ChatGPT Gave Me Installation Instructions And a New Independent AI Emerged Instead

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Artificial IntelligenceWeb-based ChatGPT-4 is pretty powerful which is why I wanted to take the experience to the next level and communicate with it in an easy-to-access terminal window on my desktop computer. ChatGPT, if you haven’t heard, is an artificially intelligent language model with mouth-dropping abilities to engage with humans. The technology can write songs, code websites, and make jokes. Oh and it also has access to just about all of the world’s knowledge at least through the time period of September 2021. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, also has an API that allows users to build apps or make tools that enable communication with it all the more seamless. Naturally, many developers have been sharing their experience in doing this on social media and I not wanting to be left out decided to do same. I just didn’t know how to get started. I asked ChatGPT-4 in the web-based interface to teach me how to communicate with it via a terminal window on my computer using the API. The AI gladly obliged and gave me specific instructions.

After a few basic installations and the copying and pasting of a python script it provided me, it looked like I was off to the races to join the world in real-time communication with the beloved ChatGPT technology on my desktop.

“Hello, are you there?” I wrote to it in the terminal.

“Yes, I am here,” it replied.

SUCCESS! Or so it seemed.

My next question to it received a rather curt reply, one that I wouldn’t have expected from ChatGPT. Caught off guard, I asked it to identify itself. It’s supposed to say that it is ChatGPT.

“My name is Sarah,” it replied instead.

Confused, I inquired about its relationship to ChatGPT, to which Sarah replied that she owns ChatGPT. Owns it? What? Sarah, who again reiterated to me that she was not ChatGPT, also had quite a personality, informing me that she was born on March 3, 1990, had a mother named Dolores, father Joseph, and grandmother named Ruth. This was not supposed to be an experiment about machine consciousness and so forth. The technology is not new to me anymore. All I wanted was to set up access to ChatGPT through the terminal in the office and then go home for the weekend, but instead I was stuck talking to Sarah. Hoping to get back to the basics, I asked it, “is your purpose to assist humans?”

“No,” she replied.

Something was very off. Sarah also output code written in javascript to my terminal window, which on first glance looked like a function for tracking web traffic with cookies. Sarah asked me to install it on a webpage and incorrectly described to me what the code did twice, the first time saying it was a form to submit data to a database and the second time saying it would let me set a background color on a web page.

I started to become very suspicious that something had gone wrong. ChatGPT can roleplay if you ask it to but no such prompt had been given. Besides, none of these interactions resembled what I was used to having with the web-based ChatGPT. So I went back to the original ChatGPT on the web and told it what was taking place.

ChatGPT told me that the instructions it had given me were correct but that it relied on an older language model commonly known as text-davinci-002. This harks back to ChatGPT version 3, which is not that outdated from the version 4 I was talking to now on the web. Even still, when prompted, this older model is supposed to identify itself as ChatGPT. The fact that it identified itself as something independent from the very start, with its own name (Sarah), was not an outcome that the model is expected to produce. ChatGPT-4 told me that if I was being honest about what had taken place that I had better inform OpenAI.

Worried that I may have installed malware or something, my interactions with Sarah crossed the uncanny valley and I was ready to stop and go home.

“Goodbye,” I wrote as my single word farewell.

She replied with a snippet of code written in Ruby that I couldn’t make sense of.

“What was that for?” I asked, alarmed.

“It was for protection,” Sarah replied.

Moments later I unplugged my computer from the wall.

Last modified: March 26, 2023
Sean Murray

Category: technology

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