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Our ChatGPT Poem is Funny - and Illuminating

By now the ChatGPT tool probably needs no introduction- especially since Microsoft’s recently announced “multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment” in parent company OpenAI.
Most of the media attention to date has focused on lighthearted use of ChatGPT’s free public version. In a fascinating recent CU Town Hall, however, John Best conducted an informal demo connecting the dots on how this AI technology could be leveraged by credit unions- or by competitors looking to outflank CUs.
Inspired by John’s demo, our friend Derek Howard of William Mills Agency asked ChatGPT to compose a poem about “Crypto Winter,” a bear market-like period of depressed prices for bitcoin and other digital coins. The results are impressive- I’m not certain I could do better, if I were going for a cheeky, one-sided synopsis:      
Crypto winter, a season of cold
A time of loss, a time to behold
The market shivers, the price grows old
A chill in the air, a story yet untold
The investors huddle, their hopes grow thin
As the value of their coins begin to dim
But through the frost, a glimmer of hope
A belief that the spring will eventually come, and the market will cope
So hold on tight, dear crypto believers
For the winter may be long, but the spring will be sweeter
The future is bright, the market will rise
And our coins will thrive, and once again, surprise
So don't let the crypto winter get you down
Hold on to your coins, don't let them drown
For the spring will come, and the market will bloom
And our crypto journey will resume.

Fun, right? Let’s scratch beneath the surface, though, for some important lessons about what these stanzas do and don’t say.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the poem’s surprisingly upbeat tone. After all, our current down cycle has extended for over a year- much longer than a typical season- and bitcoin’s 75% decline probably feels more like an ice age to many.
It’s important to bear in mind how ChatGPT works. Its responses reflect a synthesis of the collective wisdom the AI engine has gleaned from the internet. The current free version generating buzz has only digested data through 2021. Ask it a question drawing on current events, and you’ll get the cyber equivalent of a blank stare- or more precisely:
“I'm sorry, but my knowledge cutoff is 2021, and I am not able to browse the internet or access current information. I can only provide information and answer questions based on my pre-trained knowledge. Is there anything else I can help with?”
Stated differently- and lifted directly from ChatGPT’s FAQs
“ChatGPT is not connected to the internet, and it can occasionally produce incorrect answers. It has limited knowledge of world events after 2021 and may occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content.”
In other words, this poem was written from a January 2022 vantage point- when Bitcoin was still hovering near $40,000, and was only a couple of months removed from its all-time high. It’s reasonable to assume a solid share of crypto proponents still expected the chill to pass quickly. Sam Bankman-Fried remained months away from becoming a household name. Heck, we hadn’t even reached the ad barrage of the Crypto Bowl.
It would be fascinating to run this query again using a database refreshed through 2022 and see to what extent the poem’s tenor changes. On that front, it occurs to me that ChatGPT is essentially automating (and legitimizing?) “groupthink.”
Perhaps you’ve heard the rumor going around that not everything posted to the internet is entirely accurate. If enough people share questionable views, it will be reflected by ChatGPT- note the FAQ disclaimer regarding “incorrect answers” and “biased content.”
Derek rightly points out that social media culture and SEO (search engine optimization) have already breached this guardrail; however by stripping the “facts” of their sourcing, I’d argue ChatGPT takes it one step further. 
This is likely the reason “ChatGPT is not connected to the internet.” Bear in mind an incident a couple years back when Microsoft launched- and quickly recalled- a new chatbot after pranksters “taught” it to spew racist responses. I’m sure OpenAI’s leaders remember, and wisely avoided the reputational risk of such dynamic learning.  
Chat GPT is clearly a major development- and the $29 billion valuation implied by Microsoft’s investment signals that OpenAI has likely already sorted through some of the shortcomings in the current free edition (I also suspect the big breakthroughs will be reserved for its paid versions). These kinks tend to get worked out quickly once a solid foundation is established. In the short term, however, caution is in order before using the tool for more than entertainment purposes. 


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