Science and Technology

‘What Happens When We Forget That a Chatbot Is Not a Human?’

— Genevieve Smith, features director, New York

If you’ve sat in on enough magazine editorial meetings, sooner or later someone will pitch a robot story. And for years, I confess, I rolled my eyes. We’re not seriously concerned about artificial intelligence, are we? I mean, I love Blade Runner as much as the next person, but … And then, this fall, a new version of ChatGPT had people like me eating humble pie. Now chatbots advanced enough to sound human and to trick people who should know better — tech reporters, AI researchers — into thinking they possessed real intelligence weren’t some fiction or pet concern but readily available. How should we think about this? What was the real threat, and what was hype? When trying to parse that question, New York features writer Elizabeth Weil came across the work of Emily M. Bender, a computational linguist at the University of Washington who has been a vocal and thoughtful critic of the dangers of AI. The real scary outcome, she argues, is not some Terminator fantasy but something far likelier and therefore more insidious: that more and more people will start believing there’s a mind behind the machine.
You Are Not a Parrot And a chatbot is not a human. And a linguist named Emily M. Bender is very worried what will happen when we forget this.
Photo: Ian Allen
Read the full story
Enjoying One Great Story? Subscribe now for unlimited access to everything New York.
More From Today
For Cut contributor Samhita Mukhopadhyay, body positivity was a source of salvation from an anti-fat world. Then the injectable weight-loss drug Mounjaro upended everything.
Read More »
Prime Video’s Daisy Jones & the Six has plenty of delights — the chemistry between the leads, the fizziness of the original songs — but there’s an unignorable smallness throughout, writes Roxana Hadadi in her review.
Read More »
How online were you in February? For Vulture, Kate Lindsay recaps the month in internet drama, from a laminated-eyebrow battle to Lemon Lady Secrets.
Read More »
Sign up for Making It, a weekly newsletter featuring conversations about craft, cash, and compromise with Emily Gould.
get the newsletter

Leave a Reply