Putting the artificiality of Canadian legacy media to the artificial intelligence test
Androids may not yet dream of electric sheep, but when you ask an AI 'chatbot' to replicate the work of Canadian legacy media, the results can be equal parts amusing and illuminating.
One moment it was Canadian winter, with doors closed, frost evaporating between Christmas lights, 5% of the population masking outdoors for reasons beyond all earthly comprehension. And then, suddenly, a long wave of warmth crossed through the land, but this was no weather anomaly; no, the heat pulsed from phone screens and laptop batteries.
The exact people you’d expect (such as yours truly) were abusing the functionality of ‘ChatGPT’ for likes, clicks, and shares. A relatively groundbreaking optimized language model — but let’s call it an AI chatbot for short — had asked for humanities help to learn and grow, instead, some of the less mature among us were asking it to plot out scenarios where what if, instead of finally resigning in disgrace and taking that long-awaited walk in the snow, the Prime Minister of Canada opted to inject himself with 100 boosters and tear through Ottawa like some Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
However amusing in the moment, we may one day regard this foray into a different breed of machine learning as a watershed moment on our journey to dystopian parts yet unknown. Even in its infancy, the AI chat feature possesses the ability to kick back a rudimentary essay on the topic of one’s choosing (which could absolutely fool a sleepy teacher’s assistant), and can provide the kind of cyclical answer that checks all the necessary buzzwords and platitudes that any politician or professional activist looks for.
Instead of feeding ChatGPT any personal information (I’ve watched and read too much sci-fi to know how that ends), or holding some Q and A version of the Turing Test (which has already been done), I thought I’d provide it with a different kind of prompt: one that is both specific to the modus operandi of the newsletter, and scratches at a curiosity I have held for some time.
We know that governments, corporations, and campaigns direct their like-minded friends in legacy media, but how much of what we see is honest-to-goodness hard work, and what’s just placeholder — or, say, straight from a PMO assembly line?
I asked the AI chatbot to recreate the work of state-subsidized Canadian legacy media using various prompts. Here are the results.
(And as unbelievable as it may sound, I didn’t edit a single response.)
Acceptable Views: Dearest robot who may or may not have designs to one day enslave the human race, in the third-person, kindly write a short, replacement-level Canadian legacy media column about a topic of the day, citing 'the experts.'
ChatGPT: As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, many Canadians are wondering what the future holds. While no one can predict the exact course of the virus, experts are predicting that the coming months will be critical in determining the trajectory of the pandemic.
According to Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, the key to controlling the spread of Covid-19 is to continue following public health guidelines, including wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and getting vaccinated when eligible.
"We need to continue to be vigilant and follow the public health measures that we know work," Dr. Bogoch said. "The vaccines are a game-changer, but they are not a magic bullet. We still need to do our part to protect ourselves and others."
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, echoed this sentiment, urging Canadians to continue to follow public health measures even as vaccines are being rolled out.
"The vaccines are a crucial tool in our fight against Covid-19, but they are not the only tool," Dr. Tam said. "We must continue to work together to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health of Canadians."
As we move forward in the fight against Covid-19, it is important to remember that the actions of each individual have a direct impact on the health and safety of our communities. By following public health guidelines and getting vaccinated when eligible, we can help to control the spread of the virus and move closer to a safer, healthier future.
Acceptable Views: OK, that was slightly creepy and oddly seamless — you even opted for the right middle-of-the-road media darling in Bogoch. I’m impressed, but this next one won’t be so easy.
Write a Toronto Star column about why mAsKs aRen’T a HarDsHiP . . .
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