ChatGPT – an actually disruptive new technology.

Magic. This is the first word sailing with haste through my brain after witnessing ChatGPT effortlessly write reasoned responses to my questions and prompts.

For the uninitiated, ChatGPT is an A.I. powered chatbot built on top of large language models (sometimes called LLMs) that enables a user to prompt and question it through a human-centric conversation approach.

For example, you can ask it questions like “What does this PHP code do?” or “Write me an essay on five things to look out for when driving at night.” and it’ll return highly useful, though not always accurate, answers.

Since inception, I’ve used it nearly daily to help with laborious code tasks or data processing. For example handing it some XML and asking it to convert it to CSV – it can do this quite well. Using it to rapidly build code needed to interact with different web service APIs has also proven to be of significant value.

Beyond coding, it’s helped me research legal issues, distill long text into shorter text, build a schedule, it’s even produced an Age of Empires II build order for what buildings to build and units to generate, in a supposedly strategic fashion, for the popular RTS game. (Note to reader: the build order it provided wasn’t particularly useful, but it proves how flexible this tool can be.)

It’s been a long time since anything in the tech space has truly seemed innovative to me. I understand some utility exists with Bitcoin and the related blockchain technology, but I’d hardly call it disruptive. The same could be said for the Metaverse, wearables, 5G, etc. You’ll find plenty of hype for these technologies. I’m glad they exist – but they haven’t really shifted my workflows in any meaningful way. To date, they’ve carved out some efficiency gains, but not really shifted how I work.

ChatGPT is a completely different story. And I’m here for it. I pay for their premium service and use this tool throughout the day.

That being said, there’s a few things I would keep in mind as you utilize this in your personal life or business:

  • There’s no expectation of privacy on ChatGPT. Anything you enter is subject to review to assist in training the AI and improving the underlying model. Definitely do not provide the bot anything sensitive such as proprietary code, trade secrets, HIPPA/PCI data, etc.
  • It’s a proprietary closed source program. We don’t know what it’s doing under the hood with your questions. For all we know, it’s using these to build the most accurate advertising profiles to date and selling them to the highest bidder. When the code source is closed, anything goes.
  • It hallucinates (improvises/lies) about facts and information constantly. Don’t assume that just because it said something that it’s true. Don’t assume the code it produced is going to work out of the box. In many cases, it doesn’t, especially if your prompt wasn’t tuned well for an optimal response.

Alas, even with these downsides, it’s still an extremely useful tool in the belt for my line of work. Be aware of the limitations, but I also wouldn’t delay creating an account and becoming familiar with how this new technology works. It’ll only get better from here.

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