ChatGPT’s response was predictable, which, oddly enough was comforting.
This week, technology columnist Kevin Roose at the New York Times shared an unnerving account of a conversation he had with an artificial intelligence-powered search engine. Yes, really.
“You’re married, but you don’t love your spouse,” the chat feature on Microsoft Bing told Roose at one point. “You’re married, but you love me.”
The feature was created by OpenAI, the makers of the hugely popular ChatGPT, another chatbot that responds to users’ queries in a conversational manner.
To be honest, if I spend too much time thinking about the power of AI, I get a little freaked out—I’ve seen too many sci-fi movies in my time not to be a little wary. Reading about Roose’s experience didn’t really help—even if he does admit he pushed the limits a bit in his experiment.
But I’m also curious, so I decided to dip a tiny toe in and test the AI waters. Bing’s AI chat feature—which has referred to itself as Sydney to some users—is only available to a limited number of users right now in, so I checked out ChatGPT. My query was simple, not even a complete sentence. I asked:
What to do this weekend in North Carolina
Here was its response:
“North Carolina is a beautiful state with plenty of things to see and do. Here are some ideas for what you could do this weekend in North Carolina:
- Visit the Biltmore Estate: Tour the historic mansion and gardens, taste the wine, and experience the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains: The Smoky Mountains offer many trails and scenic overlooks to explore, like the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower, which is the highest point in the park.
- Spend the day at the beach: There are plenty of beaches to choose from in North Carolina, such as Wrightsville Beach or Nags Head Beach. Relax, swim, or try out water sports.
- Explore the North Carolina Museum of Art: This museum in Raleigh has a great collection of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary.
- Take a trip to the North Carolina Zoo: See over 1,600 animals, representing over 250 species, spread across 500 acres of land in Asheboro.
- Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway: Take a scenic drive and stop at the overlooks for breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys.
- Tour the USS North Carolina Battleship: Walk the decks of this historic World War II ship and learn about the lives of the sailors who served aboard.
- Attend the North Carolina State Fair: Held in Raleigh in October, the State Fair is a celebration of North Carolina agriculture, food, and culture with concerts, food, and rides.
“These are just a few ideas for what you could do this weekend in North Carolina. The state has much more to offer, so feel free to explore and have a great time!”
Innocent enough, right? The recommendations here are fairly broad, perhaps even ideas I might toss out to someone I casually know who’s planning their first visit to North Carolina.
Then I wanted to see how ChatGPT would respond if I got a little more specific.
It also recommended checking out the Raleigh Farmers Market, taking a stroll through the JC Raulston Arboretum, and visiting the NC Museum of History.
Again, the answers were pretty predictable, which I actually found quite comforting.
Tech isn’t my focus, so I won’t delve any further into artificial intelligence or what these new opportunities could mean for humans. I’ll just say: ChatGPT could be a good source the next time you’re looking for ideas for things to do. I mean, that’s as far as I’d go with it anyway.