficult times. The author uses the metaphor of fleeing towards the light and the heat of the sun to describe the search for moments of joy in the midst of darkness and adversity (and) encourages people not to lose hope and to always look for moments of happiness, even in the darkest moments. In general, Sonnenblicke auf der Flucht It is a motivating and positive poem that reminds us of the importance of seeking light and hope in the darkest moments of our lives.
But what life is ChatGPT talking about? And what does that first person plural hide but the fact that, as the British playwright John Osborne wrote, the machine is a logical evolution of the human being, an intelligence without morals that does not know how to tell jokes, but has the potential to end the link between words and things and what it means to us?
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