Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then it’s highly likely you’ve seen headlines about artificial intelligence, specifically ChatGPT, dominating the headlines recently.
But what is AI and does it have the answer to everything? I decided to put it to the test recently, to see exactly what it can do and whether it might hold the answer to solving the Irish Housing Crisis (as well as having a little fun with it too!).
ChatGPT – what’s that?
There are moments in your life when you know you’re witnessing something historic that you’ll never forget: the assassination of John F Kennedy, Princess Diana’s death, or September 11th are all prime examples – most people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about each event.
But there are other moments in history that you could say are even more pivotal to the world: revolutions in technology which have the power to change life as we know it, but they’re just not as indelibly marked on our consciousness.
I remember my dad bringing home a Commodore 64: it was a home computer for playing games and I became absolutely obsessed, spending my entire summer watching this little screen playing with the joystick. It was new and it was addictive.
Then, he got a phone installed in his car, and a few years later a mobile phone – a huge big thing that was the size of a brick. Fast forward to today and obviously the entire world works on smartphones but back at the time these massive technological leaps.
When I started college, I was given an email address for the very first time and I remember wondering what on earth it was for, because at the time nobody else I knew had one! Back then it was such a novelty that when you received an email you read every word of it like it was a letter; fast forward to today and I’m so inundated with email that it just drives me mad!
The latest product in the evolution of technology is ChatGPT, which, put very simply, is groundbreaking artificial intelligence. For anyone who hasn’t used it yet that might seem like a big exaggeration – you might think it’s just a chatbot, but I’ve been giving it questions and the speed and originality of its responses is absolutely mind-blowing.
I can see this as a tool that will start filtering into our everyday life, and could potentially put some of the tech giants out of business: the results it throws out are so personalized and unique that I think there is a good chance that people will start going to ChatGPT instead of going to Google.
Isn’t AI just one big evil robot?
What most people know about AI comes more or less from the movies.
The phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ was actually turned into an academic discipline back in 1956, but didn’t really hit the public consciousness until 1968 when Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick got together to create the movie “2001 A Space Odyssey”. If you don’t know it, a large part of the story involves HAL, the artificial intelligence running a spaceship on its way to Jupiter, which decides to override the instructions of the crew, with somewhat deadly results.
And of course, we all remember Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, which I think is where AI really got its bad reputation: a terrifying, dystopian threat to humans. What I’ve found from trying it out recently though is that actually, it can be incredibly helpful.
So, is ChatGPT a force for good and could it solve the Irish housing crisis?
ChatGPT is essentially a chatbot, but not in the sense that we’re used to when we’re dealing with call centres or similar – this is on a completely different level. You can ask it questions the way you would ask a friend and the responses you get come in whichever way you instructed it, whether that’s to do with the format or the tone you’ve asked for.
I asked ChatGPT to write me an Irish government policy document on the housing crisis and how to resolve it: you can see on episode 141 of the podcast the response I got and the speed at which I got it – suffice to say here I got a cohesive, comprehensive response.
Then I asked it to write me a YouTube script outlining the Irish housing crisis and offer up some solutions and it immediately gave me a usable script complete with shots and voiceover lines! Finally, I asked for a political speech that an open opposition party politician might use to criticize the Irish government for its failure to solve the current housing crisis and again, you can see the response I got in the podcast episode/video.
So when we ask whether ChatGPT could help solve the housing crisis, it’s important to remember that ChatGPT is a language model and does not have the ability to solve real world problems such as the housing crisis, however it can be a useful assistant when it comes to providing information, generating reports, summarizing data and providing suggestions based on the input provided. Additionally, it could be used to generate natural language text for communication materials such as brochures, press releases and other outreach materials used to inform and educate the public.
The answers to my questions were generated in seconds, when normally you’d have to sit down and spend hours writing all these – a phenomenal development (albeit one that might worry creative types!). This technology is growing so fast and I think that within a couple of years it will be everywhere.
So where are we going with this? I think this is going to be one of those technological revolutionary moments that we’ll all remember and that in a couple of years, everything you do on your computer will be done using this kind of AI. I’m certainly I’m looking forward to it managing my emails!