Eliza, ChatGPT3 and the GIGO Principle

The first time I met Eliza, I totally fell for her: fingers fumbling over keyboard.

Our introduction consisted of a flashing cursor. And me poised too eager as it turned out.

Until I typed in the sentence, “I’m in love with the other woman”.

And yes, a song with that title was everywhere at the time. Besides I didn’t have a girlfriend.

And Eliza purred back.

“Why are you in love with the other woman?”

And that is where I became lost. Because it was as if Eliza was listening to every word I said, I mean typed.

And she seemed to say what I needed to hear; I mean read.

But she knew, I mean her developer knew, how to respond to what I said.

silver iPhone X on brown surface
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Because as you may or may not have realised, Eliza was the first chatbot.

But like the chatbots that followed, their responses only depend upon the algorithm utilised by the software developer (in Eliza’s case, the one called Doctor) and the data garnered in their research.

And had I met Eliza some years later and typed in” How do I save my broken marriage?” She may not have had the knowledge to answer.

And now all I hear about is ChatGPT and how clever it is. Or isn’t as David Astle, crossword composer found out. And other examples are starting to abound.

Or worse, its Google rival, Bard: which botched a question about a space telescope.

And so, like a cynical lover, I shake my head in silent wonder. Again.

woman in blue umbrella in black trash bin
Photo by Oskar Kadaksoo on Unsplash

Because the same principle as has always applied in computing has recurred (and for all I know love too): garbage in means garbage out (GIGO).

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