A Flawed Conversation with ChatGPT’s Chatbot

ChatGPT cartoon by Dan Rattiner
ChatGPT cartoon by Dan Rattiner

It’s said that chatbots are so unbelievably smart because billions and billions of facts saved on computers by humans have been shoved into the chatbot brains. Laden with this knowledge about everything, they smartly answer questions.

My son David Rattiner yesterday told me there’s no app for ChatGPT which, apparently, is all the rage. You go to Google, type in ChatGPT (or go to openai.com), press enter and follow instructions. And so I did that.

“Ask a question here,” ChatGPT said. I panicked. Hadn’t thought of it yet. So then I asked it the first thing that came to mind.

“Is Dan Rattiner considered a good writer?”

“Over the years I’ve written more than 15,000 stories for Dan’s Papers, the newspaper I founded in 1960. I’m sure Mr. Chatbot has read some of them. Or all of them. He should be able to come up with the answer. Has my life been a waste?”

It took 8 seconds to reply.

“Dan Rattiner is a well-known writer who founded The East Hampton Star newspaper in 1991, which has won numerous journalism awards. He is also the author of several books, including In the Hamptons Too, Still in the Hamptons and The Hamptons: Long Island’s East End. Overall, while opinions on his writing may vary, he is generally considered a respected writer and journalist in the Hamptons community.”

The part that just jumps out at you is this business of starting The East Hampton Star in 1991. I did not do that. Thinking about how “Joel” might have collected such inaccurate information (I call him Joel), I’ve concluded Joel was not paying attention when during his fact-cramming session the info about who I was and which newspaper I founded came up.

ChatGPT chatbot didn't get the facts right
ChatGPT chatbot didn’t get the facts right

Fact is, The East Hampton Star, in 1991, was run by a woman named Helen Rattray. Joel heard the part about somebody whose name began with “Ratt” founding a newspaper, but then didn’t hear the “iner” part.

Maybe he’d fallen asleep. I know I would have fallen asleep if I was getting all of recorded history shoved into my brain willy-nilly.

But the powers that be didn’t notice.

“Next!” they shouted, moving Joel along. He was “done.”

As for the rest of the reply, fact is, he dodged the question. Some readers think this, others think that. Here I was trying to justify my entire working life. And old chatbot tried to wiggle out of it.

There are those who say chatbots will change our entire lives. I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case. Remember you heard this first in Dan’s Papers.

And no newspaper was founded in the Hamptons in 1991, although one that Rattray owned covering Sag Harbor shut down in 1992.