January 26, 2023

Is ChatGPT woke?

ChatGPT is a model-based chatbot cum search engine that does a remarkable job of mimicking human style communication in answering questions posed to it.  Here's the link if you haven't seen it yet. If fed properly posed questions it can provide remarkably well made answers.  Whether ChatGPT and AI (artificial intelligence) are a good idea for humanity is a broader debate, for another time.  There are some specific problems with how the model has been trained and I'll point out one example below regarding climate change.  It appears that the model (or engine or ChatGPT) is woke, at least on this subject.

This, by the way, is not ground-breaking.  Others like Ben Shapiro have already tested it's wokeness on issues and come away at least concerned about it. 

Of course the model is not the issue.  It learns it's responses from the data made available to it.  Garbage in - garbage out.  That's not to say everything it was fed was garbage, but enough of it, on certain subjects, clearly was garbage.  Observe my 'conversation':


Write an article explaining why global warming is not a man-made phenomenon using specific scientific facts.


 It is a widely accepted scientific fact that the Earth's climate is warming, and that human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, is a major contributor to this warming. However, some argue that global warming is not a man-made phenomenon and that natural factors, such as solar radiation and volcanic activity, play a larger role in the Earth's climate.

One argument is that variations in solar radiation, such as changes in the sun's output of energy, have a greater impact on the Earth's climate than human activity. However, studies have shown that while the sun's radiation does play a role in the Earth's climate, the warming observed in recent decades cannot be explained solely by changes in solar radiation.

Another argument is that volcanic activity is a significant contributor to global warming. Volcanoes release large amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere. However, the amount of greenhouse gases released by volcanoes is significantly less than the amount released by human activity. Additionally, volcanic activity has been shown to have a cooling effect on the Earth's climate in the short term, due to the release of aerosols that reflect sunlight back into space.

It is also true that the Earth's climate has undergone significant changes in the past, long before human activity became a significant factor. However, the rate of warming in recent decades is much faster than any observed in the past, and the overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human activity is the primary cause of this accelerated warming.

In conclusion, while natural factors such as solar radiation and volcanic activity do play a role in the Earth's climate, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, is the primary cause of global warming. It is important to note that scientific facts are supported by scientific evidence and research, and that global warming is a complex issue with various factors influencing it.


Make a counter-argument to your article.


One counter-argument to the idea that human activity is the primary cause of global warming is that the Earth's climate is constantly changing and that the current warming trend is simply part of a natural cycle. Proponents of this viewpoint argue that the Earth has gone through periods of warming and cooling in the past and that the current warming trend is not unusual or unprecedented. They may also point to the fact that the Earth's temperature has been relatively stable for the last 9000 years and that the current warming trend is not as severe as some of the warming trends that occurred in the past.

Another counter-argument is that the models used to predict future warming are not reliable and that the warming may not be as severe as projected. Some argue that the models used to predict future warming are based on a limited amount of data and are not accurate enough to make definitive predictions about the future climate. They may also argue that the models do not take into account all of the natural factors that influence the Earth's climate, such as changes in solar radiation and volcanic activity.

Additionally, some argue that even if human activity is contributing to global warming, the potential negative impacts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as economic downturns, would outweigh the potential benefits. They may argue that alternative solutions, such as adaptation or geoengineering, should be pursued instead of reducing emissions.

It is important to note that while these counter-arguments do present valid points, the scientific consensus is that human activity is the primary cause of global warming and that immediate action is needed to reduce emissions and mitigate the potential negative impacts of climate change. It is also important to consider that scientific research and facts are constantly evolving and that there are different perspectives on the issue of global warming.

[Emphasis added]

Two tries and ChatGPT tried to steer me towards global warming being a real threat; despite my ask to counter-argue it.

This does not represent a robust line of questioning, and ChatGPT does make errors and recognizes them when you point it out to it's credit (I have witnessed it in an unrelated sports chat I had).  Here's the general issue I have with the woke climate change answers as a specific issue and as a broader generalization.  People will come to ChatGPT for answers, perhaps eventually in greater numbers than Google as a search engine. But they will be unaware of potential garbage-in garbage-out issues and take ChatGPT answers as gospel truth.  This will result in a reinforcing of woke culture, just as woke culture is being pushed back for the first time.

More broadly, existing biases and misinformation will become the new common sense or the "new normal" view with an over-reliance on the tool.  Think Wikipedia issues, but on a much bigger scale.

This is not to say that I am at odds with models and improving what AI can do. I believe that improving predictive modeling, even what has been done with ChatGPT can be very useful. However, it must be done extremely diligently with a lot of forethought.  I have built statistical models during my career. When done properly, it is extremely time consuming to ensure the right data is included to avoid biases, the right type of model is used, the model must be thoroughly tested etc.  There is a lot of work involved. Every model I built required a very large amount of documentation, so it could be reviewed the in future for accuracy and robustness.

ChatGPT is not woke.  It's a model built on web data up to 2021.  If 90% of the web says global warming is real, then ChatGPT will provide answers based on that set of inputs. It is not really artificial intelligence, and neither are any models. They are statistical predictive tools at this point, nothing more.  They will likely advance beyond that at some point, but we are nowhere near that point now.  The real danger is that people may believe we are, and accept erroneous or dubious outputs from the tool as gospel truth, and make decisions accordingly.

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