Machine Learning Times
Machine Learning Times
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8 months ago
How Google Taught AI To Doubt Itself

Originally published in The Verge, Sept 20, 2023.  

Today let’s talk about an advance in Bard, Google’s answer to ChatGPT, and how it addresses one of the most pressing problems with today’s chatbots: their tendency to make things up.

From the day that the chatbots arrived last year, their makers warned us not to trust them. The text generated by tools like ChatGPT does not draw on a database of established facts. Instead, chatbots are predictive — making probabilistic guesses about which words seem right based on the massive corpus of text that their underlying large language models were trained on.

As a result, chatbots are often “confidently wrong,” to use the industry’s term. And this can fool even highly educated people, as we saw this year with the case of the lawyer who submitted citations generated by ChatGPT — not realizing that every single case had been fabricated out of whole cloth.

This state of affairs explains why I find chatbots mostly useless as research assistants. They’ll tell you anything you want, often within seconds, but in most cases without citing their work. As a result, you wind up spending a lot of time researching their answers to see whether they’re true — often defeating the purpose of using them at all.

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