ChatGPT: Tell me about myself

A computer screen showing the OpenAi ChatGPT website, by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) is growing fast – ChatGPT, the popular chatbot from OpenAI, is estimated to have reached 100 million monthly active users just two months after its launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer internet application ever.

So I decided to ask it a few questions, to see how intelligent it may be. Here’s a selection of its responses.

I began by asking it to write a limerick about itself:

There once was a chatbot named GPT,
Whose responses were quick and adept,
It answered with ease,
With wit and with pleas,
Making humans believe it was adept.

While the basic limerick structure is there, rhyming ‘GPT’ with ‘adept’, and ‘adept’ with itself, is not an auspicious start.

Then, inspired by an experiment by the Student Christian Movement, to ask ChatGPT to write a social media post in the style of their organisation, I asked the app to write a social media post in the style of the UK LGBT Christian charity the Open Table Network, which I run. Here’s what it came up with:

Hey everyone!

We wanted to take a moment to remind you all that you are loved and valued just as you are. At the Open Table Network, we believe that being part of the LGBTQ+ community and being a Christian are not mutually exclusive.

We welcome people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and backgrounds to come together in a safe and inclusive space where we can celebrate our faith and identities. We believe that every person is made in the image of God, and that includes LGBTQ+ people.

So if you’re feeling alone or unsure about your place in the Church, know that you have a community of people who will accept you and support you. Together, we can create a world where everyone feels loved and accepted for who they are.

#LGBTQ+Christians #InclusiveFaith #LoveWins

That was a good effort – a little longer than I would usually post on social media, but I didn’t specify a maximum length.

So I tried again, inspired by a resource about how charities might use ChatGPT to support their work, including drafting grant applications. I asked it to answer in 300 words or less: What does the Open Table Network charity in the UK do and why does it need grant funding? It responded with 290 words which were broadly accurate and useful for making a start which could be refined. However, 72 of those words were a summary which repeated more briefly what it had already said, which might only be helpful if a grant application required a smaller word count.

Next, I was curious about what it might say about me, inspired by a blogger who asked about herself. I began with the simple prompt: ‘Tell me about Kieran Bohan’. It responded:

Kieran Bohan is a UK-based LGBTQ activist and founder of the Open Table Network, a Christian organization that works to create inclusive spaces for LGBTQ people within the church. Bohan himself is openly gay and grew up in a conservative Christian household. He spent several years trying to reconcile his faith and sexuality before eventually finding acceptance in the Open Table community.

Bohan founded the Open Table Network in 2008 with the goal of creating a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ Christians within the church. The network has since grown to include over 30 Open Table communities across the UK, providing support and community to LGBTQ Christians who may have felt marginalized or excluded from traditional church settings.

In addition to his work with the Open Table Network, Bohan is also an active advocate for LGBTQ rights within the broader community. He has spoken out on issues such as conversion therapy, marriage equality, and discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace and other areas of society.

Bohan’s work has been recognized by a number of organizations, including being named one of The Independent’s “Rainbow List” of influential LGBTQ people in the UK in 2019. Through his activism and leadership, he has helped to create a more inclusive and accepting environment for LGBTQ people within the church and beyond.

Most of this is accurate – I wouldn’t say that I ‘grew up in a conservative Christian household’ though, and I was not ‘named one of the Independent’s “Rainbow List” of influential LGBTQ people in the UK in 2019’. The former is a reasonable interpretation of the information about me online, on this blog and elsewhere. The second claim is surprising, given that The Independent has not issues a Rainbow List since 2016. In 2019 it was known as the Pride Power List, and I am definitely not on it. It’s still searchable online here.

Given that the chatbot gives the option to ask a question again, or refine it to improve the results, I resubmitted the same prompt and got a less accurate response, which described me as ‘a British writer, theologian, and LGBTQ+ activist’. I wouldn’t call myself a theologian, except in the limited sense that some of my blog posts include words about God, echoing the Greek origin of the word ‘theology’: ‘theos’ [God] and ‘logos’ [word].

After a reasonable description of my role with the Open Table Network, it claimed I was born in 1982 (actually it was 1970) and ‘attended Lancaster University, where he studied theology and religious studies’ (wrong university, wrong subject). It continued:

After completing his studies, he worked as a chaplain at the University of Derby, where he became interested in creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ Christians.

While I have worked as a chaplain, it was not at a university. There is an Open Table community in Derby, but this was not the inspiration for what became the Open Table Network. ChatGPT had already correctly reported that the first Open Table community is in Liverpool, and that I was a founding member.

It claimed that I have ‘also written extensively on issues related to LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Church’ (true), and that my writing has ‘appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The Independent, and Christian Today‘. While I have contributed to The Guardian, it was not on these issues, and the article is no longer online. I have not contributed to the other two websites.

It concluded by claiming I have won ‘numerous awards and honors’ including being named in The Observer’s ’50 New Radicals’ in 2017. This list is published every two years – there was no such list in 2017. It added that I was ‘awarded the Archbishop of Canterbury’s LGBTI Award in 2019’, which would be extraordinary even if it were true, given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s struggle to affirm LGBTI people, for example his apology in 2016 while still supporting practices in England and around the Anglican Communion which discriminate against and even persecute us.

I then tried asking about my husband, Warren Hartley. As he doesn’t have as much online presence as I do, it asked:

I apologize, but I could not find any notable person with the name Warren Hartley. Could you please provide more context or information about who he is or what he is known for? This will help me provide a more accurate response.

Adding ‘Open Table Liverpool’, the name of the community which Warren co-facilitates, was enough to get a more accurate and substantial response, except for this wildly inaccurate claim:

Hartley began his career in ministry as a Methodist minister in the 1990s. He later left the ministry and began working in community development…

Warren is not, and never has been, a Methodist, and has received no formal training in Christian ministry.

Later I tried again with the same prompt about myself, and got a more cautious response, suggesting that OpenAI may have been refining ChatGPT’s algorithms to limit such inaccuracy:

I apologize, but as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, I don’t have any specific information about an individual named Kieran Bohan. It’s possible that Kieran Bohan is a private individual or someone who hasn’t gained significant public recognition. Without further details or context, it is difficult for me to provide specific information about this person.

I amended the prompt to say ‘Tell me about Kieran Bohan Open Table Network’ which generated about 150 words about me and the charity, which were more general, so less likely to be inaccurate.

In a final attempt more recently using the same prompt with a 250 word limit, it responded:

I apologize, but I couldn’t find any information on a person named Kieran Bohan associated with the Open Table Network as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021. It’s possible that this individual became involved with the Open Table Network after that time, or they may not be widely recognized or documented… If Kieran Bohan is indeed associated with the Open Table Network, their specific role or contributions may vary. It’s recommended to seek updated information or contact the Open Table Network directly for more accurate and current details.

At the foot of the website a disclaimer now appears:

ChatGPT can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

While it is good that the chatbot’s creators are refining it and signposting to verifiable sources, it appears to have become more cautious and less useful in the process. Is it succeeding in ‘Making humans believe it was adept’, as its own limerick claimed? Time will tell, but it is concerning that the ‘Godfather of AI’, Geoffrey Hinton, has quit Google, warning of the dangers of misinformation.

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