Playing Games with Ais: The Limits of GPT-3 and Similar Large Language Models - Minds and Machines.
This article contributes to the debate around the abilities of large language models such as GPT-3, dealing with: firstly, evaluating how well GPT does in the Turing Test, secondly the limits of such models, especially their tendency to generate falsehoods, and thirdly the social consequences of the problems these models have with truth-telling. We start by formalising the recently proposed notion of reversible questions, which Floridi & Chiriatti (2020) propose allow one to ‘identify the nature of the source of their answers’, as a probabilistic measure based on Item Response Theory from psychometrics. Following a critical assessment of the methodology which led previous scholars to dismiss GPT’s abilities, we argue against claims that GPT-3 completely lacks semantic ability. Using ideas of compression, priming, distributional semantics and semantic webs we offer our own theory of the limits of large language models like GPT-3, and argue that GPT can competently engage in various semantic tasks. The real reason GPT’s answers seem senseless being that truth-telling is not amongst them. We claim that these kinds of models cannot be forced into producing only true continuation, but rather to maximise their objective function they strategize to be plausible instead of truthful. This, we moreover claim, can hijack our intuitive capacity to evaluate the accuracy of its outputs. Finally, we show how this analysis predicts that a widespread adoption of language generators as tools for writing could result in permanent pollution of our informational ecosystem with massive amounts of very plausible but often untrue texts.
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