Could Open AI’s GPT-3 help us spot Fake News or be a Writing Tutor?

I’m excited about the possibilities with GPT-3 which was just launched by Open AI. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to use it yet but I’m on the waitlist. It appears to be a very powerful text predictor. From some initial text, it can create something better and faster than a human could. Instead of checking a number of sources and writing up a summary, it can do it all for you. Writing essays, guides, white papers, coding, business e-mails or even poetry are all within its capability from what I have read. If you were already green with envy that students have easy access to knowledge, you’ll be truly sick when you find out their essays could one day be written for them in seconds.

GPT-3 is seriously impressive.

However, one thing to bear in mind is that it doesn’t know the meaning of what it writes, as this article explains. This can be related back to the Chinese room argument that I wrote about on my last post on the intersections of philosophy and technology. It argues that a computer can provide answers (or look up symbols in Chinese in this case) without having any real understanding of the meaning (it can’t understand Chinese). But does a computer really need to understand anyway? Perhaps we should focus on how useful a technology like this could be while being aware and mindful of its limitations. As we know most AI (and some humans) don’t have common sense. Like any AI, it is learning and like anyone, it can make mistakes. It’s just when it makes an obvious mistake that any human can recognize is wrong, it doesn’t instill confidence. Maybe the questions to ask are, what else can it be useful for that could provide a true writing or reading superpower?

I came up with a few questions of my own…

  • Can it analyze news stories in real time to detect the truth and identify fake news?
  • Can it quickly recreate text with better arguments to make it more persuasive or reflect a specific tone? (If so, I need it for my blog)
  • As well as writing essays, can it tutor people to write better essays i.e. can it teach?
Can you think of more?

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