ChatGPT Says

The world’s favourite chatbot has become something of a household name across the last few months. Here’s what a few curious Indians have taken back from their conversations with the new AI on the block

By Sharan Sanil and Suman Mahfuz Quazi

Flipping through these pages as one among the dwindling cohort of print readers, you might be thinking if print is dead. But ask ChatGPT and the answer is a resounding, ‘No’. The artificial intelligence chatbot seems to have had all the answers for netizens since its launch in November, 2022. But are they the right answers?

Developed by OpenAI, the chatbot is a large language model (LLM) that uses a combination of ‘supervised’ and ‘reinforcement learning’ techniques to help users with responses to prompts fed by them, kind of like a search engine, but (possibly?) better. The goal is to help have human-like conversations and ultimately use it as a tool for various needs from content generation to tweaking codes. It has had enough traction to find its way into common parlance and dinner-table conversations,— it’s what Clubhouse and IG Live felt like in the middle of the pandemic. Recent updates have ramped up the AI’s ability to process more words, understand images, write compilable code and even access the Internet independently, opening up its database to current news articles, research papers, and other information sources such as social media platforms.

Despite reaching 100 million users within two months of its release, one of ChatGPT’s biggest drawbacks continues to be uneven factual accuracy. So, we spoke to a few Indians — from the founder of a digital agency and a humanities student to a childrens’ education expert — to understand if the popular AI tool is really helpful. And if so, in what ways?

DALREEN RAMOS, 26

Student
Ramos’ first brush with ChatGPT came when she was working with an AI writing service company, before she left for Germany to pursue an MA in North American studies. “I was already familiar with OpenAI. I was required to use it for work purposes, so GPT wasn’t really a surprise. I found it to be similar to the AI I was using at work. I just thought it was fun and exciting, when your task was simple and you have limited tasks,” she tells us, talking about how the tool can be frustrating to use over extended periods of time. Since becoming familiar with the chatbot, Ramos has used it while working on her term papers and even for Instagram captions. “I was just sick of having to think of it. So, I asked ChatGPT to throw some ideas and I even described the picture, but the results were really cringeworthy. Like, I wouldn’t be caught dead using #bossbabe, ever,” she quips, adding that in her experience, the tool has been equal parts helpful and unhelpful. Even so, for Ramos, ChatGPT’s uses remain limited because “you can just find solutions in the time you spend typing that much.” But more importantly, because it “Deprives you of the human experience — to be a thinking, conscious and curious individual.”

GAUTAM SATI, 24

Founder, Dox.exe
As the man at the helm of a contemporary digital marketing and Web 3.0 agency, Sati finds many uses for the AI tool in his daily work flow. “It felt like I was in science fiction, because a chatbot this intelligent was available to anyone on the Internet to be used for almost anything,” he shares, describing his first experience of using ChatGPT. Sati has used the tool to write about mobile gaming, for proofreading, and quick content generation, including for fun, like one time, where he asked the AI to write poems and stories on popular quotes. “Although I use it a lot in my workflow, I have to say, my favourite helpful feature is that it is able to write computer code in many languages. It can not only be used to generate code, but also for proofreading it, which makes a huge difference and lets anyone write code or find errors. This makes the whole process faster, too,” he adds.

AASHNA SHAH, 26

Designer/Educator, Early Years Learning
Initially drawn to ChatGPT after a conversation with a friend from Seattle, Shah’s immediate reaction — like many of us — was to test its efficacy at automating work. “It seemed pretty easy and straightforward; you ask questions and it answers, I was surprised to see its nuance in written language, when it comes to tone and syntax. However, some information was repetitive and it added a bunch of fluff, when information wasn’t available,” she concedes. While initially testing its efficacy at writing articles, Shah has also used it as a way to power through a creative block. “I’ll ask questions to induce a roadmap for me about the topic I’m struggling with,” she explains. “It answers questions with multiple approaches, or options, I guess. It helps your mind think of other things to research about.” Despite this, as an educator, she feels that ChatGPT is seriously flawed, and represents a risk to children as plagiarism becomes a common concern. “[It fails at] thorough research and good, emotional writing. It’s just not the way people should write or research, in my opinion, and it can be detrimental to all the young kids using it.”

TANVI KANCHAN, 26

PHD Candidate
“So I first came across ChatGPT while browsing TikToks and Twitter, and saw people talking about how it’s going to ‘change the world’,” shares Kanchan. She quickly tested it with a few sample questions, but wasn’t too impressed with the answers. Still curious, Kanchan decided to test the waters with research-related work. “I tried to see if it could generate citations for me based on a particular method. The citation generated was incorrect, which I would have not known, if I hadn’t known how to do the referencing style in the first place. For academic research specifically, I’m concerned about the fact that ChatGPT generates nonsense citations that don’t exist, or generates information within a paper that doesn’t exist,” she cautions, noting how AI-based research currently has flaws that might affect the world of academia. “I think it’s a tool that can be used to help with some of the heavy-lifting involved with work, but I don’t think it can accomplish nuanced tasks effectively,” Kanchan concludes.

KABEER KHAN, 26

PR Manager
Like many media professionals, Khan picked up on the ChatGPT wave through friends and associates, who were early adopters back in late 2022. “I first explored ChatGPT, while looking for a few suggestions on creative ideas, but it did not seem really different from anything you can ask the usual Google search engine,” he shares. “The responses were basic and felt like they were AIgenerated. However, it helped to build a structure into our research, which is something everyone struggles with a lot of times, I feel.” While he claims that ChatGPT has now replaced Google as a ‘reliable’ alternative for work-related research, the real breakthrough came, when Khan realised the AI’s utility as a speechwriting assistant. “It comes in handy to find relevant talking points for the clients I service,” he explains. “Recently, one of my clients was giving a keynote speech at a global event and I took the help of ChatGPT to build their speech. Once I figured out the right talking points, it was unreal how excellent the speech turned out.” That said, he hasn’t found a lot of personal creative value yet with the AI tool, he says, lamenting how it made for a poor Urdu songwriting companion.

SHISHIR GUPTA, 61

Publisher, Educational Books
While most of the people on this list are in their twenties and largely looking for practical applications of AI, Gupta used the platform for a refreshingly cute reason— finding the words to share a romantic message to his wife, after discovering the platform through his son. While some have doubted ChatGPT’s ability to pen down emotions, he thinks otherwise, describing the effort as ‘astonishingly good’. “I attempted to write a love letter to my wife of 30 years, and chatGPT expressed my emotions with surprising abundance. Yet another creative attempt was a poem, again for my wife. It was rhythmically sound and expressive,” he shares. “It’s [absurd] how a robot could get a gist of what it is to be married for 30 years. The words were generic, yet expressive.” Gupta seems largely impressed by the AI’s ability to personalise its responses as well, and enjoyed giving it tasks such as writing essays on the history of independent India.

Reproduced with permission from Mansworldindia.com

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