Artificial Intelligence, or “A.I.,” is all the rage and will be for years to come. Already, you experience A.I. when Google does a search, when you speak to a machine instead of a human, when Amazon knows what you ordered last (or might like to), when your system has spellcheck (especially Grammarly), when a browser translates other languages (including Swahili), when Siri or Alexa tell you the weather, when Mapquest or Google Maps design car route for you, when your cars knows where to steer (if you have a Tesla!), and so forth. The list is growing long.
But nothing, in recent years, has grabbed attention like ChatGPT — a new program under the umbrella of a firm called Open A.I. One of the founding financiers: Elon Musk, of course. ChatGPT is amazing in the true, and potentially chilling, sense of the word. Like Google, you enter text, hit a button labeled “submit,” and your question or request is answered virtually instantly, in more comprehensive and detailed form than you get from a Google search or anything else.
In fact, so concerned is Google about ChatGPT that it called an emergency “Code Red” company meeting last month.
The reason for all the hullabaloo? While Google is astonishing enough (thousands and sometimes millions of search results, at the press of your “enter” key or a click on that little magnifying glass), ChatGPT takes automated “thinking” a magnitude higher — formulating long answers in a number of paragraphs with well-written syntax and excellent grammar. Soon, it’s projected, ChatGPT will be able to pass medical licensing and bar exams, if it can’t already.
You put something like, “Write an essay on the Russian Orthodox Church” — or for that matter the history of a local restaurant — and presto: hundreds of words materialize on the screen in neat properly punctuated prose. While it can formulate misinformation (if it is drawing from incorrect data), they’re working on such imperfections. It can even imitate the style of famous writers, having “studied” millions of on-line sources.
Astonishingly, a researcher for CBS asked the program to “Tell the Goldilocks story in the style of the King James Bible.” The result:
Or type in, “Write a limerick about the effect of AI on humanity.”
Already, they have been programming robots to wait on restaurant tables. Already, in many cases, warehouse robots pluck items from the shelves (at Amazon) and package them. A rabbi in New York already has used A.I. to write a sermon, begging the question: Will a robot soon replace clergy?
Perhaps not so farfetched a question in humanist denominations.
We asked ChatGPT to “write a prayer to God.” Its response:
“Dear God, We come before you today in prayer, filled with gratitude and praise for all that you have done. We thank you for your presence in our lives, and we thank you for the many blessings you have provided. We ask that you continue to be with us and guide us in our lives. Help us to be mindful of your love and grace, and grant us the strength to face the challenges of life with courage and faith. We pray for all those in need, that you may grant them comfort and peace. Give us the wisdom to be of service to those less fortunate, that we may be instruments of your love and care. Finally, we thank you for this special time together, and ask that you continue to watch over us and protect us. In Jesus‘ Name we pray. Amen.”
And a second one:
“We come to you today in humble prayer, seeking Your Grace and Mercy. We thank you for all that You have blessed us with and ask that You continue to guide us and protect us from harm.
“We ask that You give us strength and courage to face our daily challenges. Help us to remain strong in our faith, so that we may be a light for others.
“Give us the wisdom to make good decisions and to have faith in ourselves. Lead us to be kind, patient, and forgiving, especially when it is hard.
“We know that You are with us at all times, and we thank You for that. We ask that You keep us safe from all harm and danger, and protect us from all evil.
“In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.”
Not bad (we didn’t tell it we were Christian) — though we’ll stick to the Missal and Pieta Prayer Book.