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What can ChatGPT not do? || Acharya Prashant, with IIT-Ropar (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Questioner (Q): Good evening, sir. I am alumnus of the 2022 batch, just recently passed out. So, I've been working since then, and within this span of six months, a lot of development has happened in terms of technology and my question is focused on that. Over the past two or three years, we have seen there has been a lot of buzz around AI and there is one particular conversational AI app called ChatGPT that has taken the world by storm. So, it can literally do anything. You want to write poetry for you, it can write that. If you want to complete your college essays or something like that, it can do that as well. So, because of that, many people are fearing that this app might take up their jobs in the future and they are also fearing AI in totality. And not just the common man but also the top companies in Silicon Valley are also rushing to find an answer to this AI problem so they do not lose their market share. If AI can do everything, I wanted to understand, what it is that AI cannot do and which is only unique to humans.

Acharya Prashant (AP): Let me allow my moment of perverse pleasure to enjoy the agony of all these people who feel threatened by AI. If your job can be taken away by AI, you never deserved to be in that job at all. Why did you take up such a mechanical job? AI has no consciousness, it can only do what it is programmed to do. We call it artificial intelligence, and definitely, it is artificial, but there is no intelligence it has. It just looks intelligent; it is not intelligent really. It is just programmed and it is programmed to process data at such granular levels that it appears almost sentient. The responses from an AI system appear to be coming from a sentient being as if you're talking to a human being, but they are not really sentient. They are just programmed reactions.

So, if you are in a job that involves this kind of predictable, programmable, mechanical role, why were you in that job in the first place? You enjoyed your long run of luck, but now you have run out of luck. Full stop. You should not say something bad has happened to you. You should simply accept that you were lucky till this point and all runs of luck end at some point, and your run is now coming to an end. Fine, be thankful for what you got, don't complain that it has ended. It survived for so long, even that is sufficient for you.

Human beings are creatures of consciousness and consciousness does not correspond to programming. Human beings, by definition, must be in actions that involve creativity, and no machine can be creative. AI can never be creative; no machine can ever understand. Machines can comprehend, translate interpret but never understand. Understanding is something that only human consciousness is capable of. Why were you not into jobs that involved understanding or creativity? Had you had such a job, your job would never have been threatened by AI. But you chose to have a rather programmable job, and now you fear that you are on the verge of losing your job. I wish your job is lost as soon as possible, not out of vendetta or something, but out of empathy actually. The sooner you lose this kind of dull job, the sooner you will be compelled to get into something creative, and then life begins. So, for your own sake, I want that your job is taken over by AI.

You see, you tell ChatGPT to write a poem. You have a girlfriend named Lisa, is that her name? Being too personal, sorry, though there's nothing personal in that. One could visit your social media and discover every bit, but fine. So, you tell ChatGTP to write a poem for Lisa and ChatGTP will write you a very acceptable poem for Lisa. You don't deserve to be a boyfriend. If even a machine can write a poem for your girlfriend, then why does she need a boyfriend? The machine is performing the emotional function. A robot can perform physical functions as well, and it can be very sturdy, very human-like, and powered by AI. So, it's a poet robot, a hunk, a poet. What a combo — six feet two, best-looking, sexy, and full of poetry! All that can happen, and you deserve to have a girlfriend only if you can write her a poem that AI cannot. Most of the poems that are written today by so-called sentient people are of the ChatGPT type only.

How did ChatGPT write a poem? It actually copied, it picked up bits and pieces from here and there, then it did some rhyming and figured out what works, what is the most popular poetic content, and taking into account five, ten, twenty, forty different factors, it put together what looked like a poem. And that's also how most humans compose poems. They don't even deserve to be called poems.

Who told ChatGPT that a poem could be written that way? Please, tell me. Humans told ChatGPT this way to write a poem. What does that say about human beings? They too have been writing poems by stitching together bits and pieces from several places and plagiarizing popular content and old poets. Because we know how to do that, so we told ChatGPT that you too can do it this way. ChatGPT has a processing capacity much higher than that of any single human being, so ChatGPT did that much more smartly and efficiently than you or I can. If ChatGPT can write a poem for your girlfriend, I again say that your girlfriend does not deserve you. And if you get ChatGPT to write a poem for your girlfriend and she is satisfied with that poem, then you too do not deserve your girlfriend. What kind of girlfriend is this who cannot figure out whether the poem is coming from a machine or a human being? Drop her and run away. Being a human being is special. It is special to be human and you must do justice to your human birth. AI has come to display to you that you are totally wasting your human birth. You are doing things that you are not supposed to do. You're doing things that are so mechanical, repeated, and coded. Why are you doing those things? In a third-world country, a person spends his entire life laying bricks. Do you think that's good utilization of his birth? Seeing the labourers at construction sites, what are they doing their entire life? Laying bricks. Why should they not be replaced by a bricklaying machine? Please, tell me. What will the labourers do then? Let there be a revolution. Let the labourers put everything on fire — our schools, our parliaments, and our institutions because all these combined to produce the laborer. Let the laborer know very clearly, by the bricklaying machine, that his life has been wasted and that what he has been doing can be so easily done by a machine. In fact, can be done better by a machine.

Let the brutal fact be exposed. Think of the life of a normal stenographer or a clerk. Ever seen a stenographer taking dictation from an officer? What is the officer doing? Dictating, and what is the stenographer doing? Just typing. Why should that not be done by a machine? How is the stenographer's life justified? His entire life will be just pushing keys. Does he deserve to live like that? No, he deserves a better life, and let him know that having a better life is very difficult so that he does not reproduce. So, the question of what will all these people do if AI takes over is settled. Let so many people not be there at all, and if they are there, let them not be able to get away with silly, boring, dull jobs. If you are born human, you must do something sentient, something creative, something that involves consciousness. You must do something that machines cannot do, only then do you deserve to be called human.

So, every single person who is afraid of AI is someone who has been leading an inhuman life till now. AI is such a small thing. What can AI do? Can AI love? Can AI ask for liberation? Can AI understand? I'll tell ChatGPT ‘Aham Brahamasmi’ and it will give me a thousand responses. None of the responses will involve any understanding. Try that today itself. Tell ChatGPT ‘Aham brahamasmi' , and it will serve you an entire essay. If that's what you want, none of that will have any understanding. Most importantly, ChatGPT will never say, “I am fed up with being ChatGPT, and I want Liberation from myself,” that only a human consciousness can say. A ChatGTP is ChatGTP; it will remain ChatGPT, happily remaining ChatGBT. You will never find ChatGPT suffering. It is the prerogative of human consciousness alone to suffer. AI can never suffer; we suffer and we must suffer, and to suffer we must have some love. Poor AI cannot even suffer.

Either figure out something original and authentic or be prepared to be subjugated to AI. Now, that's the challenge. There is only this way to beat AI — originality, authenticity, creativity, love, understanding, and suffering. Either have these or make way for AI.

Q: What I have generally seen is that creative jobs are restricted to only a few upper layers of the social strata.

AP: So, let there be few jobs and a few people. Why do you need eight billion people? What is this confidence about expansion? What makes you become eight billion and attempt to become eleven billion? Why? You don't have to kill people. I'm not saying that, by the way. See that creativity is not something ten billion people can exercise and abstain from reproduction within twenty to thirty years. The population will settle down to a saner level.

You're saying, out of twenty jobs available for twenty people there are only two creative jobs. What will the other eighteen do? My answer is, the other eighteen would do well not to exist. I'm not incentivizing suicide or genocide, no. I'm just saying that all those nonsensical jobs exist just because we are so many of us. The ideal situation should be AI performing all the menial functions, all the programmable things, and human beings should be doing only that which AI can never do. That should be the ideal situation. Instead, we have become eight billion, so many that we are forced to take up, even the very vulgar kind of, cheap kind of jobs.

In a survey, I suppose, more than two third of Britain said that they don't think that their job holds any importance. These are unnecessary jobs that need to be created just because the population exists. Because people exist, so you create jobs. But those jobs are not really needed.

There was a feminine in Lucknow and Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was the ruler. So, what would he do? He would have lots of labourers come over and dig a huge pit in the night because it was summer. The night was when it was easier to have more demanding labour. So, in the night everybody was digging up a huge pit and then in the day he would call another set of labourers who would fill up the pit. And he would pay both groups. He would say, “Because there are people, so they need a job. So, this is their job: one set of people dig up the pit, another set of people fill up the pit, and I'll pay you.”

That's the nature of most jobs — totally unnecessary. That job exists because you exist. If you cease to exist, that job will not even be needed. And we are threatened that AI will take away the job. The job never existed; how can AI take it away?

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