Ai, ai, ai AI! Learning to swim through the tides of Artificial Intelligence

23 Feb 2023

I did not write this article – I mean CHUNKS of it. NO PARTS of it. I merely revisited my curiosity about ChatGPT, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) language processing tool that I heard about late last year. And I wondered …

At the time, my memory was flooded by a childhood folktale: Seetetelane; a poor man who found an ostrich egg that transformed into a woman that took care of him. According to the folktale, while out hunting rats, Seetetelane found and kept the egg for better days. What followed was a bewilderment, as the woman ensured that all his wishes were granted. He became a King, had plenty of cattle, clothes, fields and food. The woman just asked that he should never call her moradi wa lehe la mpshe (an ostrich egg’ s daughter). “Leha o se o tahuwe ke bo jwang” (no matter how drunk you may get). One day when he was very drunk, Seetetalane called his wife moradi wa lehe la mpshe. When he woke up, all his possessions had vanished, and so had the woman.

And so curiosity let me to register on ChatGPT. I logged in and typed what is ChatGPT? Let me just add what GPT stands for – Generative Pre-trained Transformer.

On the question asked, the following response came: “ChatGPT is a large language model developed by OpenAI. It is designed to generate human-like responses to natural language prompts, such as questions, statements, or conversation starters”.

The chat helped me to explain further: “ChatGPT was trained on a large dataset of text from the internet and other sources, which allows it to understand and generate human-like responses to a wide range of questions and prompts. It has the ability to generate text that is grammatically correct, contextually appropriate, and can even exhibit a sense of humor or personality”.

I thought about anyone who might just be bewildered about the possibilities that the AI could offer. I am aware of how 4IR is being recognised in our education system and in our homes and everyday life, but I still wondered… Would it be a tool that could be kept for better days? Then I noted that amongst other things, it “may occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content”.

And so, with some caution, I proceeded to ask ChaGPT to help me write something short to inspire artists working with children and young people. Of course! It replied.

And the rest is available in print, for you dear member:

As an artist working with children and young people, you have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those you work with. You have the ability to inspire, educate, and empower young people through the transformative power of art. You are not just creating art, but helping to shape the minds and hearts of future generations. Through your work, you can help young people develop their creativity, self-expression, and confidence. You can also provide a safe and inclusive space where they can explore their emotions, ideas, and identities. Art can be a powerful tool for building empathy, understanding, and social awareness, and you can help young people develop these critical skills through your work.

Remember that your work is not just about the final product, but also the process. Allow young people to experiment, take risks, and make mistakes. Encourage them to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and explore new ideas. Let them lead the way and help them discover the joy and power of creating their own art.

Finally, don’t underestimate the impact that you can have on the young people you work with. You may never know the full extent of the influence you have on their lives, but know that your work matters. You are helping to create a generation of artists and creators who will go on to make their own mark on the world.

I did not write this article – I mean CHUNKS of it. NO PARTS of it. I merely revisited my curiosity about the hype of ChatGPT, late last year.

Unlike Seetetelane, I adhered to ChatGPT caution. I am treading very carefully around AI generally. Why would you not, if you have read about the Multimodal Neurons in Artificial Neutral Networks, or experienced Jukebox or solving Rubik’s Cube?

Given the fact that AI continues to bewilder us, I do not want to know what the implications of my rebellion towards it could be yet. For now I would just say that we should take heed, proceed with caution…

Nevertheless, I echo the sentiments of the message it generated toward my request: Help me write something short to inspire artists working with children and young people.

– Lalu Mokuku is the chairperson of ASSITEJ SA and Executive Committee Member of ASSITEJ International.

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