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Computing Guru Criticizes ChatGPT AI Tech for Making Things Up

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Google chief Internet evangelist and former ACM president Vint Cerf.

Cerf said ChatGPT "knows how to string a sentence together that's grammatically likely to be correct," but it has no true knowledge of what it's saying. "We are a long way away from the self-awareness we want."

Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET

Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the internet, has some harsh words for the suddenly hot technology behind the ChatGPT AI chatbot: "Snake oil."

Google's Internet evangelist wasn't completely down on the artificial intelligence technology behind ChatGPT and Google's own competing Bard, called a large language model. But, speaking Monday at Celesta Capital's TechSurge Summit, he did warn about ethical issues of a technology that can generate plausible sounding but incorrect information even when trained on a foundation of factual material.

If an executive tried to get him to apply ChatGPT to some business problem, his response would be to call it snake oil, referring to bogus medicines that quacks sold in the 1800s, he said. Another ChatGPT metaphor involved kitchen appliances.

"It's like a salad shooter — you know how the lettuce goes all over everywhere," Cerf said. "The facts are all over everywhere, and it mixes them together because it doesn't know any better."

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