In a case of life imitating art, the very thing I’ve been fictionalizing in my books has come to pass in the form of Chat GPT — the conversational artificial intelligence that has taken the world by storm with its extraordinary knowledge and abilities.
How do I feel about this? Mixed, would be the answer.
On the one hand, I have to accept the possibility that the robot might finally be coming for my job, but fortunately… not for quite a while yet. ChatGPT might be good, but it’s nowhere near the level of a half decent creative writer. Phew!!!
On the other hand, it’s an incredibly useful research tool. As you can imagine, the type of books that I write require a considerable amount of research. This involves trawling through Google searches and reading a ton of documentation, some of which can be technically dense. And after all that I might only use 10% of the information or less.
But with ChatGPT I simply ask it a question, ‘explain the functioning of a hydrogen fuel cell’, and right away I get specific answer. Not only that, I can then drill down on that response, ‘how is the hydrogen stored’, ‘what materials are used for cryogenic storage tanks’, etc. It’s no wonder that the good folks over at Google have just pressed the big red panic button!
That said, the answers ChatGPT produces need to be double checked for accuracy — and its knowledge base only extends to 2021, it has no information on events after that date.
But what fascinates me the most is how closely this new AI research companion resembles the AI character, DOA, in my new series, Moon Base Delta. In the first book, Solar Storm, I briefly introduce this character, but it plays a much more prominent role in the second book, Resource Control. It too is a conversational AI with a vast knowledge base, and like ChatGPT, it too is hampered by large gaps in what it knows. For ChatGPT this is because it has no knowledge of events after 2021 — that’s where the model stops. For my AI character, it has a fifteen year gap in its information store which has implications for the intrepid crew that have taken refuge in Moon Base Delta.
Considering that this ‘gap’ is an AI character trait that I had developed long before ChatGPT burst on to the scene, it’s eery how fast science fiction becomes science fact. For Renton, Alice, and the crew the ramifications of their increasing reliance on a flawed AI becomes existential — fortunately this is fiction. But what would be the future of human civilization if we were to become reliant on flawed AI?
Just a thought.