Should We Be Worried? ChatGPT and AI are the Next Big Things, But Some of Us are Embracing, Others Not so Much!

ChatGPT at OfficeXpats April 2023Unless you’ve been on an African Safari for months on end, or are exploring the Amazon on some exotic, extended adventure tour, you probably have heard about something called ChatGPT.

To those of us who may be behind the technology curve, or perhaps only heard of it on the nightly news, ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence platform that is quickly becoming “The Next Big Thing.” Whether it’s good, bad or ugly remains to be seen.

Indeed, there is fear being generated by the Mainstream Media that ChatGPT and other forms of AI are going to take over our lives, make our kids unintelligible, and create seismic upheavals in the economy by potentially replacing jobs, and perhaps whole industries.

There may be a kernel or two of truth to some of this rhetoric, but let’s rewind for a second or two and try and get to the bottom of this new, emerging phenomenon.

Simply put – that is if you can call anything related to AI simple – ChatGPT[a] is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022. It is built on top of Open AI’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.

If any part of that definition – harvested from Wikipedia – sounds like gobbledygook, it probably is, unless you’re a full-blown technoid, or an AI know-it-all.

Rachel Rothman, a former teacher and current business consultant now officing at OfficeXpats in Downtown Winslow, has a more than down-to-earth explanation of what ChatGPT is and what it can do for the average person.

She doesn’t pretend to be an expert on the subject at all; rather she’s someone with a passing curiosity about ChatGPT, and comes at it from a layman’s perspective. Those are some of the reasons why she agreed to lead a discussion on the topic one recent evening at the OfficeXpats co-working conference center.

ChatGPT at OfficeXpats April 2023 - 2“It’s taking information from the Internet,” she says of ChatGPT, “and synthesizing it… It answers questions and facilitates the answering of questions. The key is how to ask (it) good questions.”

From Rothman’s point of view, ChatGPT can perform some amazing things and make every day living that much easier. She ticks off a dozen or so tasks that the new platform – started in 2015 by Elon Musk and Sam Altman, and a few months back purchased by Microsoft – can perform pretty easily. These include writing cover letters, answer general knowledge questions, personalizing workouts, financial planning, product recommendations, mental health support, philosophical discussions and more.

“It’s pretty optimistic and it’s trying to please,” she says. “It’s not (necessarily) learning new information from the Internet, it’s using what’s already there.”

While some of the discussion veered towards what can be termed as the downside of ChatGPT – people potentially using it for nefarious means, disinformation or propaganda, or what’s been chronicled in the news, high school and college students using it instead of relying on their own critical thinking to write papers or take tests – most attendees at the OfficeXpats’ meeting were more or less upbeat about its far-reaching potential.

Some even cited the Chat site – – that tries to make it clear that the AI platform is aimed at the greater good: We’ve trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.”

Lynn Lynbergh, an author and health care consultant in attendance, says she got involved in ChatGPT recently when her son wanted to see if it could help him write a parody like those found on the Onion.

“It did it. It was amazing,” she said of the spoof town with a mayor named “Spaghetti.” “I think it’s going to be super fun to see this unfold.”

Leslie Schneider, co-owner of OfficeXpats and a Bainbridge Island City Council member, used the platform recently to write a press release to announce her re-election bid. “I don’t really know much about writing press releases,” she says. “I just gave it some basic information and wrote it for me.”

She believes ChatGPT will have positive impacts across industries, such as retail, where it “will allow customers to ask questions” of their favorite stores and shops. “It’s here. It’s going to be ubiquitous,” she adds.

Still even Schneider agreed there could be plenty of haves and have-nots, as ChatGPT begins to infiltrate our society. “What’s the value of boilerplate” documentation, say, versus “creative. It’s going to cause us to evaluate what is creative,” she says.

Jeremy Moff can relate. The owner of Moff Interactive, a customer strategies company, writes poetry on the side for fun and has dabbled with ChatGPT. “I asked it to write a love poem for my wife,” Moff says. “It wrote one, but every other line rhymed. Then, I said, take that poem and make it rhyme less. It did so, but in the style I like.”

Moff further refined his instructions, asking ChatGPT to reshape the second poem using shorter sentences, and using a more “surreal” approach. “And, it ended up being something I would write!” he recalls. “At first I was in awe; then I was irritated. Poetry for me is a very spiritual type of endeavor. I get on a different plane of consciousness… You wonder what this thing (ChatGPT) can do. In some ways it’s an amazing tool. In other ways in frightening!”

Interested in knowing more about AI and ChatGPT, check out the following articles presented to us by reader/follower Dave Kragen:

“OpenAI CEO [Sam Altman] Predicted AI Would Either End the World as We Know It, or Make Tons of Money”  –

“You Are Not a Parrot. And a chatbot is not a human. And a linguist named Emily M. Bender is very worried what will happen when we forget this.” By Elizabeth Weil (a features writer at N.Y.Mag.)  –
ChatGPT Is Coming for Classrooms. Don’t Panic. The AI chatbot has stoked fears of an educational apocalypse. Some teachers see it as a sorely needed reboot. Read in WIRED:
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