Chat GPT vs. Me

How to Start a Blog

I wrote one of these introductions. 'Intelligent' chatbot ChatGPT wrote the other:

Blog Introduction 1: I asked ChatGPT to write me a 6-week unit of geography for eight year olds. It took ten seconds. The result was more than good enough. Find out how that's possible, together with an insight for you into the classroom opportunities and threats of tech's next big thing.

Blog Introduction 2: ChatGPT is revolutionizing the way educators work and interact with their students. As a cutting-edge AI language model, ChatGPT can save teachers valuable time by automatically answering common questions and generating content.

I authored the first and promise I'm speaking now. I'd asked ChatGPT to generate a compelling 30-40 word introduction to a blog about itself. It did, but not in my voice. How could it. We'd only just met. It didn't know that my style is chattily pronouned with 'I', 'we' and 'you'.

So I tweaked the request to, 'Write me a compelling 30-40 word blog introduction about ChatGPT, for educators, in a personable style using pronouns I, we and you.' Here's the result:

Blog Introduction 3: As an AI language model, I'm here to support you and your students in their learning journey. Together, we can tackle any subject with ease and accuracy, allowing you to focus on what truly matters - inspiring and guiding your students. Let's discover the limitless potential of AI technology and take education to the next level.

That's scary. ChatGPT just made itself the 'I'. What next? I the teacher? I the trainer? I the coach? I the global overlord?

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is the most advanced chatbot in the history of chatbots.

Here's what it's not: When humans are unavailable at Scottish Power, NatWest or BT, a baby chatbot steps in. Within seconds, Cora or Emma or Spanner have you in an infinite loop crafted from your hesitant answers to FAQs. It's a deep dive that keeps surfacing with nothing useful.

Everything these digital assistants will ever say has already been decided. You're simply navigating the branching options already grafted on to the website by an eager yet unrealistic human. Before long you'll end up at the end of a twig or back at the trunk once more.

Typing 'HUMAN' has little affect. 'TALK TO A PERSON' won't help. Pressing the keys very very hard will neither summon a mammal nor create the discourse to which you originally aspired.

ChatGPT is very different. It doesn't know its response until you've finished typing your request. Like a good conversation. One where you don't think about what you're going to say next until the other person has finished speaking. It also remembers what's been said. Continuing the chat makes sense. Again, a good conversation.

How on earth is this possible? How can a computer appear more attentive and interested than most of your class at 0915 on a Monday morning?

How Does ChatGPT Work?

Chat: An informal conversation; an exchange of ideas and information.

GPT: Generative Pretrained Transformer

Generative - ChatGPT creates text from scratch - generates it - doesn't select from a catalogue of existing phrases, or cut and pastes from the web

Pretrained - it's seen a huge set of conversations that have already happened and text that's already been written. It's learned how chat works. It's deduced which words will likely follow each other, or cluster together, and which kind of responses are usually given to certain kinds of request.

Transformer - the technical magic that changes text into numbers so that a response can be calculated, and then turned back into text.

ChatGPT has analysed billions of text exchanges, turned them into numbers, and learned how sentences work. So, its ready for you.

What to do with ChatGPT

Have a play here.

After a handful of disclaimers (its world view gets a bit hazy after 2021; it may be wrong or biased; all the offensive stuff has been removed) find out how much time it will save you. Write a lesson plan. A strategic intent. A vision statement. A difficult email. A Valentines' message to your partner, or loved one. Or both.

Sooner or later you'll want to make it swear. Or swear at it. Try that and you'll get short shrift. ChatGPT has a moral compass, ironically installed (allegedly) by 3rd-world workers paid $2/hr to manually tag abusive content.

For now it's free, though at times of high usage (most of the time) you'll be queue-jumped by paid subscribers.

This week I introduced it to several colleagues. They put it to work right away:

  • Tell me how to structure a difficult conversation
  • Write me 30 words to start a newsletter
  • How do I tell Ofsted to keep away
  • Write me a polite yet assertive reply to this parent's email
  • Write me the HTML for my webpage (yes, it codes too)
  • Explain that ChatGPT will be replacing the headteacher. Going forward.

And tales abound of students' ingenious applications. These cluster around themes of enhanced cheating and delegated essay writing. Countering this with a stunning act of self policing, 22-year-old Princeton University student Edward Tian has developed the GPTZero app for detecting AI-generated text. I'm sure his mates are thrilled.

The Singularity

The ultimate request to a budding AI goes like this: "Create a better version of yourself and keep doing that." ChatGPT won't. Yet. And if it ever does we (humanity) will need to run or hide or jump with joy. Futurist Ray Kurzweil calls it The Singularity. This achievement of genuine, general AI that's smarter than us is decades away, if at all. But ChatGPT is a significant step along the way and one we need to take seriously for ourselves and our pupils.

How to End a Blog

ChatGPT continues to revolutionize human-AI interaction. Embrace the power of language technology today.

(definitely not me. It's 'revolutionise'. With an 's'.)