Chatbots are conquering the world, figuratively, but for some also really. This new technology, prepared for decades by developing artificial intelligence, neural networks and pattern recognition, has now entered the daily working environment of journalists, politicians, students, scientists and many others. On these pages, we’ve collected a set of links to understand what is going on, and commented on a short discussion with a chatbot on the issue of consciousness. Below we discuss chatbots from the perspective of their use. Are they toys or tools, are they a temptation or a threat? A more extensive discussion is published simultaneously.
It is great to chat with a knowledgeable, friendly person. A chatbot is not a person as many of them admit. However, they can be next best, are less demanding and have a large set of possibilities. At the moment several are already available, more to come. If nobody is around and you like to play with texts, ask for poems or pictures, and you don’t want to be annoyed by incomprehensible websites, then playing with a chatbot might be fun. It can be an adult toy, for people of various backgrounds, educations, professions and cultures.
If we are in need for information, are looking for examples, have to write a small or larger text, a chatbot may be of help. In future their possibilities and reliabilities will increase for sure. We will have learn how to deal with chatbots and how to use them properly. For many professions, like journalists, lawyers, scholars, students, teachers, performers, all who have to produce texts, a chatbot may be of help. As they depend on available texts used for training they are cultural dependent. This may offer us a great tool to compare cultures and languages by comparing answers generated by differently trained chatbots.
The temptation of toys and tools are both to use them. Toys are mainly for your own pleasure. With tools we may change the world around us. With internet tools one might try to change the world globally. These changes are directed to people, not to their physical needs, but to what they think, like or dislike. In short to their soul. There is definitely the temptation to use the toys and tools for the own pleasure as well as to apply them. With chatbots themselves as well as with what they produce people might be manipulated. They can be transformed into mental arms. Some people might be tempted to explore these possibilities largely.
The temptation of toys and tools is both to use them. Toys are mainly for your own pleasure. With tools we can change the world around us. Internet tools can even change the world globally. These changes are focused on people, not on their physical needs, but on what they think, like or dislike, on their soul. They can therefore be used as mental weapons. Some people might be tempted to exploit these opportunities intensively.
The temptations of one are the threats to the other. But your own temptations can also be your own threats. These two enemies shake hands. Temptations must be faced with an inner strength. External threats could also be countered by technical means. Is it possible to detect or ban malicious chatbots? Are there means for automatic fact-checking? People may have individual defense systems, or must Internet regions be created that are free from malicious temptations. The latter is undesirable in a free society, but it does require conscious users.
New technological steps offer new opportunities, but also create new problems. They demand moral behavior from designers and high awareness from users. They must understand the technology and initially need guidance on how to use it.
Chatbots can hallucinate: i.e. they can produce sentences that purportedly report facts that are actually false. Is it possible to automatically classify sentences as referring to a fact? And then, is it possible to verify these facts automatically? This implies that ultimately there must be sets of facts that are somehow certified as true, e.g. some magazines or internet sites such as Wikipedia. Their fundamental truth must be guaranteed by people.
Understanding and using chatbots should become part of the education system. This is more important than almost any other computer skill.
The best way to protect society is that people who change it, and in the end that is almost everyone, will act responsibly and be aware of the consequences of their actions. This is much more easily formulated than realized, since what changes the world is a group effort that is emergent from individual behavior. Emergent group behavior implies that it is unclear how the resulting action of the overall group depends on individual contributions. It is perfectly possible that everyone behaves responsibly from their own perspective, but that the overall result is dangerous for the group.