Chat GPT: A vital tool or a creativity killer? | Sunday Observer

Chat GPT: A vital tool or a creativity killer?

19 March, 2023

In the age of advanced communication technology, it is easy to forget the pioneers who laid the foundation for the sophisticated tools and theories that we take for granted today. David Berlo’s SMCR (Source/Sender Message Channel Receiver) is one such theory that continues to be relevant to this day. Developed in 1960, at a time when computers were rare and technology was primitive, SMCR remains a fundamental reference point for any discussion on communication theory.

This reference to SMCR is particularly relevant to our current discussion on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the context of Sri Lanka. While the country boasts a range of degree and diploma courses that specialise in this subject, it is important to also consider the receiving end of this technology. This includes those who may not have a background in AI and may not be familiar with the technicalities of the subject. Therefore, we need to have discussions and initiatives that help bridge this gap and enable a wider audience to understand and engage with AI.

Sri Lankan context

Are we, Sri Lankans, making the proper use of Artificial Intelligence?

Sri Lanka has made significant progress in the field over the past few years. The country has established itself as a hub for tech startups and innovation, with numerous initiatives aimed at promoting AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies.

One notable example is the Sri Lanka Association for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (SLAAI), which was established to promote and support the development of AI and ML in the country. The Association has organised various events, workshops, and training programs to educate and train students, researchers, and professionals in the field of AI. The Government has also taken steps to promote the use of AI in various sectors such as healthcare, education, and agriculture.

There was a time when mastery of English was essential to stay updated on global events. However, now, with the speed at which news spreads, even Sinhala-only readers can quickly get informed. Take the example of Chat GPT; while it gained global popularity, it also made waves on local platforms, including Sinhala YouTube channels. Tech-savvy individuals worked hard to convey Chat GPT’s concepts in Sinhala, resulting in a Sri Lankan version of the chatbot being available for Sinhala speakers to communicate with.

Efficient process

Chat GPT is no longer a hot subject. Yet, it is still relevant and worth discussing. When our ancestors first encountered typewriters, they likely thought writing had become more accessible. Similarly, with computers and word processors, the writing process became easier. We never forgot the fact that writing requires basic knowledge of letters and ideas to convey. Typewriters and computers simply made the writing process more efficient, but we still needed something to write about. Starting with a blank page, we had to fill it with our thoughts and ideas by typing them in. None of these technical devices came in for straight assistance when writers had to struggle with writer’s block.

Chat GPT presents a unique solution to writer’s block. For example, if someone is struggling to write an article and has no ideas, they can simply ask Chat GPT. For instance, I typed in a prompt “Give me an article about Artificial Intelligence” on Chat GPT. A while later, I made the request more specific: “Give me an article about Artificial Intelligence in Sri Lanka.” Then, Chat GPT was generous enough to generate a 540-word article.

Let me produce the first paragraph:

“AI is still a nascent technology in Sri Lanka, but there are several initiatives under way to promote its development. The government has recognised the importance of AI and has launched several programs to support research and development in this field.”

Incredibly easy

ChatGPT is performing a role akin to that of computers during the 21st century and the internet during the turn of the millennium. The introduction of Chat GPT has revolutionised the writing process and most other tasks making it incredibly easy. Software engineers have been bowled over by Chat GPT’s ability to debug code effectively. What sets Chat GPT apart from previous bots is its reliability and credibility. Past bots often produced unreliable results, but Chat GPT’s advanced AI technology ensures that its outputs are trustworthy and dependable (mind these two keywords, I’m coming to them later in this essay). It’s no surprise that Chat GPT quickly became the talk of the town upon its entry last year.

Chat GPT’s intelligence is undoubtedly impressive, and it has been discussed as potentially replacing jobs in fields like software engineering, academics, and writing.

While we bask in the luxurious comfort offered by ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence tools, let’s not turn a blind eye to the fact that emotional intelligence is just as essential.

AI may aid us in our work and streamline our processes, but various facets of human work demand emotional intelligence, and it cannot be wholly supplanted by AI. Whether AI will ever be capable of replicating emotional intelligence remains uncertain; however, for the time being, we can ONLY depend on AI to support us in our work, and not wholly rely on it. Similar to how typewriters and computers alleviated our workload, ChatGPT can also assist us in our work without entirely replacing the need for emotional intelligence. Therefore, those who work with intricate designs can take solace in the fact that ChatGPT has not yet rendered their skills redundant and they remain indispensable.

Despite being a highly advanced AI system capable of delivering trustworthy data, Chat GPT is still susceptible to errors and may provide incorrect information. Chat GPT cannot be considered the infallible oracle of truth. As advanced as it may be, this AI system is not yet immune to mistakes and may spit out the wrong information.

I once tasked Chat GPT to conjure up an academic article with references on a particular topic, and it dazzled me with its output - an extensive piece of almost a thousand words, complete with references. But upon closer examination, I realised that the references appeared unfamiliar, and I couldn’t pin down the sources cited. That’s when I made up my mind to cross-check them online, only to find out that the references were esoteric and the sources were nowhere to be found on the internet.

Ever since Chat GPT hit the scene, various new software has emerged to detect Chat GPT-generated text. While some tech gurus contend that Chat GPT is not fool-proof, I’ve noticed a certain monotony in Chat GPT’s output. It has a tendency to lean heavily on words like ‘additionally’ and ‘overall,’ which can make it stand out like a sore thumb.

Move forward

Allow me to make myself clear - I’m not trying to badmouth Chat GPT. In fact, I believe it’s a critical tool that helps move us forward.

But here’s the catch: using Chat GPT can be a bit tricky. It’s so addictive that it could hamper our creativity if we become overly reliant on it. With chatbots providing quick solutions, the temptation of instant gratification can be too much to resist. But this convenience comes at a cost - it stifles our creative problem-solving skills and discourages us from taking risks and thinking outside the box.

This is especially problematic for tasks that require creativity, such as crafting an artwork, devising an advertising campaign, and writing research-oriented content.

Double-edged sword

ChatGPT’s convenience can be a double-edged sword - while it can save time and effort, it also removes the need for persistence and self-motivation.

But without these qualities, progress and development become impossible. Over-reliance on ChatGPT can even hinder the innovative thinking required for making groundbreaking discoveries or achieving personal growth.

So, exercise caution when using Chat GPT and do not get swept up by the hype surrounding it. The notion that AI has displaced certain jobs is a hot topic in Sinhala-language YouTube channels, but it doesn’t seem to get as much traction in non-Sinhala channels.

The fact I see is, Chat GPT is unlikely to replace jobs that require emotional intelligence for intricate designs - at least not anytime soon.

We ought to treat Chat GPT as a helping hand, not a crutch. Relying solely on Chat GPT is strictly a no-go. We need to use our own smart common sense when dealing with AI-smart tools.