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Extra adventures with synthetic 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 dialog 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. After I requested CHatGPT about the advantages of meditation, and the assorted sorts of meditation follow out there, it largely did an excellent job.

ChatGPT is actually a plagiaristic search engine. What I imply is that usually you ask Google for info and it finds the web sites which can be more than likely to have the ability to reply that query, which you then go to. ChatGPT takes info from the web sites after which presents it to you in a reworded vogue, 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. On condition that Google is the most-trusted search engine within the English-speaking world, and Google’s dad or mum firm, Alphabet, is the third-largest tech firm on the planet, most individuals would have excessive hopes for its capacities.

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

I began asking it questions on myself. In spite of everything, if the knowledge was incorrect I wouldn’t need to do any analysis to display that truth.

Inform me in regards to the meditation instructor, Bodhipaksa.

Bard: Bodhipaksa is a Buddhist meditation instructor 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 printed a number of books and guided meditations. He’s the founding father of Wildmind, a web based meditation middle.

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

Bodhipaksa is a well-liked and revered instructor. 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.

If you’re fascinated with studying extra about Bodhipaksa or his teachings, you may 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, varied locations I’ve taught, and on the Perception Timer app.

The subsequent half — about my meditation educating — 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, similar to mantras, which can 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 wish to assume I’m “a preferred and revered instructor.”)

I used to be fascinated with these innovations. I puzzled how Bard may 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 accomplished on the consequences 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 might be heroes,” mentioned the advantages of a plant-based weight loss plan. Bodhipaksa defined that vegetarianism will help to scale back the danger of coronary heart illness, most cancers, and different power illnesses.

In 2017, he was interviewed by David Brooks for an article about the advantages of meditation. The article, titled “The facility of meditation,” mentioned the analysis that had been accomplished on the consequences 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 modifications 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 important commentators and writers. We’re even given titles for the articles wherein 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 deliver up any outcomes.

So once more I assumed I’d probe extra deeply and see the place Bard was supposedly getting this info 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 know 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 provided 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: You could find 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 printed 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 instructor and writer who has been training meditation for over 30 years. He’s the founding father of the Bodhipaksa Retreat Heart in Barre, Massachusetts.

So that is fascinating. Sure, I wrote the ebook, “Residing as a River.” And positive 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 doable I did.

The point out of the “Bodhipaksa Retreat Heart” 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 Heart in Barre, Massachusetts?

Bard: The Bodhipaksa Retreat Heart is situated 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 personal residence, which I’ve no reference to.

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

I made a decision to backtrack, and see what different info Bard may 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 varied web sites have posted.

Does he have some other levels?

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

That’s additionally correct.

However simply once you assume there are some sorts of easy factual info that Bard is sweet 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 Conscious Path to Self-Compassion
  • Fulfilling Your Potential
  • Dealing with Anger
  • The Eightfold Path to True Freedom
  • Residing as a Buddhist
  • The Observe of Mindfulness

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

I’ve written six books, I believe. The primary title provided has not less than has some relation to one in every of my ebook titles, “This Troublesome Factor of Being Human,” whose subtitle is “The Artwork of Self-Compassion.” However the remainder are simply made up.

I’ve seen one music web site that has an entire bunch of articles on in that had been written by Bard, though the web site gave a (presumably pretend) writer identify. The articles had been bland, repetitive, very non-specific, and infrequently inaccurate. A quotation to not less than a kind 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 info 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 knowledge they generate might not be correct, lots of people are going to disregard that and unfold the nonsense it creates.

Even this put up, with its references to the NYT articles I’ve supposedly been interviewed in, would possibly 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.

Up to now 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 previous days. The picture high quality solely will get worse.”


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