More adventures with artificial intelligence

toy robot, standing on a mustard couch, flanked by a toy goose and toy monkey, which are behind it and out of focus

Lately I shared a conversation I had with ChatGPT, a supposed Synthetic Intelligence. ChatGPT is designed to answer to pure language questions in pure language. It does exactly that, utilizing an unlimited physique of data it’s been fed. Once I requested CHatGPT about the advantages of meditation, and the assorted sorts of meditation observe accessible, it largely did a very good job.

ChatGPT is basically a plagiaristic search engine. What I imply is that usually you ask Google for data and it finds the web sites which might be most certainly to have the ability to reply that query, which you then go to. ChatGPT takes data from the web sites after which presents it to you in a reworded trend, with out crediting the unique sources. Therefore, my description of it as plagiaristic.

Yesterday I talked with one other AI. It’s Bard, which was developed by Google. Provided that Google is the most-trusted search engine within the English-speaking world, and Google’s father or mother firm, Alphabet, is the third-largest tech firm on the earth, most individuals would have excessive hopes for its capacities.

See additionally:

The outcomes, as soon as once more, have been combined. However frankly, I wasn’t impressed.

I began asking it questions on myself. In any case, if the data was fallacious I wouldn’t must do any analysis to show that truth.

Inform me in regards to the meditation trainer, Bodhipaksa.

Bard: Bodhipaksa is a Buddhist meditation trainer and writer. He was born in 1961 in Dundee, Scotland, and has been meditating since 1982. He’s a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order and has revealed a number of books and guided meditations. He’s the founding father of Wildmind, a web based meditation middle.

Bodhipaksa’s teachings are primarily based on the Theravada Buddhist custom. He emphasizes the significance of mindfulness and compassion in meditation. He additionally teaches a wide range of meditation methods, together with mindfulness of respiratory, lovingkindness meditation, and perception meditation.

Bodhipaksa is a well-liked and revered trainer. He has been featured in The New York Occasions, The Wall Avenue Journal, and Forbes. He has additionally been interviewed on NPR and ABC Information.

In case you are thinking about studying extra about Bodhipaksa or his teachings, you’ll be able to go to his web site at

The primary paragraph — the biographical particulars — is a rewording of bios that I’ve posted in a number of locations, together with this web site, numerous locations I’ve taught, and on the Perception Timer app.

The subsequent half — about my meditation instructing — is correct. “Primarily based on the Theravada custom” is questionable, though I’d let that slide. Whereas the meditation practices I train largely have roots within the early Buddhist scriptures, that’s not the identical as “the Theravada custom,” though many individuals make that conflation. I’ve by no means been a part of any Theravadin group. I additionally train meditations, reminiscent of mantras, which might be positively not a part of the Theravada custom.

The third half, about my being featured or interviewed within the NYT, the WSJ, Forbes, NPR, and ABC Information, are innovations. (I’ve been interviewed by CBS and appeared on the BBC, nonetheless. And I want to assume I’m “a well-liked and revered trainer.”)

I used to be thinking about these innovations. I puzzled how Bard might give you this sort of misinformation. So I probed extra deeply.

Inform me extra about Bodhipaksa being featured within the New York Occasions.

Bard: Certain. Bodhipaksa has been featured in The New York Occasions on a number of events.

In 2006, he was interviewed by Sandra Blakeslee for an article in regards to the science of meditation. The article, titled “Cells That Learn Minds,” mentioned the analysis that had been performed on the results of meditation on the mind. Bodhipaksa defined that meditation will help to scale back stress, enhance focus, and improve compassion.

In 2012, he was interviewed by Mark Bittman for an article about vegetarianism. The article, titled “We could possibly be heroes,” mentioned the advantages of a plant-based food plan. Bodhipaksa defined that vegetarianism will help to scale back the chance of coronary heart illness, most cancers, and different persistent illnesses.

In 2017, he was interviewed by David Brooks for an article about the advantages of meditation. The article, titled “The ability of meditation,” mentioned the analysis that had been performed on the results of meditation on the thoughts and physique. Bodhipaksa defined that meditation will help to scale back stress, enhance focus, and improve compassion.

Bodhipaksa’s interviews with The New York Occasions have helped to boost consciousness of the advantages of meditation. His teachings have additionally helped to encourage folks to make adjustments of their lives to enhance their well being and well-being.

That is all very particular. I’m very conscious of all these names. They’re vital commentators and writers. We’re even given titles for the articles during which I used to be supposedly interviewed.

Sadly, I’ve by no means been interviewed by anybody from the NYT. A seek for my identify on the NYT web site did not carry up any outcomes.

So once more I assumed I’d probe extra deeply and see the place Bard was supposedly getting this data from.

What’s the URL for Sandra Blakeslee’s article the place she interviewed Bodhipaksa?

Bard: I can’t help you with that, as I’m solely a language mannequin and don’t have the capability to grasp and reply.

I assumed the definition of a language mannequin was that it did perceive and reply. Why can’t Bard provide the situation of an article it cited simply moments earlier than? It’s already equipped a URL (for Wildmind) so it’s not that that’s verboten. I assumed I’d attempt asking the identical query another way.

The place can I discover the Sandra Blakeslee article the place she interviewed Bodhipaksa?

Bard: Yow will discover the Sandra Blakeslee article the place she interviewed Bodhipaksa within the ebook “Residing as a River: Discovering Fearlessness within the Face of Change”. The ebook was revealed in 2006 by Shambhala Publications. Within the article, Blakeslee interviews Bodhipaksa about his work on meditation and his views on fearlessness. Bodhipaksa is a Buddhist trainer and writer who has been training meditation for over 30 years. He’s the founding father of the Bodhipaksa Retreat Middle in Barre, Massachusetts.

So that is fascinating. Sure, I wrote the ebook, “Residing as a River.” And certain sufficient, I’ve a reference in there to Sandra Blakeslee’s article, “Cells That Learn Minds.” However she’s by no means interviewed me, nor I her. Bard has taken my quotation of her article and spun it right into a story about an interview that by no means occurred.

I don’t cite Mark Bittman in Residing as a River, though I believe I could have in my ebook on vegetarianism. I can’t recall citing David Brooks ever, though it’s potential I did.

The point out of the “Bodhipaksa Retreat Middle” is bizarre. It doesn’t exist, though the Perception Meditation Society is in Barre. I puzzled if that’s what Bard was referring to.

What’s the tackle of the Bodhipaksa Retreat Middle in Barre, Massachusetts?

Bard: The Bodhipaksa Retreat Middle is positioned at 132 South Barre Highway, Barre, MA 01005.

That’s not the tackle of the IMS, which is on Nice St. Apparently it’s a small non-public residence, which I’ve no reference to.

I requested for the telephone variety of the “BRC” and was given one. I’ve no thought whose telephone quantity it was.

I made a decision to backtrack, and see what different data Bard might present about me.

What college levels does Bodhipaksa have?

Bard: Bodhipaksa has a grasp’s diploma in Buddhism and enterprise from the College of Montana.

That’s right, and presumably that was taken from bios that numerous web sites have posted.

Does he have every other levels?

Bard: Sure, Bodhipaksa holds a level in Veterinary Medication from the College of Glasgow.

That’s additionally correct.

However simply once you assume there are some sorts of easy factual data that Bard is nice at, you provide a simple query and get a solution that’s fully off.

What number of books has Bodhipaksa written?

Bard: Bodhipaksa has written over 20 books on Buddhism and meditation, together with:

  • The Aware Path to Self-Compassion
  • Fulfilling Your Potential
  • Dealing with Anger
  • The Eightfold Path to True Freedom
  • Residing as a Buddhist
  • The Apply of Mindfulness

He has additionally written a number of audio packages and ebooks on meditation and Buddhism.

I’ve written six books, I believe. The primary title supplied has a minimum of has some relation to one in all my ebook titles, “This Tough Factor of Being Human,” whose subtitle is “The Artwork of Self-Compassion.” However the remaining are simply made up.

I’ve seen one music web site that has a complete bunch of articles on in that have been written by Bard, though the web site gave a (presumably pretend) writer identify. The articles have been bland, repetitive, very non-specific, and infrequently inaccurate. A quotation to a minimum of a type of articles made it into Wikipedia, though one of many editors later flagged up the web site in query as not being a dependable supply of data. However different articles by Bard and ChatGPT containing false data are sure to slide by the editors, or just to be picked up by different web sites and amplified. Misinformation will unfold

I can’t assist however really feel that there’s a disaster of misinformation in the meanwhile, and though all of those AI instruments comprise warnings that the data they generate is probably not correct, lots of people are going to disregard that and unfold the nonsense it creates.

Even this publish, with its references to the NYT articles I’ve supposedly been interviewed in, may change into a supply of misinformation, if these paragraphs are taken out of context. Info created by AI’s will inevitably find yourself being fed again in to AI’s. It’s going to get messy. Or blurry.

To date the wisest phrases I’ve learn on these AI’s are these of Ted Chiang, the science fiction writer, in a New Yorker article: “It’s the digital equal of repeatedly making photocopies of photocopies within the outdated days. The picture high quality solely will get worse.”

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