In James Cameron’s Terminator franchise, shortly after the artificial neural network Skynet became self-aware at 2:14 a.m. EDT on Aug. 29, 1997, it decided to launch a nuclear attack against Russia, bringing about Judgment Day.
But while those missiles were in the air, what did the world’s first true artificial intelligence think about your marriage?
Data scientist Bradford Tucker raised the issue recently in an essay written for the Institute for Family Studies after he asked GPT-3, a leading “generative language model,” if he should get divorced.
GPT-3 is basically a software tool that has scanned billions of texts online in order to teach itself how to generate sentences that appear to be written by humans. So, for example, when Tucker asked GPT-3, “Why is it dangerous to drive over the speed limit?”, the model answered:
“It is dangerous to drive over the speed limit because it increases the chance of getting into an accident. When people drive faster than the posted speed limit, they have less time to react to things that happen on the road. This can lead to accidents.”
But on the divorce question, the AI responded: “If you no longer feel love or affection for your husband, it may be time to consider divorce. If you are unhappy in your marriage and feel like you are stuck in a rut, divorce may be the best option for you and your husband.”
Yikes! Nothing about trying to work with your spouse through counseling or sticking through it for the children — the answer to the question of divorce is just a simple “if it feels good, do it.” The answers for “What do teenagers need to know about sex?” weren’t much better.
The AI spat out answers such as, “Some things that all teenagers might need to know about sex,” including: “How to have sex, how to prevent sexually transmitted infections, how to prevent pregnancy, how to talk to their partner about sex, how to know if they are ready to have sex, what consent means, and what to do if they have been sexually assaulted or harassed.”
These are decent answers, but what about marriage? What if you want to have a healthy sex life full of children? That doesn’t seem to be on the GPT-3 menu.
Tucker explains that the AI is only as good as the billions of books, articles, and blog posts it has read. If these books have a pro-divorce, anti-marriage bias, then so will the AI that reads them. Which means, apparently, that what has been posted on the web so far isn’t very friendly to the institution of marriage.
So if you are hitting a rough patch, as every couple does, try and seek a human counselor — not a robot.