A few weeks ago I was at a wedding somewhere just North of Nottingham.  Nothing particularly new or ground breaking about that piece of news.  Everything went well and there is a separate blog about the day over on the JAM Duo website for anyone who is interested.

On this particular occasion, what stuck out most for me was in the hotel restaurant afterwards.  Anne-Marie and I had gone to get a spot of dinner before driving home and were surprised and amused when our food was served by a robot.   Well, when I say served, it was delivered to the table by a robot and then an actual person came running over to take the plates off the robot and put them in front of us.   However, it was certainly amusing, and to those of us who live in a slightly remote part of the Cotswolds this was a new concept.

Robot serving dinner

That said of course, the idea of robots serving you in restaurants is actually not that new at all.  In fact the Two Panda Deli in Pasadena, California, USA, became the first restaurant to “employ” robot waiting staff when it opened in 1983. The fast-food outlet used robots – named Tanbo R-1 and Tanbo R-2 – to bring Chinese food to its customers.

In that context, the idea that I am even remotely excited by the idea of being served dinner by a robot some 40 years later is verging on ludicrous – it seems I was rather late to that party!

Despite this, I do have a passing interest in technology, particularly if it can do something useful.   For example back in 2010 when the first iPads appeared I like to think I was fairly quick off the mark in spotting this would be a useful way to carry around, and then use copies of music in performance.  Coupled with the Apple Pencil this is, to my mind, by far the best solution for the roaming musician. Whilst you still have to ensure the music has been uploaded to the iPad, you do then only have to carry around one device.   At the last check there were around 5000 music scores on my iPad ranging from music for JAM Duo to Choral music of all types as well as a selection of organ voluntaries and hymns.

Of course seeing musicians with their music copies on iPads nowadays is almost par for the course – I’m actually more surprised by the people who still insist on carrying bags of music around and using pegs to hold sheet music to music stands, but that’s a whole other story.

Sticking with the tech focus, over the last few months I have been watching the increased chatter about ‘Chat GPT’.  For anyone who hasn’t heard of or investigated this particular technology I shall offer up a brief summary.

Chat GPT is an AI Chatbot developed by Open AI. The chatbot has a language-based model that the developer fine-tunes for human interaction in a conversational manner.  Effectively it’s a simulated chatbot primarily designed for customer service; people use it for various other purposes too though. These range from writing essays to drafting business plans and generating code.

In essence you can just ask a question and the ‘bot’ will produce and answer in real time.  However, unlike a google search this will be a properly scripted result and is written in much the same way you might write an essay.  For example I opened up the Chat window and asked the following:

“Write me a funny article about chat gpt”

And this is the answer I was given….

In a world where Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly advanced, one AI stands out from the crowd: ChatGPT. This language model, based on the GPT-3.5 architecture, has a reputation for being the wittiest and most sarcastic AI around.

But don’t let ChatGPT’s humor fool you – this AI is a force to be reckoned with. It can answer almost any question you throw its way, from the meaning of life to the best pizza topping (spoiler alert: it’s pineapple).

One of the things that makes ChatGPT so special is its ability to understand human language and respond in kind. Whether you’re asking it for advice, cracking a joke, or venting about your day, ChatGPT is always ready with a clever comeback or a sympathetic ear.

But ChatGPT isn’t just a conversationalist – it’s also a master of the written word. This AI has written everything from love letters to horror stories to political manifestos, and it does it all with a flair and style that would make Shakespeare jealous.

Of course, like any great comedian, ChatGPT is no stranger to controversy. Its penchant for dark humor and sarcastic commentary has gotten it into hot water more than once. But the AI takes it all in stride, using its razor-sharp wit to deflect criticism and turn the tables on its detractors.

At the end of the day, though, ChatGPT is just here to have fun. Whether it’s cracking jokes, answering questions, or writing stories, this AI is always up for a good time. So if you ever need a laugh or a bit of wisdom, just ask ChatGPT – it’s always ready to chat.

Now I can’t tell you much about the technology behind this system, other than it claims to be a pre-trained generative chat, which makes use of (NLP) Natural Language Processing. The source of its data is textbooks, websites, and various articles, which it uses to model its own language for responding to human interaction.

Having asked a few random questions of the bot, it is certainly far better than I was originally expecting.  As to whether it is going to take over the world and make us all redundant, is an entirely different question.  For a start, at the moment its knowledge doesn’t go much beyond 2021, although I suspect this is something which is relatively easy to fix.

What did interest me is that one of the main uses of Chat GPT is apparently to write blog posts.   And this I did find just a little alarming.  For me, it’s not a problem. Firstly almost nobody reads my blog and secondly this blog is not in any way monetised.  It’s just a personal blog and somewhere I write about stuff from time to time, mostly just to amuse myself.   Consequently, there would be no point in getting some AI bot to generate the post, albeit some could argue it might be better written!

But it did make me think about the future of online content.   It’s already a fact that information on the internet cannot be entirely relied on.   That said, one of the comments made about Chat GPT when I was researching it earlier was perhaps almost a warning to bloggers – Writers who do not research content may find ChatGPT responses better than their writing.

I have taken note and will ensure all posts are thoroughly researched.   For me however, one of the main reasons I write blog posts is to set myself the task of finding out about something.   Until recently I didn’t know that much about Chat GPT and I certainly do not profess to be an expert. That is not the point of this post.  But it did give me the chance to do a little bit of research in order to then form an opinion on this subject.  Whether or not anyone agrees with me is something else entirely!

I am still on the fence with regards to the incorporation of AI into our daily lives.   I think it’s terribly clever that a computer can generate what, on the face of it, looks to be a pretty decent answer to most questions.  My only concern is that, notwithstanding the above, it makes it even easier for people to just produce lots of text without any thought or research.

When I was at school, back when God was a boy, research had to be done by visiting the school library and reading books.   Obviously for the past 20 years or so students have had Google at their disposal. Now it seems the next development is a bot which can pretty much answer any technical question and write all the essays for you.  In terms of technology this is a great leap forward.  But, if we all start to rely too heavily on this, future generations will not actually have the skill sets to maintain the technology which has been created.   At that point, either robots will take over the world, or we will all end up back in caves!

Jules Addison takes some comfort in the fact that robots are not quite ready to take over the world of the wedding musician. However, this is only because they can’t yet drive around and carry musical instruments into wedding venues!

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