Artificial Intelligence May Have Dementia

Author Jim HInckley signing books after leading a neon nights walking tour in Kingman, Arizona. Photo Anita Shaw

Well, I have been experimenting with Bing’s GPT-4, the highly touted artifical intelligence chat feature. I have come to the conclusion that in its current form this artifical intelligence may have dementia. Or, perhaps, it is simply lazy when it comes to research. In either case I am not impressed.

I decided to give it a trial run with a request that would not require me to spend time with fact checking. So, I selected “Compose” and requested “Biography author Jim Hinckley.” For tone I selected informational. Next I selected “”Blog Post” and long.

The response was quick. I learned that, “Hinckley was born in North Carolina in 1957, but moved to Arizona with his family when he was a teenager.” Well, I moved to Arizona in 1966, not exactly a teenager.

And I also learned that, “He began writing articles for magazines and newspapers, and later published his first book, The Big Book of Car Culture, in 2005.” My first book was about the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company. The Big Book of Car Culture was my second book.

“They have two grown children and four grandchildren. Hinckley is currently working on his next book, which will be a biography of Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford and a prominent figure in the automotive industry.” This paragraph was the biggest surprise.

I am not sure how to tell my wife that we have two grown children. For the last thirty four years she thought that we had just one son. To be honest, so did I.

As to the upcoming book about Edsel Ford, that is an excellent idea. I have long been a fan of Edsel, and his is a story that needs to told in detail.

But now I am worried about a pressing deadline. After all, I haven’t added a single word to the text file as yet, and I am not sure if the dealine is next week or next year. I don’t even know which publisher to contact for details.

This is not to say that artificial intelligence for research doesn’t have potential. But at this time I would feel more comfortable asking an aged grandfather that thinks Eisenhower is president and that his Edsel stock will be soon be worth a fortune that trust Bing’s artifical  intelligence.

Avid fans know that I am more comfortable with the technologies associated with the era of the Model A Ford than that of the 21st century. Still, technology and gadgets fascinate me. And I will grudgingly try new things. I will even use them if it saves time, or enhances my work.

With a bit of imagination, I can get excited about the future of artifical intelligence for research. But at this time it terrifies me. This is the errors of Wikipedia magnified exponentially. We live in an era when any conspiracy, no matter how outlandish, will be believed if it is presented as fact by someone masquerading as a journalist on an imitation news program, as a doctor on Facebook, or as a politician that cares about more than his own bank account and prestige.

I want to be excited about the future, and a world where AI makes the world of the author a tad bit easier. But between today and that rosy future, I am envisioning a some very bad things.