During Thanksgiving break, my dad mentioned something called “ChatGPT”. He’s always mentioning some new innovative technology or something I “absolutely have to look into”, so I initially didn't think this was anything particularly unique or different.
A few weeks later, however, we had friends over to celebrate one of my roommate's birthdays and all of a sudden this vaguely familiar ChatGPT came up in conversation. I will grudgingly admit that I was glad my dad mentioned it a few weeks ago so that I could actually contribute to the conversation, but I was genuinely curious. What is ChatGPT? And why is it so special?
ChatGPT is a long-form question answering AI that is able to answer complex questions conversationally. It’s revolutionary because it’s trained to learn what humans actually mean when they ask a question, so it doesn’t give you the same answer twice the way google typically would. AI technology in the past had come up with some interesting and even impressive answers to questions, but you could pretty easily differentiate which responses were generated by technology and which were human responses. ChatGPT, however, is able to provide astonishingly human-quality responses, with people finding it difficult to differentiate between its responses and actual human responses.
Post finals, I was curious whether I would find this technology as impressive as everyone else seemed to, so I created an account and started to type in random questions. I asked it to do everything from writing in a particular style to explaining an unknown concept to even creating code to play a game. It seemed like ChatGPT could do anything. Needless to say, I was very impressed.
For years, we’ve easily been able to find answers to quantitative things, like math problems, but for something as subjective as writing or as complex as creating lengthy code, ChatGPT is most definitely revolutionary.
In a college or school environment, it’s more of a tool to be leveraged rather than just another search engine. For example, I took Spanish for 13 years from kindergarten to senior year, although only actually retained information once we started getting tested on it middle school onward. I haven’t taken any Spanish in a classroom setting since then, but have been fortunate enough to visit many Spanish speaking countries, from Costa Rica and Colombia as well as Spain and Ecuador, giving me some periodic practice. It’s been a while since then, so I asked ChatGPT a question in Spanish, both to see whether I remembered anything substantial as well as whether the software could answer my question like a human would. Much to my surprise, not only did it answer my question (the way honestly Alexa or a google home can do), but it also asked me a question back, creating a real conversation. We kept going back and forth for a few minutes and before I knew it, I had had a whole conversation with a computer. Crazy!
Ofcourse, as a new software, it has limitations as it is programmed to not provide harmful responses, the quality of answers does depend on the quality of the input, and most importantly, answers are not always correct.
However, ChatGPT certainly has impressed me and clearly has so much potential. I'm curious to see how it continues to grow and improve in the future and what else it is capable of.