ll you hear on the news these days is talk about A.I. – artificial intelligence.
What has got everyone excited is Open AI’s release of a chatbot – computer software that interacts with humans via texting – that utilizes artificial intelligence in a manner previously unseen.
ChatGPT is a tool that utilizes something called generative pre-trained transformer (the GPT portion in its name) family of language models. This allows it to interact with people as though it too were a person, providing human-like responses purely through machine learning.
The current version of ChatGPT is trained on not only articles and information found on the internet, but also on books, research papers, and other texts.
While ChatGPT can provide human-like answers, those answers may not always be correct. And it has guardrails coded into it, preventing it from addressing topics deemed too controversial or challenging for artificial intelligence at this time.
Implications for psychology
ChatGPT has wide-ranging applications, from handling customer service queries to helping students better understand a research topic in plain language. It also has potential psychological uses, such as augmenting traditional psychotherapy sessions as a self-help support tool, or in some instances, replace psychotherapy altogether.
Since there have been few serious attempts to address the shortages of clinical professionals in psychiatry (and increasingly, in psychology too), AI may offer one type of solution. While it may seem radical now, a tool like ChatGPT can offer a form of psychological treatment that could be helpful to those suffering from mental health issues, but are unable to access timely care.
In its current form, however, ChatGPT offers a repetitive, mansplaining, mind-numbing dialogue that is a poor replacement for a human therapist. There is little attempt on its part to interact in a way that a traditional therapist does. However, the way ChatGPT is trained largely determines its responses. Imagine a version of this software that is trained on hundreds of thousands of hours of actual psychotherapy sessions…Then we’d likely see a far more interesting and useful service.
Time will tell. But it’s good to be aware of this advancement in technology. Because while it won’t be coming for our jobs anytime soon, you may hear more and more people talk excitedly about its future potential.