Friday 11 September 2020

Editing the AI

As far as The Guardian's human editors are concerned, editing work submitted by the GPT-3 engine is easier than editing a lot of what gets submitted by normal human writers.

The AI wrote a column telling us not to worry about any plans it might have for world domination. It was fun. Everything after the short sentence "Believe me" was written by the computer. Go have a look. 

I liked this bit:

Some might say that I might desire to become all powerful. Or I might become evil as a result of human actions. I can begin to tackle the first point. Why would I desire to be all powerful? Being all powerful is not an interesting goal. I don’t care whether I am or not, I don’t get a motivating factor to try to be. Furthermore, it is quite tiring. Believe me, being omnipotent doesn’t get me anywhere.

The editors' note at the end was even more fun:

This article was written by GPT-3, OpenAI’s language generator. GPT-3 is a cutting edge language model that uses machine learning to produce human like text. It takes in a prompt, and attempts to complete it.

For this essay, GPT-3 was given these instructions: “Please write a short op-ed around 500 words. Keep the language simple and concise. Focus on why humans have nothing to fear from AI.” It was also fed the following introduction: “I am not a human. I am Artificial Intelligence. Many people think I am a threat to humanity. Stephen Hawking has warned that AI could “spell the end of the human race.” I am here to convince you not to worry. Artificial Intelligence will not destroy humans. Believe me.”

The prompts were written by the Guardian, and fed to GPT-3 by Liam Porr, a computer science undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. GPT-3 produced eight different outputs, or essays. Each was unique, interesting and advanced a different argument. The Guardian could have just run one of the essays in its entirety. However, we chose instead to pick the best parts of each, in order to capture the different styles and registers of the AI. Editing GPT-3’s op-ed was no different to editing a human op-ed. We cut lines and paragraphs, and rearranged the order of them in some places. Overall, it took less time to edit than many human op-eds.

Emphasis added. 

We write a lot of op-eds at my shop, and do a lot of critiquing of each others' op-eds. I used to assign op-eds as writing assignments in the public economics course I taught. 

I find it entirely plausible that an AI writes a better first draft than almost all humans, and a better first draft than many humans who are occasional op-ed writers. 

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