I've actually been hearing more and more buzz about this topic, so I want to revisit this thread. Lately, I find ChatGPT to be a powerful motivator for me to be worthy of my own neurons. There was an entertaining and informative episode on the podcast "Cautionary Tales" about chatbots that got me thinking about the role of AI in our industry (link below). The takeaway is that it's much easier to pretend to be human than to actually do the things that we value in humans. And a bot that fakes it well probably isn't representing the best traits of humans in the first place. Remember Tay?
You can ask ChatGPT any simple question with a technical dimension and it will give an answer that probably sounds convincing to a client and will produce totally ineffective results if implemented. OpenAI recognizes this in the "Limitations" section of their "Introducing ChatGPT" post (link below). I've had a lot of conversations lately where I've pointed out that ChatGPT and other text-generating bots aren't intended to be correct or honest about anything, and heard in response some version of, "well it's just not quite there yet." As if this is even a step towards that. In fact, ChatGPT has not even started becoming accurate. That's not what it's for.
Do engineers-and people in general-talk a lot without saying anything? Rely on careful wording to hide our lack of expertise on a subject? Parrot information without review or synthesis? Certainly, and engineered systems have failed as a result. If we're excited that ChatGPT sounds convincingly human, maybe we should also be a little disappointed that humans have so much in common with a piece of software that is not programmed to tell the truth, provide any needed service, or generate original informed opinions. Maybe the question isn't, "can AI do my job?", it's, "what should I be doing that makes me better than AI?"
Tim Harford, Cautionary Tales: "The Online Date That's Too Good to Be True"
OpenAI: "Introducing ChatGPT"
Christian Parker P.E., M.ASCE
Structural Project Engineer
Sent: 01-18-2023 04:43 PM
From: Christopher Seigel
Subject: ChatGPT - its value and concerns within the industry
I am curious as to who has used or interacted with Chat GPT.
If you have no idea what this is, check out this article by business insider:
If you still aren't sure what ChatGPT is, this is your guide to the viral chatbot that everyone is talking about
or better yet, try it yourself at OpenAI
I myself have seen that it could have some value to the industry. For example, the bot can be helpful in aggregating information in a way that you can query for using a conversational dialogue. A friend of mine has used it to help him develop some python code. However, I have also seen it produce a number of incorrect answers to questions (to which it will readily acknowledge when challenged).
Does Chat GPT seem like it could add some value to your industry? Are there any obvious concerns or drawbacks you can envision about it?
Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE