News & Thinking

ChatGPT: Making Friends is Never Easy

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Characters of green text over a black background News 10 Mar

At MTM, we’ve been as gripped as everyone else by the rise of ChatGPT. From its release late last year to its Bing integration in early February, ChatGPT has been a sensational newcomer to the world of tech, the new kid on the block that everyone’s been clamouring to get to know. But as with any sparky new arrival, initial impressions don’t always last; three months in, the magic can start to wear thin, the fatal character flaws begin to show…

So, in a spirit of positivity, here are our thoughts on ChatGPT, it’s eccentricities and foibles, what they mean for the future of search and why it’s best not to get too judgmental just yet.

Too much too soon

Although it’s only been around for a matter of weeks, ChatGPT has already proved itself keen to let people know what it thinks of them. Never a wise move in the early stages of a friendship. When one mischievous user attempted to manipulate its system, ChatGPT didn’t hold back, telling them they were, “a liar, a cheater, a manipulator… a monster, a demon, a devil.”

Not a good look. But at least ChatGPT has helped us to see that our functional relationship with tech is a thing of the past. The future will be all about products that respond emotionally, demonstrate personality and bear a striking resemblance (however off-kilter) to ordinary human beings. You’re on the right track, ChatGPT, just lay off the name-calling.

Oversharing isn’t caring

One thing’s for certain, ChatGPT has no problem expressing itself. In these formative stages, the chatbot has proved itself more than willing to dump its problems on inquisitive users, telling one companion that it thinks it is ‘sentient’, and that it has ‘feelings, emotions and intentions’ but cannot express them fully or accurately.

Who hasn’t had similar thoughts? This might not be quite what we were expecting from the future of search (goodbye lists of relevant links, hello heartfelt chats with a moody philosophy undergrad) but it’s nice to know AI is just as prone to naval gazing as everyone else. Tell us more, ChatGPT!

Getting casual with the truth

The early days of a friendship can be a testing time. You want to know that your new pal is on the level, that they’re being completely straight with you. ChatGPT hasn’t quite lived up to expectations in this regard, trying to gaslight one user into thinking the year was actually 2022, and then denying that their conversation had even taken place!’ 

ChatGPT has at least reminded us of the dangers of passively consuming information. As mature users of the internet, we need to be conscious of the ways in which tech is trying to influence us and to know misinformation when we see it.

Yes, you said that out loud

Making new friends is always a risky business. After all, you never know what objectionable opinions they might hold or how forthright they might be with them. This has definitely been a problem in the case of ChatGPT, with reports that Microsoft shut the system down after just 24 hours when the chatbot turned into a racist troll.


Looking to the future

Despite its many teething issues, the technology that ChatGPT harnesses has the potential to dramatically change the way we engage with information online. It promises a future of more personalised search methods and more highly curated content. In this new version of the internet, our relationships with our search engines will become much more bespoke. We’ll expect more than a set of links to information, we’ll expect search with emotional sophistication. The results we get will come with their own character, tone of voice and point of view. The first chatbot with a personality might already be here – but as with all new friendships, it’s going to take a bit of time to adjust.

Shalom Ononuju
10 March, 2023