ARTICLE

ChatGPT, Artificial Intelligence, and Living in a Post-Truth Society

By English Literature - Faculty of Humanities • November 21, 2023

By Brandon Lukito (Binusian 2027)

People love trends. That adoration is I suppose, correlated to the essential nature of human beings, which is to always search for more and to never settle for less. The newest trend which lit up the world by storm was of course artificial intelligence. Indonesian people, sticking to their habit, no surprisingly followed suit having conversations about it. The most famously used AI in recent times is none other than the OpenAI-created chatbot, ChatGPT.

Before delving the discussion into deeper territories, let us refresh our memories about artificial intelligence itself. In my point of view, the term itself has become some sort of a buzzword, with large amounts of people flocking to it without any sort of grasp of its meaning. So, what is artificial intelligence exactly? Basically, artificial intelligence is a subfield of computer science which focuses its study on the development of computer systems to be able to perform tasks requiring human intelligence. Artificial intelligence itself can also be used to refer to the intelligence of machines, rather than that of a human or an animal. By that definition, it can be concluded that it is not something to be taken lightly and without expertise. If that is the case, then we should not assume to know more than we realistically do.

After understanding the basics of artificial intelligence, let us move on to the topic of the chatbot itself, ChatGPT. A chatbot is an artificial intelligence software designed to mimic or simulate human conversations online using text and/or voice outputs. ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) is specifically designed to be versatile in its capabilities, not limiting it to human conversations. It can write and debug computer code, write essays, and claimed to have the ability to create art. This particular claim to create art is a part of a larger debate, which we will touch on later.

Here are some terms regarding the overall concept of ChatGPT as a software:

  1. ChatGPT is a transformer, as the name suggests. It is a newly introduced deep learning architecture of an artificial neural network.
  2. Artificial neural networks are machine learning models that are built using principles of neuron connectivity from biological animal brains.
  3. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning that uses artificial neural networks in its work, hence making a mostly self-learning machine with little to no human intervention.
  4. Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence that focuses on the development of a self-learning machine.

As a former aspiring student of computer science, I was introduced (by my deceased father) to the field, took courses, and researched on my own to such an extent that I can say that I have a basic understanding of computer science, and by extension artificial intelligence. That said, this enigma about artificial intelligence and its effects is of course a tale close to my heart. I did not continue to pursue that path in part because of my fear of what it will become, and whether it will be used for good. Machine learning or not, an artificial intelligence is in the end just a mirror of its creators. No AI at this moment in time is yet capable to think for itself. All of its thoughts and creations are based on a humongous chunk of data, which were compiled thoroughly by humans. That is of course where it lies the key difference between us humans (sentient beings) with a machine. Our brains are wetware, composed of organic materials which cannot yet be replaced by the dryware of the computer. We can learn by ourselves from our experiences and misfortunes, and they are yet to be proven capable of that.

The one point I am trying to make is that I know where I stand. I generally approve of its use for coding and casual knowledge-based research, but I staunchly oppose its use to create art, especially where subjectivity is present (some visual arts demand symmetry, which can be more easily achieved by computers). Humans’ subjectivity is the secret of all art, without it, art is empty.

I submitted the question “Can AI create art?” to ChatGPT and received from it, I think, quite an apt metaphor for the situation:

While AI can produce aesthetically pleasing and creative outputs, the question of whether it can truly understand and embody the depth of human creativity and emotion remains a topic of debate. AI often works by learning patterns and structures from existing data, lacking the subjective experiences and emotions that human artists bring to their work. Nevertheless, AI’s creative contributions continue to evolve and inspire new possibilities in various artistic domains.

 While knowing where to stand is quite nice, I realize that it is a privilege to know so. The general public cannot be held to the same standard as people who are well informed about the subject itself. Living in a post-truth world, where facts are considered irrelevant, it is getting harder for a great number of people to fully understand AI and its repercussions. Some people use ChatGPT to cheat on exams, for example. What we need to highlight is not only how the process is obviously incompatible with the rules of the academia, but rather their willingness to give up their minds to AI without batting an eyelash. This kind of passive acceptance is what will destroy society first, not artificial intelligence in itself. People need to stop relying, in essentially all technology, but especially AI to do their job for them. The purpose of creating an artificial intelligence is for them to collaborate with humans and to do tasks which are better suited for computers, which can lead to new discoveries and breakthrough in the sciences, not to replace us completely. To ask an underlying question, would they want to be replaced?

In the end, it is inevitable to admit and conclude that from the moment artificial intelligence was created, it was, still is, and will be an integral part of our lives. Some have gone so far as saying that our merging with artificial intelligence will be another step in the human evolutionary process. Whether we want it or not, there is this entity that surpasses us in some fields of study or processing ability. You might ask, what can we do, then? Well, all we can do is to keep doing our work, that is the ones that they can never take away from us. Our creativity and ingenuity, that is what is left of us.