In Opinion | NYTimes Chomsky, Roberts, & Watumull: The False Promise of ChatGPT

In the News, Technology
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Opinion Guest Essay: The False Promise of ChatGPT

March 8, 2023 | Professors of linguistics Dr. Noam Chomsky (MIT/University of Arizona) and Dr. Ian Roberts (University of Cambridge), and Dr. Jeffrey Watumull Oceanit’s director of artificial intelligence, offered their thoughts on OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and Microsoft’s Sydney in a guest essay published in the New York Times.

The opinion piece begins, “Jorge Luis Borges once wrote that to live in a time of great peril and promise is to experience both tragedy and comedy, with “the imminence of a revelation” in understanding ourselves and the world.”

In their guest essay, Chomsky, Roberts, and Watumull go on to argue that the ChatGPT is not like the human mind at all, but rather a “a lumbering statistical engine for pattern matching, gorging on hundreds of terabytes of data and extrapolating the most likely conversational response or most probable answer to a scientific question.”

With the ever-increasing hype around ChatGPT, Bard, and Sydney, the world has been abuzz with the possibilities and opportunities that AI can afford humanity. However, Chomsky, Roberts, and Watumull warn that this style of machine learning AI offers only a black box of memorization without explanation. They argue that, “such programs (as ChatGPT) are stuck in a prehuman or nonhuman phase of cognitive evolution. Yet, the popularity of AI applications, such as DALL-E-2, the AI image generator used to create the “Baking Bad” header image of this article, continues to skyrocket.

The authors argues that the AI of today’s deepest flaw is the absence of the most critical capacity of any intelligence: to say not only what is the case, what was the case and what will be the case — that’s description and prediction — but also what is not the case and what could and could not be the case.” That capacity – the ingredients of explanation, they contend, are the mark of true intelligence.

“The human mind is a surprisingly efficient and even elegant system that operates with small amounts of information.”

Read the full article on the NYTimes, here.

Photo credit: “Baking Bad” – Reddit/weirddalle