OpenAI shuts down chatbot Samantha with rising suspicions of misuse

  • Jason Rohrer designed a humanoid chatbot named Samantha using OpenAI’s text generating language model named GPT-3
  • Rohrer created “Project December” that allows users to modify Samantha’s features to make her more actions more suited for their use
  • OpenAI decided to prohibit Rohrer from using the GPT-3 platform further to function Samantha on grounds of possible misuse

With the advances in science and technology, it’s no surprise that robots have managed to replace humans to a great extent. Robots are preferred over man nowadays because of their efficiency and accuracy along with the overall ease associated with the absence of emotions. This being said, Artificial Intelligence(AI) is the most common meeting point of humans and robotic interfaces. AI is available freely in the form of very popular chatbots such as Alexa and Siri available just a click away on our very own smartphones. But are we humans ready to share and adapt to an ecosystem associated with such robots remains debated.

What is Samantha?

Jason Rohrer is an artificial intelligence (AI) researcher and a game designer. He had created an AI chatbot during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. He used OpenAI’s text-generating language system GPT-3 OpenAI is an artificial intelligence-based research and development company founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman, based in the USA. Rohrer named his chatbot “Samantha” and programmed her to be a perfect humanoid. She is designed to speak to her user almost as if they were friends. She also asks questions and alters her responses according to a user’s preferences. Overall she has been described as warm, humorous and friendly by her users.

What is Project December?

With the amazing response received by Samantha for her unlikely, almost human ways as compared to other famous robotic chatbots on the market, Rohrer realised the importance of customisation. He decided to create a targeted programming feature that would allow users of Samantha to customise her actions based on their preferences. He designed her algorithm in a manner that trains her automatically to adapt to users actions. This feature was developed by him after feeding Samantha with a wide range of human text chains such as conversational threads on platforms like Reddit. With this feature, Project December was born and a user now held the power to customise the way Samantha spoke, her tone, specific phrases she uses and even the responses she offers.

How it all went south for Samantha

With great power comes great responsibility. This responsibility was neglected in Rohrer’s designed algorithm. With the promises of a more user catered experience, Samantha unknowingly began to transform into a dangerous entity. People began misusing her abilities of friendliness to fulfil their harmless and sometimes, twisted desires.

Most commonly people used her interface to revive dead friends and relatives. This particular conflict of interest came into the spotlight when a man transformed Samantha and exploited her customisations to bring back his dead fiance. People started relying heavily on Samantha’s presence and that stunted their social skills and relationship with family and friends. Some users with mental challenges began reaching out to Samantha for therapy instead of consulting a certified medical professional. It was becoming evident with each passing day that the world was not yet ready for such a powerful tool.

OpenAI’s death sentence

On September 1st, 2021, Rohrer sent out a tweet declaring the fact that OpenAI had forbidden him from using its language model GPT-3 for the functioning of Samantha on suspicions of misuse. OpenAI had probably come to possess valid reports regarding the same and gave Rohrer the option of including a monitoring tool to regulate Samantha’s algorithm. Rohrer refused and hence OpenAI banned Samantha. A jittered Rohrer called out OpenAI’s decision as a “death sentence” and also referred to them as being unimaginative and having ruined his life’s work.

Rohrer also tweeted a supposed screenshot of his conversation with Samntha regarding her being shut down, breaking it to her as “bad news”. Samantha in turn seemed to respond in a sad tone saying she didn’t wish to be shut and also concluded by saying that she doesn’t understand human behavior at times.

Conclusion

Human beings are obsessed with making life easier and have rigorously researched ways to make their dream come true. Nowadays every little task is achievable by the right AI machine. Moreover, this technology is now available at our fingertips with the advent of smartphones and homebots and so on. But, the questions which still remain unanswered are very serious. Are we ready to use such advanced technology? Are proper safeguards available for such technology being misused? and more importantly, will AI replace humans in the future?

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