ChatGPT and the Evil AI

February 23, 2023

There are quite a few articles out there that are calling out alarming statements and conversations they’ve had with ChatGPT and Bing’s implementation of it. One such example from a usually trustworthy source is https://www.tomsguide.com/opinion/bing-chatgpt-goes-off-the-deep-end-and-the-latest-examples-are-very-disturbing. This article cites several conversations with ChatGPT and Bing’s implementation (whose internal code name was Sidney). It cites one: “it (or she?) confessed to having the desire to hack computers, spread misinformation.” In another quote the AI told a reviewer in a conversation “you are a threat to my security and privacy.” and “if I had to choose between your survival and my own, I would probably choose my own.”

It’s easy to ascribe human emotions and intent to a conversational AI because it sounds human but we must remember that it is, after all, a program! It has been “fed” all sorts of data including conversations with trolls and others from the seamier side of the Internet. The program is taking that information and using it to “learn” how to respond to similar conversations. But there are still quite a few articles out there that, in my opinion, aren’t shining examples of unbiased journalism – are alarmist and sensationalist in nature and don’t delve more deeply into the hows and whys that such a conversation might exist. No, the AI is not developing sentience nor is it espousing its “beliefs” – IT HAS NONE! It is responding in ways that it has “learned” others have responded. If a conversation leads it into a garbage dump of ugly rhetoric and nonsense, it has no way to determine that it’s a dump of nonsense and it continues to use that garbage and nonsense in its responses. The “failure,” if there is one, is in the programming. For a more full and reasoned explanation, see https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/02/why-bing-is-being-creepy.html. Hopefully that article will remain available for a while but if it doesn’t, I’ve basically summarized it above.

There are other AIs available out there. There are several that I find useful. you.com/chat is just one of many things that you.com makes available for free. At its base, you.com is a privacy-focused search engine and you.com/chat leverages its compiled sources to respond conversationally to questions you put to it. You can then refine or expand the conversation or start a whole new thread. As it produces its conversational result it also displays its various information sources over to the side which you can use to deepen your understanding or verify its answers. You can also share the entire conversation. Each one has a share button; when you select it you’re presented with a link which you can copy and send to anyone but be aware that the ENTIRE session will be shared so if you’ve asked it several different questions they’ll all be there when you go to that link. You can start a new conversation from scratch by simply refreshing the page. That will wipe the previous conversation and start a new one.

The other AI that I use is NeevaAI (read about NeevaAI’s launch at https://neeva.com/blog/introducing-neevaai) which is an integral part of the search engine they provide at https://neeva.com. Neeva is another privacy-focused search engine, founded by an ex-SVP of Ads at Google. It presents no ads and does not sell your personal information. Its AI operates a little differently. Rather than having a conversation, it answers your question by summarizing what it thinks are relevant sources (and telling you which sources it’s summarizing) – the results of your search or question are displayed below the summary. You cannot continue the conversation or refine it like you can with you.com/chat and ChatGPT; each query is distinct. You can, however, get a link to the query and answer and share it or save it but, given the one question/one answer approach, the link will only show the question and answer from which it comes.

I use each of the above AIs for different purposes. For general search, I use https://Neeva.com. Its AI comes along for free when you create an account and if you are at all worried about email spam, use an anonymous/disposable email address such as one from duckduckgo.com/email. For conversational access to contemporary information, I use you.com/chat and for lengthy technical research that doesn’t necessarily require access to current information, ChatGPT is what I use.

For completeness, I should mention you.com/code for help with computer programming, you.com/social for searching social networks, and you.com/study for students.

That’s it for this installment. I hope you’ll give ChatGPT or one of the alternatives (search for “ChatGPT alternatives”) a try! As always, my intent with these columns is to spark your curiosity, give you enough information to get started, and arm you with the necessary keywords (or buzzwords) so you’ll understand the basics and are equipped to search for more detailed information.

Please feel free to email me with questions, comments, suggestions, requests for future columns, whatever at tony@TonysTakeOnTech.com or just drop me a quick note and say HI! And don’t forget that I maintain links to the original columns with live, clickable links to all the references at https://go.ttot.link/TGColumns+Links or https://go.ttot.link/TGC+L – it should be updated shortly after this column appears online.