Experiment shows AI’s shortcomings, dangers

For a lark, I tried ChatGPT just to see what this alleged “artificial intelligence” had to offer. As most of my readers know, I’m queer and into Leather/BDSM. So, having some knowledge in this area, I decided to see what ChatGPT knew about it.

First I did a cursory question about Leather and BDSM in general. What it delivered was a “boiler plate” cautionary statement about consent and limits and dangers of what we do — nothing I wouldn’t tell people in my classes and lectures, but it certainly wasn’t engaging or natural sounding.

I explored further, and, finally, my vanity got the best of me: I asked it about me.

To my disappointment, the AI knew nothing about me.

Considering there is a whole lot of info about me out there on the web, as well as a Wikipedia entry, I came to the conclusion that this artificial intelligence was pretty much artificial.

But I persisted. I told it about me and gave it a few details, then I decided to test out the creative writing abilities of the program. I asked it to tell me a story about me.

First of all, the story was written in the past tense, noting that I had died in 1992. Then it went on to expound on my career and even mentioned that I was instrumental in the forming of the International Mister Leather contest.

Both these “facts” are untrue, especially the part about my demise.

I found that, when faced with queer subjects, the AI doesn’t quite know what to say. Most any discussion of sex goes outside the limits of what ChatGPT was programmed to discuss. In short, AI is a prude and marginally homophobic.

This doesn’t bode well for anyone who is exploring their sexuality and wanting more information on LGBTQ matters beyond historical tidbits. To be fair, that may change. But at this point it’s an issue.

At this point, the programs I’ve seen are basically enhanced search engines, but they aspire to more. Since that brief test, I have seen numerous ads touting the writing abilities of AI and how it can quickly and economically deliver advertising copy, blog posts and presentations. I can only imagine what kind of drivel these programs would deliver. And aside from putting writers out of work, they are making us into mere consumers and not creators.

That is an existential problem.

If society relies on AI to create and produce its literature, much less its images and art, we will lose the defining spark of humankind: creativity. We may

well become just passive “ingesters” of words and pictures generated by AI in order to feed our desire to consume.

We will lose the power to inspire and persuade, the drive to create and explore, the very thing that makes us human.

The fact that AI can spit out text and pictures is truly amazing. But if we rely on it too much, we may become mere servants of the machines that we created.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board chair for the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.