Goldman Sachs predicts generative A.I. will replace 300 million full-time jobs because it can “generate content that is indistinguishable from human-created output.” Meanwhile, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has paused hiring because A.I. chatbots could replace 7,800 workers.
Calm down, people! Even OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has said ChatGPT shouldn't be relied on for “anything important.”
Yes, ChatGPT is impressive at first glance, but the closer you look, the more you’ll find it’s not all that.
First, it makes stuff up. For example, did you know James Joyce and Vladimir Lenin met in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1916? No? Well, that's what ChatGPT said, but it never happened.
Say you try the AI-powered Bing search, it will point to The New York Times story explaining that this meeting never happened, and it will “state” only the claim without noting that it‘s a lie, or as A.I. people like to say, an A.I. hallucination.
On other bogus answers, Bing will sometimes cite made-up sources for its answers. When you try to click through to them, you'll get a 404 error message. One time in four, according to a new Stanford University study, the citations it gives you for its answers don't actually support its conclusions.
You may have noticed I put a lot of links into my stories. That’s because I want you to know where I get the information I use.
I make it easy to fact-check my stories. A.I. will lie to you all night and day, and unless you’re a subject matter expert or want to fact-check every last lousy answer, you‘d never know.
You can’t even trust these A.I. engines when you feed them the correct information. My favorite example: during a demo, Bing AI was fed a Q3 2022 financial Gap Clothing financial report and got much of it dead wrong.
The Gap report stated that the company's gross margin was 37.4%, with an adjusted gross margin of 38.7%, excluding an impairment charge. Therefore, Bing was wrong when it stated the gross margin as 37.4%, including the adjustment and impairment charges.
If [A.I.] can’t correctly summarize a financial report, something I could almost do in my sleep, how can you trust it to do anything important?
If it can’t correctly summarize a financial report, something I could almost do in my sleep, how can you trust it to do anything important?
I've been using ChatGPT a lot recently to summarize reports and Otter.AI transcripts. Unfortunately, I see it make that kind of mistake every day. Even when I give it the answers, it gets them wrong. It's still useful – but remember, I spot mistakes for a living.
That’s not what other people are doing. Instead, they’re blindly trusting that the documents, memos, and code – whatever the A.I. chatbot comes up with – is right. At this stage of the A.I. game, that belief is idiotic.
ChatGPT and the like talk a good game. They sound convincing. But, they’re only convincing in the same way that someone with Dunning–Kruger – the cognitive bias that stupid people have when they overestimate their ability or knowledge – is convincing.
They sure sound like they know what they’re talking about, but they’re often just pulling answers out of … thin air.
Why? They do it because way too many people labour under the delusion that they “know” what they're talking about and can fact-check their answers.
A.I. engines are just very advanced, auto-complete, fill-in-the-blank machines. Their answers come from what words will most likely be the next in response to any given query.
Nope, ChatGPT and its ilk are nothing like that. A.I. engines are just very advanced, auto-complete, fill-in-the-blank machines. Their answers come from what words will most likely be the next in response to any given query. Note, I didn’t say it’s the accurate or right word – just the one that’s most likely, statistically speaking, to pop out of their large language model (LLM).
That also means they’re not truly creative. Sure, it can come up with a decent limerick.
There once was an A.I. so bright,
It could chat and create with delight,
From poems to prose,
Its knowledge it'd show,
Bringing wisdom and laughter each night.
Not bad. But novels, short stories, real prose? Nope.
As Nick Kolakowski, novelist, and Dice senior editor, tweeted, “People who argue in favour of AI-generated covers, short stories, novels, screenplays, etc. are uniformly incapable of doing the actual work required to make those things on their own; they’re losers who want the playing field leveled so they have a shot.”
CEOs and business leaders who think A.I. will solve anything by eliminating workers are losers, too. Sure, A.I., when used carefully, can help your people be a lot more productive whether it’s at a help desk, accounting, or programming – but replace them?
We’re a long way from that day.
And the longer I work with A.I. chatbots, the more I realize they won’t be ready to replace staff for years to come, if then.
About the author
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting-edge PC operating system, 300bps was a fast Internet connection, and WordStar was the state-of-the-art word processor.
Computerworld focuses on empowering enterprise users and their managers, helping them create business advantage by skillfully exploiting today's abundantly powerful web, mobile, and desktop applications. Computerworld also offers guidance to IT managers tasked with optimizing client systems – and helps businesses revolutionize the customer and employee experience with new collaboration platforms. For more information, visit computerworld.com.
Contents of this article remain the property of the author and/or publisher.