Eliza, Terminator and the Secret Menace of ChatGPT | technology

It was 1966 when Joseph Weisenbaum, a pioneer of artificial intelligence at MIT, discovered he had an uncomfortable object on his hands. He developed one of the first chatbots, a computer capable of faking a human conversation with reasonable success. Her name was Eliza, and she would become a milestone for that fledgling technology. But also at a turning point for its inventor, after observing its impact on people. Weisenbaum was horrified after he allowed his secretary to use Elisa: after a while, he asked her to leave the room to be private in his conversation with the machine. The anecdote serves to read the current phenomenon of ChatGPT in perspective.

Eliza, in her Doctor version, was created as a parody of the responses of psychotherapists who returned user statements in the form of questions. The intention was to “show that the connection between person and machine is superficial”, but seeing his secretary and many others open up completely when speaking with Elisa, Weisenbaum discovers a very different reality. He later wrote: “I did not realize that even a very brief exposure to relatively simple software could induce powerful wishful thinking in ordinary people”.

Weizenbaum’s program was very basic, far from the current conversational intelligence evolution that’s grabbing headlines and filling networks with amazing examples. But the effect it causes is the same as Elisa’s, explained a Google engineer convinced LaMDA, one such device, had the consciousness of a seven-year-old. We keep projecting human capabilities onto machines because we humans are also programmed to chat. As neuroscientist Mariano Sigman explains, what sets us apart as a species is that we are conversational animals: We define, shape, and fulfill ourselves through the words we share with others. Dialogue is in our DNA and the brain resolves this cognitive dissonance by accepting that this program, even though we know it is a silicon black box, is a being that wants to communicate with us.

After Eliza will come Barry, who pretended to be schizophrenic, and later Alice or Ciri, or newer and better known to the Spanish public, like Irene from Renfe and Bey from Bankia (virtual assistants were developed in Spain). In the worst of the bank’s reputation crisis, with Rodrigo Rato being investigated for his alleged crimes, it was Pia who kept the bank’s website upright with her ability to strike small talk with those who came to satiate his systems. outlet. People couldn’t resist pouring insults into their anger impersonators she has.

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Weisenbaum didn’t understand why people would take Elisa as the first step toward a machine that could simulate human intelligence. He thought it was a dangerous fantasy and that it was a “terrible mistake” to understand it as anything more than a program that performs a function. Weizenbaum abandoned Eliza and became critical of the idea that machines could be intelligent, as injecting such a frame of mind into society would be “slow poison.”

That pioneer’s words now resonate with objections like that of Emily Bender, who insists on repeating that there is nothing magical about ChatGPT, it’s just a parrot. A highly developed parrot with many readings (“stochastics” qualify), but it’s a parrot. This computational linguist is one of the biggest critics of the purveyors of these programs who really cloud everything. Tools that will be very useful and revolutionize many activities, without a doubt, but they lack organization and transparency. Bender is calling on the companies that promote these chats to stop speaking in the first person, as if they were sentient beings: “They should stop making it sound human. It shouldn’t be speaking in the first person: it’s not a person, it’s a screen.” “They want to create something that looks more magical than it is, but it’s actually the machine that creates the illusion that you’re human,” Bender denounces. “If someone is in the business of selling technology, the more glamorous it looks, the easier it is to sell,” he snaps. It is a commercial trick that we cannot resist. Like Geppetto, we want the wooden boy to be a boy truly.

Skynet Edit

Now, major tech companies are releasing software for all of their services tasty which they have been working on for years, but did not dare to spread it among users until the arrival of fashion, the noise, from ChatGPT. For example, Google will include it in its business tool, Workspace, and Microsoft in Office. This has led to an explosion of interest and interesting (and interesting) criticisms, such as the open letter signed Wednesday by a thousand professionals calling for a six-month moratorium on chatbot development. “AI Labs have entered an uncontrollable race,” they denounced, “to develop and implement increasingly powerful digital minds that no one, not even their creators, can reliably understand, predict, or control.” The message was signed by Elon Musk, who originally promoted OpenAI — the company that created ChatGPT — and who, after trying to take control of it, is now trying to screw it up.

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what’s the problem? That the risks Musk and the other signatories describe are futuristic and science fiction, rather than real and urgent. They speak of the danger of creating “non-human minds that could eventually outnumber us, outsmart us, become obsolete, and replace us” and that we might “lose control of our civilization”. It will not happen today or tomorrow: we are not at a time when Skynet, the evil intelligence, will release the Terminator as in the famous movie. The biggest threat we face today with AI is that its capabilities concentrate more power, wealth, and resources in a small handful of companies: Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and so on. Specifically, the same companies that monopolize all development and research in this field, deceive universities, and direct all development towards their commercial interests, as denounced a recent study in Sciences. Ex: The first signatory to this letter, besides Musk, is Yoshua Bengio, dad in artificial intelligence from the University of Montreal, he sold his deep learning company to Microsoft and became a consultant to the company. Now, Microsoft has invested $10,000 million in OpenAI, to later integrate the chatbot into its browser. A core area of ​​research is now being swallowed up by the most powerful corporations on the planet, while the message warns of a future dystopia in the form of the Terminator.

However, people are suspicious. A recent study asked more than 5,000 Spaniards about their perception of artificial intelligence and came to a startling conclusion: the fear of these developments stems from a suspicion of the economic interests of those who promote them. To understand each other: Fear not Terminator, but Cyberdyne Systems, the company that in this fantasy created Skynet without noticing the consequences of opening Pandora’s Box.

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Weizenbaum developed Eliza for one purpose, but upon contact with humans became something else. His intentions didn’t matter, because people viewed him differently. Originally, Facebook’s motto was to “move fast and break things.” When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook among college students, what was it for? To remind you of your friend’s birthday at school, allow you to flirt with the people around you and allow you to share your thoughts with the world. What is an emerging ability? They collaborated in genocide, as confirmed in different parts of the planet. Why did such a thing happen? Because of the greed of its owners, who already knew its impact on humanity, but also realized that putting the brakes on it was detrimental to their bottom line.

Now, why don’t we stop talking about these clever programs, which they’ve been developing in an opaque way for years? Because all these companies are in a hurry to make money in the new “race without control” for Internet services. At this point, it doesn’t matter what the machine does or how it does it, whether it’s a random parrot or a clever parrot. What matters is who leads it, why, and what this parrot does to us, regardless of original intentions, as happened with Eliza. This is where we must focus on policies that regulate progress, demand transparency, and limit the concentration of this new power.

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