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Hey ChatGPT, Be my Oracle, my Mirror, my Research Intern (!?)

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Many are twisting themselves into a pretzel trying to define ChatGPT, the reality is interesting, but less dramatic

By now you probably know about the AI chatbot that hit the scene with a dramatic upgrade on December 15th 2022. Many articles dissect the performance looking for flaws or wonders.

While both are relatively easy to find, the bottom line, for someone primarily working with text and language (there are other articles on coding, and graphic uses that I won’t get into here) is that it is a powerful, useful tool that needs a lot of human management (yay for humans).

There are obvious stated limitations, some of which might well have been added intentionally. The main limitation is that the data and learning has a hard cutoff date of 2021. That means, for example, that statistics for the year 2021 that are routinely compiled, once the year is over, are 100% not available. In some cases even 2020 is a stretch.

This also means, obviously, that anything related to current events or the what the media industry calls “news” is completely off limits.

The other oft cited and obvious limitation is that the darn thing is not god, in other words it is known to be wrong at times. In some cases very wrong.

The Pythian priestess or even the Oracle of Delphi it’s not, but wait a minute…

Many would digest the limitations listed above (which are certainly not the only ones) and think “fuggeddiboutit”: not ready for prime time.

But if you take a step back and think – it’s actually much more useful to have a tool that does what you want – but only if you ask the right question for the right reasons.

Think of it like a very energetic intern or research assistant that has already done the research and can spit out responses instantly (as fast as it can “type). And. If you ask a question that is too vague or general, you will get a boring, generic, bland pile of junk text.

On the other hand, if you go through logical steps that take into account the limitations listed above – for example – only ask about something that you know a lot about so that you will notice if there are errors, ask about something that is “evergreen” and not dependent on anything that’s happened since around 2021, and try to be extremely specific, and break things down into steps – you can get some interesting results that can be very useful.

A few examples of ChatGPT in action

Human:

Can you write a 500 word article on the history of bulldozers in the gonzo style of Hunter S. Thomson

ChatGPT:

Ah, bulldozers. Those mighty machines that have transformed the landscape of our world and shaped the way we build and destroy. But where did these behemoths of metal and horsepower come from? Let’s take a journey through the history of bulldozers, Gonzo-style.

It all starts with a man named Benjamin Holt, who in the late 1800s was trying to figure out a way to improve the efficiency of his agricultural machinery company. One day, while driving his steam-powered tractor through a muddy field, he noticed that the tracks of the tractor were sinking into the ground. This gave him the idea to create a machine with a blade attached to the front that could push dirt and debris out of the way. And thus, the first bulldozer was born.

But this was just the beginning. As the 20th century rolled on, bulldozers evolved and became more powerful and versatile. In the 1930s, Caterpillar introduced the first diesel-powered bulldozer, and in the 1950s, they introduced the first hydraulic bulldozer, which allowed operators to control the blade with greater precision and power.

Bulldozers were used in a variety of industries, from construction and mining to agriculture and forestry. But it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that bulldozers really came into their own as symbols of destruction and progress.

Enter Hunter S. Thompson, the godfather of Gonzo journalism. Thompson was a man who loved nothing more than to stick it to the man and write about it in his own unique, wild style. And in the 1960s and 1970s, there was no better way to stick it to the man than to write about bulldozers tearing down neighborhoods and wiping out entire ecosystems in the name of progress.

Thompson’s articles and books about bulldozers were filled with vivid descriptions of the destruction they wrought and the people who wielded them like weapons. He saw bulldozers as symbols of the corrupt and greedy forces that were tearing down the world in the name of progress.

But even as Thompson raged against the machines, he couldn’t help but be drawn to their raw power and the thrill of the ride. In one famous passage from his book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” he describes a joyride in a bulldozer through the desert as “a kind of ultimate high, the way the thing just gobbled up the sand and rocks and spit them out behind you in a rooster tail of pure anarchy.”

In the end, bulldozers will always be a symbol of progress and destruction, a tool that can shape the world in ways both good and bad. And as long as there are people like Hunter S. Thompson around to write about them, they will always be a source of fascination and controversy. So let’s raise a glass to the mighty bulldozer, that hulking beast of metal and horsepower that has shaped our world and our imaginations.

Or follow a chain of inventions to the present day:

Human:

What type of solar system is Ivanpah? Cite references.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a concentrated solar power (CSP) plant located in the Mojave Desert in California. CSP is a type of solar energy technology that uses mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight onto a small area to generate electricity. There are several different types of CSP systems, including parabolic troughs, linear fresnel reflectors, and solar towers. Ivanpah uses solar towers, which use large mirrors called heliostats to reflect sunlight onto a receiver on top of a tall tower. The receiver absorbs the concentrated sunlight and converts it into heat, which is then used to generate electricity through a steam turbine.

Reference:

“Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IvanpahSolarElectricGeneratingSystem

Human:

When was the mirror system used for Ivanpah invented and by whom. Cite references.

The mirror system used at Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System was invented by the German engineer Arnold Shoeneberg in the early 1900s. Shoeneberg’s design was inspired by the work of the French scientist Augustin Mouchot, who had developed a similar system in the 1860s.

Shoeneberg’s design, which used a parabolic mirror to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver, was first demonstrated at a solar energy conference in Berlin in 1904. It was later refined and improved by other engineers, and eventually became the basis for the concentrated solar power (CSP) technology that is used at Ivanpah and other CSP plants around the world.

References:

“Arnold Shoeneberg.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArnoldShoeneberg

“Concentrated Solar Power.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentratedsolarpower

Human:

What prior inventions was Augustin Mouchot’s system in the 1860s based on

Augustin Mouchot’s system in the 1860s, which used a parabolic mirror to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver, was based on the work of several earlier inventors and scientists.

One of the key influences on Mouchot’s work was the design of a solar steam engine developed by the French scientist Nicolas-Léonard-Sadi Carnot in the early 1800s. Carnot’s design used a concave mirror to focus sunlight onto a receiver, which was then used to generate steam that drove a turbine.

Mouchot’s design was also influenced by the work of the British scientist John Herschel, who had developed a similar system in the 1840s. Herschel’s system used a parabolic mirror to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver, which was then used to heat water and generate steam.

Overall, Mouchot’s system was based on the principles of solar thermal energy, which had been explored and developed by several inventors and scientists throughout the 19th century.

References:

“Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NicolasL%C3%A9onardSadiCarnot

“John Herschel.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JohnHerschel

Famous last words

Human:

Write a 400 word article on the premise: humans will learn to work with AI and use its help to become more creative and free

ChatGPT:

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to advance and become more integrated into our daily lives, many people are concerned about the potential negative impacts it could have on society. Some fear that AI will take over jobs and lead to widespread unemployment, while others worry about the ethical implications of machines becoming more intelligent than humans.

However, there is also a compelling argument that AI has the potential to help humans become more creative and free. By working with AI and leveraging its capabilities, we can free ourselves from the constraints of traditional ways of thinking and allow our creativity to flourish.

One way that AI can help humans become more creative is by taking on tedious and time-consuming tasks, allowing us to focus on more meaningful and innovative work. For example, AI can be used to analyze and interpret large data sets, freeing up human analysts to concentrate on developing new insights and ideas.

AI can also help humans to think more creatively by providing access to a vast pool of information and resources. With the help of AI, we can quickly and easily find and synthesize information from a wide variety of sources, opening up new avenues for exploration and inspiration.

In addition, AI can help humans to break free from the biases and limitations of our own perspectives. By providing objective and unbiased analysis, AI can help us to see things from new angles and consider alternative viewpoints, leading to more creative and innovative solutions.

Overall, the key to realizing the full potential of AI as a creative tool is to work with it rather than against it. By embracing AI and leveraging its capabilities, we can free ourselves from the constraints of traditional ways of thinking and allow our creativity to flourish. As we continue to advance and develop new technologies, it is essential that we take a collaborative approach and work together to create a better future for all of us.

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