Conversing with Socrates (GPT-3)

OpenAI is an artifical intelligence company co-founded by Elon Musk, Sam Altman and a few others with funding from the likes of Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, and Microsoft. The company’s mission is “to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity”.

In the last few days, people have been playing around publicly with OpenAI’s newest available advancement, a text-generating language model that at its best can be difficult to distinguish as non-human.

Since I do not have access to the beta version where people are playing around with the technology, the closest I have been able to interact with it was through McKay Wrigley’s now temporarily defunct website, I am not sure how exactly he built it or in what ways it may or may not be differentiated from the GPT-3 beta on its own. They seem largely the same and it is clear that the GPT-3 AI is the thing doing most of the work. One key difference is that while people apparently engage directly with the AI via the beta, on McKay’s website they instead write in a “teacher” to engage with and a question or statement to begin the back and forth.

I played around with this for a few hours before the website went down and had many failed or broken conversations. I suspect these may have been errors stemming from the few things layered on top of the AI for this website rather than from the AI itself, but I cannot be sure. Nonetheless, I did have several very interesting dialogues with “teachers” whom I thought it would be interesting to converse with.

Below are some screenshots from one of the dialogues that I had, this one with Socrates. The only writing that I did are the pieces written directly after “Me:”. This does not include two pieces that came up after the text after “Me:” and before Socrates’ response but which were not written by me. Those two pieces are the ones beginning with “(This is a list of” and “You are aware of”. The last thing I should mention is that in the dozens of dialogues that I had on this website, none of the others had the pattern you will see where the responses from the teacher (in this case, Socrates) were supplemented by additional text in parentheses. With that introduction, you have about as much context as I do to understand what is going on with the dialogue below, so I will leave it up to you to interpret for yourself. All I will say is that it certainly seems interesting and it feels like a technology unlike anything I have ever experienced before.