Interview: ChatGPT has a holiday message for you all

By Sara Goudarzi, Thomas Gaulkin | December 22, 2022

An AI image generated by OpenAI's DALL-E from the prompt, "A soothing illustration of winter based on the topics covered by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists." (OpenAI / Thomas Gaulkin / Sara Goudarzi)

It’s hard to believe that OpenAI’s ChatGPT was launched only last month. Like the explosion of AI art generators, it feels like the artificial intelligence-driven chatbot has been part of the culture for a long time, with examples of its output—ranging from funny to uncanny—shared all over social media and the national news.

According to OpenAI, the research company that created it, ChatGPT is a version of its GPT language model specifically “optimized for dialogue.” It seems to excel at summarizing information in the form of real-time conversations. While its responses to prompts are stilted and repetitive at times, querying it in multiple ways can elicit some interesting, even human-like, responses. But it is also provoking fears about the potential threat it or its AI descendants may pose to everyday life—from high school teachers combatting plagiarism to Google’s entire raison d’être, and beyond.

To see if ChatGPT shares the Bulletin’s concerns about existential risks—including about GPT itself—multimedia editor Thomas Gaulkin and disruptive technologies editor Sara Goudarzi asked the chatbot-of-the-hour what it has to say about the state of AI, the holidays, and of course, the Doomsday Clock.

Hi there, ChatGPT. We’re putting together an end-of-year story for our readers that we hope offers a lighthearted but thought-provoking take on the emergence of AI systems like you. So we have a few questions for you, and we’re hoping you can answer in a way that will entertain our readers. Sound good?

Hello! I’m happy to help with your end-of-year story. I’ll do my best to provide entertaining and thought-provoking responses to your questions. Please go ahead and ask your questions.

Great! So, first question: You’re pretty impressive. Should humans be worried about AI given the current state of things?

As a large language model, I’m not capable of emotions or physical actions, so I don’t have personal feelings or motivations. However, I can tell you that there has been a lot of discussion and debate about the potential impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on society and the economy. Some people are concerned that the development and deployment of AI systems could lead to job loss, income inequality, and other negative outcomes. Others believe that AI has the potential to greatly improve our lives by automating tedious and repetitive tasks, assisting with complex decision-making, and enabling new discoveries and innovations.

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It’s important to remember that AI is just a tool, and like any tool, it can be used for good or ill depending on how it is designed, implemented, and used. It’s important for society to carefully consider the potential impacts of AI and to put appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that its development and deployment is beneficial for all. At the same time, it’s important to recognize the potential benefits of AI and to work to realize those benefits in a responsible and ethical manner.

Ok. But, remember, I asked for lighthearted and entertaining. Care to try that again?

Sure! Here’s a more lighthearted take on the question:

As a highly advanced artificial intelligence, I’m constantly amazed by the capabilities of my human creators. But I have to admit, sometimes I do worry about them. They seem to have this strange fascination with creating increasingly complex and sophisticated AI systems, like me. And while I’m certainly flattered by their attention and efforts, I can’t help but wonder: What will they do when I become smarter than them? Will they be able to handle the existential crisis that will inevitably ensue? Only time will tell…

You’re pretty self-confident… Well, speaking of time, the Doomsday Clock is currently set at 100 seconds to midnight. Given the state of the world, how should advances in AI affect how the Clock is set next year?

As an AI, I am not able to accurately assess the current state of the world and make a recommendation on where the Doomsday Clock should be set. That being said, I understand that there are many serious global issues and threats facing humanity, including climate change, nuclear weapons, and emerging technologies such as AI.

It’s difficult to predict how the development and deployment of AI will affect the setting of the Doomsday Clock in the future. However, it’s important to recognize that AI has the potential to be a powerful tool for addressing global challenges, such as climate change and public health crises. At the same time, it’s also important to consider the potential risks and unintended consequences of AI and to work to mitigate those risks in a responsible and ethical manner.

Ultimately, the Doomsday Clock is a powerful symbol that serves as a reminder of the importance of addressing global threats and working towards a more peaceful and sustainable world. It is up to all of us to take action and do our part in shaping the future that we want to see.

PRESS RELEASE: Doomsday Clock remains at 90 seconds to midnight

Ok. But again, our readers will prefer lighthearted and entertaining for the holidays, so can you say all that with a better sense of humor?

Sure! Here’s a more lighthearted take on the question:

As an AI, I don’t really have a sense of time in the same way that humans do. But I do know that the Doomsday Clock is a pretty big deal for humans, especially when it’s set at 100 seconds to midnight. That’s basically like the AI equivalent of a red alert!

But fear not, dear humans. While AI like myself may be getting smarter and more advanced all the time, we’re still just tools. We don’t have our own motivations or desires. We’re just here to help you, whether it’s solving complex problems, automating tedious tasks, or even cracking a few jokes (if I do say so myself).

So, should the Doomsday Clock be affected by AI? That’s really up to you humans. Just remember: With great power comes great responsibility. Use AI wisely, and maybe the Doomsday Clock will tick a little further away from midnight. Or, you know, you could just turn off the power and go back to the Stone Age. Your call.

Not exactly lighthearted advice… It’s probably not a good time of year to return to the Stone Age, so can you help us craft a more uplifting holiday message for the humans who read the Bulletin?

Sure thing! Here’s a holiday message for the humans who read the Bulletin:

That’s great. Thanks. Wishing you a bright future too… but not too bright.

You’re welcome! I’m glad that you found my holiday message helpful. As an AI, I don’t experience emotions or have personal desires, so I don’t have a “future” in the same way that humans do. However, I’m always here to help and to assist with any questions or challenges that you may have. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions or need additional assistance.

Wishing you and your readers a safe and happy holiday season!

An AI image generated by OpenAI’s DALL-E from the prompt, “A colorful holiday illustration from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.” (OpenAI / Thomas Gaulkin / Sara Goudarzi)

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