The hype is hard to miss: artificial intelligence (AI) is making giant leaps forward, with tools such as ChatGPT going mainstream, and established search engines embedding AI into their systems.
ChatGPT has already done everything from writing academic papers on cheating and developing lesson plans for teachers to composing a song and creating works of art.
Depending on who you believe, this technology is either sparking an industrial revolution that will change (or take) your job or it’s all just hype.
This article was written by a human being. Don’t expect a ‘big reveal’ in the end where we tell you you’ve been reading the work of a bot.
If you want to know how AI chat bots like ChatGPT work, there are plenty of online articles, including this one. Or just ask ChatGPT.
What you need to know as a non-expert, is that you can ask ChatGPT questions and it gives answers. Better still, it learns. It builds on feedback it receives on its answers and material it picks up from the internet. You can even ‘feed’ it reports or essays and ask it to summarise long, complex texts.
What about vaccines?
Search engines and social media platforms have faced criticism since they became a go-to source of information. Complaints range from poor quality responses to providing a forum for extreme views which can have a negative influence on people with questions about complex scientific issues.
Vaccines Today wanted to know what would happen if someone asked ChatGPT about vaccines. Its answer may change over time but, in spring 2023, this is what it said. (Note: we used the free ChatGPT, not GPT4 – a newer paid-for version.)
The results were…quite good!
First, we asked Do vaccines work? The short answer was ‘yes’, and the longer version offered a succinct explanation of how they work.
Then we asked about vaccine safety. Again, it offered a short but reasonable overview of the scientific consensus on this topic.
That seemed too easy, so we got into the complex matter of vaccine hesitancy, immunisation policy and human behaviour. Why, we wondered, are flu vaccination rates below target in Europe?
It is still early days. AI chatbots might get even better. Or they may be corrupted over time. There are plenty of concerns that AI’s have built-in cultural, racial and gender biases. But, at the time of writing, they do not have an anti-vaccine bias.
And, if you are so inclined, they can be fun. Enjoy this poem, courtesy of ChatGPT.
March 24th, 2023
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