What is important to remember is that chatbots are autocomplete tools. They’re systems trained on huge datasets of human text scraped from the web: on personal blogs, sci-fi short stories, forum discussions, movie reviews, social media diatribes, forgotten poems, antiquated textbooks, endless song lyrics, manifestos, journals, and more besides. These machines analyze this inventive, entertaining, motley aggregate and then try to recreate it. They are undeniably good at it and getting better, but mimicking speech does not make a computer sentient.
It is undeniably fun to talk to chatbots — to draw out different “personalities,” test the limits of their knowledge, and uncover hidden functions. Chatbots present puzzles that can be solved with words, and so, naturally, they fascinate writers. Talking with bots and letting yourself believe in their incipient consciousness becomes a live-action roleplay: an augmented reality game where the companies and characters are real, and you’re in the thick of it.
But in a time of AI hype, it’s dangerous to encourage such illusions. —The Verge
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