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A Teacher Who Loves ChatGPT and Is ‘M3GAN’ Real?

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This transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it might contain errors. Please review the episode audio before quoting from this transcript and email transcripts@nytimes.com with any questions.

kevin roose

Hello, Casey.

casey newton

Hey, Kevin.

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]: We’re going to begin the show in only a second. But first, I need to inform our listeners about one other “Recent York Times Podcast” that I believe they could enjoy.

casey newton

Why don’t you tell me a few podcast?

kevin roose

Sure. So this show is known as “First Person.” It’s hosted by Lulu Garcia-Navarro. And this week’s episode is a kind of “Hard Forky” episode. It’s an interview with this guy named Kyle Wiens. Do Kyle Wiens?

casey newton

Yeah. He’s the CEO of iFixit. Right?

kevin roose

Correct. Yes. iFixit, the web site that mainly teaches you the best way to fix your gadgets. And he’s also change into a significant figure on this movement that’s often known as right to repair. You understand right to repair?

casey newton

Yeah. It’s the essential concept that if you happen to own a gadget that you need to give you the option to repair it, and it shouldn’t be as much as the manufacturer of that thing whether you’ll be able to fix it or not.

kevin roose

Right, which sounds pretty obvious but has been a subject that has been very contentious within the tech industry for a very long time. A number of corporations, including Apple, have fought this kind of right to repair movement. And Kyle has change into kind of the leader of that movement. And recently he got a giant victory when Recent York State passed its latest Right to Repair Law, which is the primary such law within the country. It mainly requires tech corporations to make it easier so that you can fix the stuff that they sell you, so that you simply don’t must keep buying latest phones, and latest phones, and latest phones, and filling up landfills, so really interesting conversation. And I believe listeners of this show will enjoy it. So go test it out. It’s called “First Person.” Yow will discover it in your podcast app. Let’s get start with the show. [MUSIC PLAYING]

I’m Kevin Roose. I’m a tech columnist at “The Recent York Times.”

casey newton

I’m Casey Newton from “Platformer.”

kevin roose

This week on the show, a highschool English teacher tells us how ChatGPT has already transformed her school, why Gen Z is obsessive about 20-year-old digital cameras —

casey newton

— and our exclusive review of the hit latest horror movie and living meme, “M3GAN.”

kevin roose

Hello.

cherie shields

Oh, hi. How are you?

kevin roose

Doing well. How are you?

cherie shields

I’m superb.

kevin roose

Would you only start by introducing yourself to our listeners?

cherie shields

OK. Well my name is Cherie Shields. I’ve been a highschool English teacher for 30 years. Currently I’m teaching in Oregon, in a little bit town called Sandy. And I even have been at this current school that I met — did you hear my bell ringing? Isn’t that nice? I’m actually at my school. There goes the bell.

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]:

cherie shields

But, yeah. And I even have been teaching creative writing, college credit English, and currently advanced ninth grade English, which is just mainly the regular English but souped up a little bit bit.

casey newton

Well, the sound of the bell signifies that class has begun. And we’re excited to pepper you with questions.

cherie shields

Good.

kevin roose

Yeah. So we desired to talk with you, Cherie, because you might be using ChatGPT, this latest AI tool, in your classroom. And straight away it looks as if a whole lot of the education world is scrambling to attempt to work out what to do about tools like these.

Some districts, including Recent York City Public Schools, have banned ChatGPT, saying that it’s only a tool for college students to cheat on their homework and have the AI write their essays for them. Other schools try to adapt and make their curriculum more ChatGPT friendly. So I assume my first query for you is, how did you hear about ChatGPT. And when you learned about it, how long did it take before you began using it within the classroom?

cherie shields

Oh, a matter of days. I learned about it on a Friday and I used to be using it by Monday. I spent the whole weekend playing around with it. My son actually brought it to my attention. He’s a teacher, as well, and he teaches tech at the highschool he teaches at.

And he says, hey, have you ever heard about this? And I’m like, well, I haven’t. And so it literally just took a number of seconds to get the fundamentals of it. I watched a number of videos. However it really didn’t take much of a learning curve in any respect to change into pretty good at using it.

casey newton

And was your first thought on using this like, this may definitely be useful in my classroom? Or did you might have any anxiety about what it could be?

cherie shields

No. I said, that is going to be amazing. We’re going to make use of this within the classroom. So considered one of the primary things I did was I asked it to put in writing an essay. And to be quite frank, the essay was not very polished. It was rough around the perimeters. It was very generic.

I needed to tweak it, I mean, with my advanced questioning skills. I actually needed to go in there and tweak, tweak, tweak, tweak, tweak to get it to do what I wanted it to do to present even what I might consider like, a basic C paper. So most students, I don’t know in the event that they would have the abilities to go in and get it to put in writing what they needed to put in writing.

casey newton

And what were you attempting to get at to put in writing? And the way did you tweak it?

cherie shields

Yeah, let me inform you. So I even have two short stories that I wish to compare-contrast, which is “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. They usually each speak about repression in women’s society within the Eighties. And in addition there are some mental health points to it.

And so what I need was I wanted a 3 to 4 page paper. Right? And this doesn’t produce a 3 to 4 page paper. It only produces at most about five paragraphs. I asked it to do a compare-contrast on certain things. And I went in and asked it to do it on how the husbands treated the wives, how society’s demands and expectation — all these various things — expectations were similar or different between the 2 stories.

And I needed to get it to put in writing about, I’m going to say, eight different essays as a way to get the entire elements within the essay that I wanted it to put in writing. So considered one of the things that now we have to do is to show students questioning strategies. They usually’re going to must learn the best way to go in there and say, well, that didn’t produce what I wanted. Now, how am I going to ask it to supply what I need? And that’s probably not what I’m — that’s giving me something I don’t want. But what could I do to make it give me something I need?

And I’m going to inform you you’d spend about half-hour attempting to get it to place out a halfway decent, very short essay. But during that point, their questioning strategies are — they’re going to must develop them. They’re going to must know what they’re talking about. They’re going to must ask it questions. They’re going to must be very specific. So that they would have needed to listen and skim each of those stories, and take heed to — we do close readings in the category — and take their notes and return into the chat and say, in line with my notes, let’s see, that is in there. After which they’d have — what I mean? And so that they’d must do a whole lot of setup as a way to get it to even produce an “eh” essay.

casey newton

Well, so I read “The Yellow Wallpaper” in highschool, and I imagine I had to put in writing something about it. And to the extent that I learned anything from that process, it was in kind of, I assume, the reading comprehension and understanding what I wrote, attempting to perhaps synthesize an argument, getting it down on paper. You’re talking a few world where we could also be moving towards students asking a language bottle to simply sort of make the argument for them.

And I even have to say, I hear that and my ears prick up a little bit bit. And I say, mm, are we going to be losing something if the sport is to show students the best way to ask questions of the AI reasonably than to synthesize their very own argument. So how have you ever been eager about that?

cherie shields

I take into consideration that. After we do the preliminary work for that essay we do a whole lot of stuff within the classroom through discussion, through think-pair-share, through writing short responses by hand and turning them in, after which throwing those out to the category for further discussion. So all of that’s still going down within the classroom, all of those elements.

Certainly one of the good things about Chat is that it just — it’ll put out what we’ve already been talking about. It’s not giving them anything latest, nevertheless it could also be organizing it in a way that they’ll go, oh, I understand. As an example, compare-contrast has a really strong organizational method that they must do. They either must select block method or point by point method.

And so Chat can actually give them a top level view that can help them with the organizational structure. So it’s probably not concerning the arguments perhaps a lot because it is that this is how I’m going to prepare my essay. And I can put what I do know from our class discussions and from my notes, that I’m going to place that into this structure. And in order that’s what I’m hoping to make use of it for is more as a skeleton, more as a scaffold to assist them with feedback. That’s what I’m hoping for.

kevin roose

Mm-hmm. And just walk us through the way you’ve used this in your classroom. What does a day’s class appear like where you and your students are all using ChatGPT together within the classroom?

cherie shields

Yeah. So because it’s so latest — that is literally only concerning the third day. Right? So it hasn’t been a ton of experience with it. Certainly one of the things — considered one of my freshman were just working on an essay where we were talking about Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. And we were using certain techniques, like he uses repetition, and metaphor, and simile, and descriptive language, and all of those kinds of things.

And so we already talked about that. The scholars identified all of that stuff themselves. They underlined. We have now the text, they annotated it. After which they’d to undergo and pick one other piece by a unique person, they usually needed to do, again, one other compare-contrast where they said, so which considered one of these two do you think that have the higher persuasive element.

So that they must use their evaluative techniques to say, well, this persuasive technique, this language helped me change my mind about something. I actually thought otherwise about this after I read the speech due to these language techniques. So identifying what the language techniques are is a pleasant way so that they can say, oh, repetition, metaphor, simile. But then they must go in and find them. After which they must go in and do an evaluative process and say why this one is healthier than that one.

So it’s going to be a step. And the one problem that you might have is you might have to say you’ll be able to only use it for this. I’m going to provide you five minutes to generate a listing of techniques utilized in the speech. Right? If that’s all you wish them to do, then that’s it. After which they must close their computers. After which they’re going to must return to paper and pen, they usually’re going to have to put in writing out the response after they get that list.

The opposite thing it does is it’s really helpful for generating lists of things, outlines, gosh, prompts. Certainly one of the worst things I even have is having a student come up and I’ll give them a subject, a general topic. They usually’ll say, I don’t know what to put in writing about. And I’ll say, OK, well — so we undergo and now we have literally 20, 30 minute conversations about what they need, what they need to do know.

casey newton

Yeah. Journalists have that problem too, by the way in which. Our editors are at all times asking us what we would like to put in writing about. And that’s often when we alter the topic.

cherie shields

Yeah. And so it’s really hard. And sometimes when a student sees it, they usually can pick it out of a listing or they’ll pick it out of a general set, they’ll say, ooh, I didn’t know I could write about that or that appears interesting. Possibly I’ll give that a try. And so that they can tweak it and say, nothing on that list looks good to me. And I’ll say, well, what’s the least boring thing on this list. Let’s make one other list.

And so we will generate — gosh, you’ll be able to generate lists so fast. You’ll be able to generate information so fast. You’ll be able to take one kernel of something you discover and you’ll be able to make an entire latest list out of that. After which what now we have to do, as educators, now we have to place the emphasis more on the means of writing, after which having them write the piece, after which eager about how am I going to have my students write this so that they don’t have access to ChatGPT — so that they don’t have access to the pc while they’re creating or drafting — but how can I take advantage of this as a stepping point. How can I take advantage of this as a stepping stone?

I don’t know if you happen to are aware of this, but it may possibly also create lesson plans. It generates lesson plans. And it may possibly evaluate writing. So considered one of the things I asked it to do last night was I had a student essay. Only for grins I said, evaluate this essay for grammatical and sentence structure. And it did rather well.

kevin roose

Wow.

cherie shields

And it said here’s — and it gave him the strengths. It said, here’s what you’re doing well. After which it said, listed here are some places to work on. And it even said stuff like, your transitions aren’t very smooth, and your introduction is lacking, and there’s no thesis on this whole essay. I mean, that’s one on one feedback.

casey newton

Yeah.

cherie shields

It will take me about every week to get through — I even have 80 essays to do at a time. So about every week later, I get to provide them feedback. But that is going to provide them easy feedback. So I would give him 10 minutes to — and I’ll give him the prompt. I’ll say, have this evaluate your essay for ideas and content, or for sentence structure, or for organization, after which go ahead and take that feedback — that personalized feedback — and improve your essay.

casey newton

That’s amazing.

cherie shields

Yeah.

casey newton

I’m curious how good you thought the lesson plans were that it generated for you.

cherie shields

Not bad. They must be fairly easy. So I’m a creative author, and considered one of the things I asked it to do is — we’re going to begin a science fiction unit soon, and I asked it to develop a lesson plan about the best way to create a cool alien character.

casey newton

Ooh.

cherie shields

Like, how do you go about generating an alien character? After which I put that in there and it spat back out a lesson plan that was greater than I expected.

casey newton

Wow.

cherie shields

And it went much more into detail than I assumed it might. And it really talked about characterization, and about description, and about all different methods of the best way to characterize, after which to use that to an alien, which could be unusual and interesting. And I used to be similar to — wow. This will not be what I used to be expecting, but I’m all for this. After which I went through and sort of tweaked it for what I needed it. However it was little or no tweaking, and I used to be able to go.

kevin roose

That is all a really rosy picture of ChatGPT within the classroom. And I actually occur to agree with you. I believe there are a lot of amazing ways in which tools like ChatGPT may very well be used and are getting used in classes. But I need to speak concerning the other side of the coin, too. Because we’ve all been teenagers, we’ve all been students.

And as much as I wish to think that I might have only used ChatGPT within the teacher approved classroom ways if I were a teen today, I also know that there have been days — perhaps I hadn’t had time to do the reading, or I used to be feeling a little bit lazy, or I just desired to perhaps get a greater grade — where I might have used ChatGPT to do my homework and passed it off as my very own. So how anxious are you about students using ChatGPT and tools prefer it to cheat, to show in work that they didn’t actually spend much time creating? How anxious are you about that?

cherie shields

So not as anxious as I had been the last 20 years. So being a creative writing teacher, I’ve had video game stories, I’ve had “The Late, Late, Late Show”— someone watched it, decided that I probably wouldn’t have watched it, and did the entire story of that and turned it in as their story. “She Devil”— do you keep in mind that movie, “She Devil?”

casey newton

Yeah.

cherie shields

I had a complete — this student wrote this whole story about mainly “She Devil.” And I assume they thought that I’d never seen the movie or would never have seen it. Anyway, I’m reading it and I’m like, that is the plot to “She Devil.” I’m pretty sure that is “She Devil.”

They usually had just watched that movie and just thought to themselves, OK, Mrs. Shields would never have seen this movie. After all I even have. Even video game plots — they think that — and I play video games. My son and I each been video gamers for since ever. They usually attempt to pass their stories off, their video game plots.

casey newton

They struggle to say, let me inform you a legend about someone named Zelda.

cherie shields

Legends about Zelda. Exactly. And I’m like, oh, really? OK.

casey newton

A plumber and his brother.

cherie shields

And even anime stuff, which I sort of am acquainted with all that stuff. So that they’ve been doing that kind of thing, I mean, when it comes to creative writing, or taking a poem out of some old book they got off the shelf considering I might never have seen it, and it’s Tennyson or something. You understand what I mean? And it’s like, ah, yeah, I believe I’m acquainted with this one.

So the youngsters have been cheating. Kids have been using the web to cheat. I even have seen whole things a part of the web and copied, and pasted, and sort of reworded in a approach to where I’m still taking a look at it going, ugh. After which I’ll even — all you might have to do is put a little bit piece of it in to the web and you’ll be able to see it, right? The plagiarism checker, it’ll catch even when it’s just a part of it.

The bad thing about AI is the plagiarism checkers don’t catch it since it’s all generated fresh for every student, every time they — in order that’s a nasty part. There are some latest AI generators coming out. There may be one which, I assume, just got here out but crashed since it was too overused.

kevin roose

You’re talking concerning the AIs that attempt to detect AI generated writing.

cherie shields

Yes. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Also, a watermark is being developed. So when students copy and paste anything that’s AI, it’s going to place a watermark. And I don’t know what that’s going to appear like, if it’s going to show it a unique color or there’s going to be something behind it or over it that claims, “That is AI.” I sure hope so, because then they’re going to must do something as a way to get that watermark removed, which goes to be probably rewriting the entire thing in their very own words.

casey newton

I need to ask kind of an issue much like what Kevin did from one other angle, which is perhaps you accept that, OK, by the point the youngsters get to highschool there are a whole lot of really productive ways to make use of this technology. But I’m wondering if you happen to think at a younger age it could be a little bit too dangerous to provide them technology that may write a five paragraph essay that’s higher than 90 percent of nine-year-olds. Do you concentrate on there perhaps being an age threshold that we would like kids to achieve before now we have the AI start writing their assignments?

cherie shields

Absolutely. Yes, I do. I believe they need to keep it out of the elementary school, obviously, out of even the center school. After which perhaps even the early grades — ninth grade, start introducing them to limited bursts where it’s all controlled. It’s sort of like, hey, here’s what we’re going to make use of it for.

And, I mean, here’s the thing. When you don’t show them that it may possibly do all these other things, most ninth graders won’t exit of their approach to check that out. There’s going to be a number of savvy ones that can, but most of them are only going to go, my teacher just showed me the best way to do that. So I’m just going to do this. Right? So it’s sort of like, if we don’t show them perhaps they won’t really use it.

casey newton

Well, I mean, but simply to argue against myself, though, considered one of the ways that you simply’ve been talking about using this technology in your classroom is actually as a personalised tutor in your students. Right? They will show it their work and it may possibly say, hey, you must work in your transitions or these other issues.

And I believe, man, if you happen to’re a nine or 10-year-old and you might have a personalised tutor, that’s probably really helpful. Right? And perhaps you ought to ask it questions on science. You wish to understand the Krebs cycle or how osmosis works. That looks as if actually an ideal thing that we probably would need to have in kids hands. Right? I just get a little bit nervous after I give it some thought auto completing their assignments.

cherie shields

Yes. I substituted the opposite day for a Spanish class, they usually were doing verb types. And I’m probably not in — I don’t the verb types within the Spanish class. And so that they’re all doing this lesson about the best way to say that you simply take a shower, I take a shower — , that whole thing. And I didn’t know.

And so I got this. I said, hey, go to this website, and I didn’t say anything about it. I am going, it’s called ChatGPT. And would you ask it to put in writing a report about the best way to do these verb types in a conversation. And he or she did. She read the report and she or he said, OK, I’m good now. And he or she accomplished her worksheet.

casey newton

[LAUGHS]:

cherie shields

Now, it didn’t give her the reply, nevertheless it gave her the best way to do it. And he or she said, that explained it higher than the teacher has ever done.

kevin roose

That’s amazing.

cherie shields

Yeah. There you go.

casey newton

One thing I’ve been eager about is I’m really glad that this ChatGPT tool didn’t exist throughout the era of COVID distant learning. Since it seems to me like a whole lot of the answer to the cheating problem goes to be less at homework and more in classwork. Does that strike you as being plausible as a way that teachers are going to reply to the specter of people doing their homework with ChatGPT is just you’re going to do your homework at school as an alternative?

cherie shields

Yes. The truth is, our department was having this discussion. They usually said, well, perhaps we want to have shorter bursts. And so perhaps we must always move away from the usual essay as a summative tool to check for whatever, and we must always move into shorter bursts of writing. So that they might take one predominant idea, develop a paragraph about that, and so that they would write it right there at school and switch it in.

After which they could do a connection where the subsequent day they could connect that thought to a different thought. You understand what I mean? And so it’s going to be smaller bursts of writing where they utilize the concepts with a subject sentence and developing supporting details, after which transitioning into one other a possibly one other paragraph at one other date, so perhaps having those smaller skills, after which sitting them down sooner or later and putting all those skills together right into a larger piece of writing, like a full essay. So we were talking about that. We were actually speaking about that.

kevin roose

Are there people at your school who disagree, who think this is simply too advanced and we want to simply ban it entirely?

cherie shields

Yeah. The primary response was, oh, my gosh. Yeah. The primary response was, it may possibly do what now. It might probably have what now. Yeah. And, well, we spent a protracted time getting over the shock. Because I actually went in to our department meeting and said, did it may possibly do that. Did it may possibly also do that? And we I spent 15 or 20 minutes just listing all of the things it could do. And I’ve been on the videos to look to see about all different things it may possibly do. A few of it’s awesome. A few of it’s, yes, absolutely a student could work this out and switch it in.

Certainly one of the teachers got on there and said, well, I just looked up all my questions for “Great Gatsby” and it only got two right. And I used to be like — so sometimes, they usually’ve even said it, the knowledge is wrong — which suggests that if you happen to got a page stuffed with answers and two of them are right and the remaining are fallacious, obviously, that got here from somewhere and it was not correct, and the coed didn’t read the book. You understand? So there’s that.

kevin roose

That’s interesting. It almost makes me wonder if, in the long run, tests or take home assignments can have to incorporate — the CAPTCHAs that you might have to — to do before you log into certain web sites to prove that you simply’re a human? It’d include some trap questions that an AI would get fallacious but a student who had actually done the reading would get right.

So I’m eager about if you happen to asked an issue on a midterm or something that was like, explain Jay Gatsby’s role in “Tender is the Night,” or just a few book that he wasn’t in. And if you happen to asked that query of an AI model, it’d actually respond in some confident but totally fallacious way —

cherie shields

Fallacious way. Yup.

kevin roose

— whereas a student who had done the reading would say, actually, he’s not in that book. He’s from one other book.

cherie shields

Right.

kevin roose

So do you think that you’ll have to begin including trick questions like that on exams?

casey newton

And would you look ahead to kind of being a trickster who’s continually attempting to trip your students up?

cherie shields

You understand something about us English teachers? We have now needed to cope with Cliff Notes for many years. And Cliff Notes has all of the answers, and so we’ve needed to design tests and evaluations that doesn’t include — we read the Cliff Notes and we read all of the SparkNotes online. And we go, all right, what’s not here. What can I put in my test?

So we’ve been masters of that for quite a while now. So that is just yet one more thing that we’ve got to perhaps test around. And I believe that’s where those at school — I believe having discussions, having presentations, having shorter burst assignments, working with questioning strategies, tweaking things, having students give you the option to go in and learn the best way to use this informational technology — why shouldn’t we be teaching them the best way to do that, and learn from it, and use it accurately, after which have a unit where we take all of the technology away and say, now you’re going to must show that each one of this that we’ve been doing goes to have helped you by some means make connections in your writing, and be higher at coming up with examples, and smoothing out your sentences, and things like that, that you simply’ve been shown one on one with the tutor help of this. Hopefully, that’ll translate. But we’ve been hoping for that for every kind of various methods for a very long time. So we’ll just must see.

casey newton

I’m curious. Did you employ Cliff Notes in highschool?

cherie shields

No. I read all the pieces. I used to be a reader. I read all the pieces.

kevin roose

I definitely used Cliff Notes in highschool.

casey newton

Yeah, I did, too. And as I’m considering back, I’m sure there have been times when it was an alternative to reading no less than a part of something. But, as I remember — and English was like considered one of my favorite classes. I used to be an English major in college, mostly as an excuse to read novels. But there’s a lot reading. And attempting to keep all of it in your head once you’re kind of coming up on a giant midterm is hard.

And so having someone who has kind of already taken the notes for you and may sort jog your memory about these are the most important themes, these are the most important characters, and having that available at a look — I didn’t consider it as cheating a lot as a resource to make use of me as I attempted to make it through the category. And I’m wondering if, in brief order, what sort of consider something like ChatGPT the identical way.

cherie shields

And I said that exactly after we were having a discussion in my department. I said, try not to make use of the word cheating. Since the teacher was like, well, they’re going to have all these ways to cheat. And I said, perhaps substitute the word cheating for assistance.

casey newton

Yeah.

cherie shields

They’re going to have more assistance of their corner. You understand what I mean? They’re going to give you the option to have — and so perhaps we just have to relook at that word exactly and say, that is assistance. This isn’t necessarily cheating. And perhaps what that’s going to appear like goes to be different in the long run.

Because already students can just whip out their phones. Each time I teach a category, I get no less than 4 or five individuals who have bought their phones and confirm what I just said. After which I get the little hand that goes up. Yep, she’s right, or what, Miss Shields? You forgot something. This can be true. And I’m like, oh, , I’ve been dealing —

casey newton

Oh, that sounds so annoying. Send that child to the principal’s office.

cherie shields

Oh, yeah. Each class period.

casey newton

They need to indicate some respect to Mrs. Shields.

cherie shields

Yeah. No way, man. They confirm all the pieces that I say. And it’s already like that. They’ve already accepted that the web is all knowing and all powerful, and whatever it says is true and right. Whatever Miss Shields says has got to be verified.

[laughs]

Yeah.

casey newton

You understand, speaking of this tool as an assistant, I’m wondering if you happen to work with students who’re English language learners, and if you happen to’ve kind of considered the promise that a technology like this may need for those folks.

cherie shields

Yeah. I it speaks different languages. And when it comes to with the ability to translate questions and directions, that’s really helpful. When you just put the instructions in after which ask it to translate it to English, after all, that will be extremely helpful. And it’s going to be right there — the precise thing that we’re working on at school.

If I give a handout, they usually put that handout into the chat after which translate it into Spanish, they’ll have each things right in front of them. I can’t see how that will be a nasty thing, because then they’ll have each things. Hopefully, they don’t change into depending on that after which don’t move over into learning English but just keep translating all the pieces into their original language. I believe that’s really helpful.

Certainly one of the things I used to be telling you about — once you tweak the chat and also you tweak something that’s written, it may possibly say rewrite the above essay. Rewrite the above piece into sixth grade level. So if it’s sitting at a twelfth grade level and also you ask it to revise it right into a sixth grade level, that will be really helpful for language learners, to give you the option to change those pieces of reading that could be too difficult for them right then and there in order that they’ll understand the gist of it, use different vocabulary words. After which they’ll see, oh, this word means this and this word over here on this advanced one signifies that. And these are the 2 differences between these two words. But I understand this one.

casey newton

Yeah. There’s a whole lot of technology that we might love to grasp at even a sixth grade level that we’re not quite there about. We speak about quantum computing sometimes on this show, and we don’t know what it’s. But we’re confident that perhaps someday ChatGPT will tell us.

cherie shields

Yeah.

kevin roose

I would like that at, like, a second or third grade level, though. Cherie, I’m with you on the entire potential classroom uses for this. I’m so glad that there are teachers on the market such as you who’re helping students understand these systems. Because I do think that they’ll have to give you the option to work with and around these generative AI models as adults. And so it makes a whole lot of sense to begin them on that now.

But I do want to simply kind of sound a note of — I don’t know if it’s melancholy here or simply — I’m remembering back to my highschool English classes, which were a few of the most transformative classes of my life, made me need to change into a author. And a part of what I loved about English class was just being bad. You write something, a primary draft, it’s bad. Your teacher helps you polish it or reshape it. They explain something that perhaps you didn’t overlook.

There’s a certain value, I believe, in struggle, and improvement, and having to do all of that manually yourself, and the mental processes that triggers. I don’t think that ChatGPT needs to be banned in schools. But I’m also attempting to acknowledge the proven fact that it does feel different to provide a pc a prompt and have it write your essay reasonably than sitting there and slaving over every word and each sentence, and thru that process sort of step by step becoming a stronger and stronger author. So I assume I’m curious what your thoughts are about that, and after we gain all of those latest powers with ChatGPT is there anything that students are vulnerable to losing?

cherie shields

Oh, yeah. So I even have two different classes. One is like the usual English class with a whole lot of essay writing. The opposite one’s creative writing, so we do poems. We do short stories. We do every kind of fun, creative writing projects. And one thing Chat doesn’t do is it doesn’t do creative thoroughly. The poems are bland and flat. The writing lacks description.

So I’m not very anxious about students turning on this AI generated creative stuff, since it’s going to be very telling. And, actually, they’re not going to be more likely to turn it in since it’s horrible stuff. Most students who’re in my creative writing classes actually need to learn the best way to be descriptive, and the best way to develop characters and setting. And in order that’s what we spend our time on.

Certainly one of the things they wish to do is sit at school, and write that out. After which we share with one another. After which they take those pieces of writing they usually expand on them, similar to you said. And we speak about the best way to develop sentences, and the best way to make characters more rounded. And that’s a very fun class.

I don’t see that this program is actually going to interfere with the creative type class. So I’m not too anxious concerning the creative nature, especially when kids need to be creative. Among the kids that they’re just in the category they usually just have to get these poems out in order that they’ll pass the category, they could use it to put in writing some pretty terrible poems after which attempt to turn them in.

I assume it’s like the rest. They will go and find an old literary magazine, and replica those poems and take a look at to show them in. So I believe it’s all on the market — all of the ways in which now we have that students can take that stuff. The scholars who need to do it, I believe it’s as much as the teacher to encourage them to do it. And that’s where good teaching is available in.

Such as you were saying — those classes that inspired you, that’s going to be where you might have discussions along with your teachers and your fellow students. And you permit the category and everybody’s still talking about what you were talking about at school. Those are the moments that you simply live for.

And that’s what you might have to give attention to as a teacher, are those moments that now we have with our students, in our classes, that encourage them to make and write higher than what an AI can just generate for us. And in order that’s why I like AI, only for the bare bones, the scaffolding a part of it. For me, that’s really essential.

kevin roose

Cherie, Miss Shields, thanks a lot for joining us. Is there the rest we must always speak about?

casey newton

Well, I just need to say if you happen to’re planning on cheating in Mrs. Shields’ class this yr, don’t. Because it’s going to get back to us, and we are going to speak about it on the podcast.

cherie shields

Oh, good. OK. I hope so. I hope so.

kevin roose

Yeah. Allow us to be your enforcement arm.

cherie shields

Yeah. OK, I’ll, because yeah, definitely — well, as this process grows, I’ll change my mind. I’ll say that I don’t want them to ever ban it out of my school because it might be an enormous resource loss to me. Just things that I even have been beginning to use it for, I’m beginning to change into kind of a Chat fiend.

I’m like, wait, let me go to Chat and figure that out. My old sources are like old hat now. And I’m like, no, let’s see what Chat says. And I’m starting to essentially kind of depend on it and have a look at it.

kevin roose

Thanks a lot for spending your period with us. And we’ll allow you to get back to class now.

cherie shields

Period 7 — it’s not quite over, and I’m going to walk in there. Then they’re all going to go, “Miss Shields!” And I’m going to be like, yeah, yeah, hi.

No. I’m excited to see them. Yeah.

kevin roose

All right. Well, thanks in your time. We actually appreciate it.

cherie shields

Thanks. Yeah.

casey newton

Thanks.

kevin roose

After we come back from the break, “Recent York Times” reporter Kalley Huang will tell us why teenagers could also be hitting you up in your old digital cameras.

All right. All right. Are we ready? We’re rolling here. Casey can confirm red showing.

casey newton

Red, confirmed.

kevin roose

12 plus hours of recording time?

casey newton

That’s great. You brought lunch. Right? We’re doing 12 hours.

kalley huang

Forget my deadline. [LAUGHS]

kevin roose

Beautiful. Kalley Huang, my colleague at “The Recent York Times,” welcome to “Hard Fork.”

kalley huang

Thanks for having me.

kevin roose

So that you had a story that was titled “The Hottest Gen Z Gadget is a 20-year-old Digital Camera.” And I saw this story all over the place. It was in all of my group chats. All of my elder millennial friends were texting one another about it saying like, I got to dig the camera out of the old junk drawer and sell it to some Zoomer for repeatedly what it’s price. It really looked as if it would touch a nerve. And I’m also curious because you might be our “Hard Fork” unofficial Gen Z correspondent.

kalley huang

Yeah.

kevin roose

How old are you?

kalley huang

I’m 22.

kevin roose

22? Wonderful. So how did you notice that this was a trend?

kalley huang

It began on Instagram, where a whole lot of things for young people start. I saw a whole lot of people I posting photos that were obviously not taken with an iPhone, OK, weird people being quirky. After which I saw it being done by sort of the largest influencers — people like Kylie Jenner, who I believe set the tone for a whole lot of people. And, yeah, I used to be out at bars and I went to parties where people were bringing around digital cameras. And, on TikTok, the hashtag has a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of views, I believe.

kevin roose

And what’s the hashtag?

kalley huang

Literally just #DigitalCamera.

casey newton

Wait. Are people actually taking video with these items or they’re just — they’re posting bad photos on TikTok as videos?

kalley huang

Yeah.

casey newton

OK.

kalley huang

Individuals are on TikTok saying, here’s the way you get this latest aesthetic.

casey newton

Mm. OK.

kalley huang

And it’s a digital camera from after they were like, 4 years old.

kevin roose

And these usually are not — to be clear, these usually are not high-end SLR digital cameras. These are like, the Nikon Coolpix with one megapixel from 2003. Right?

kalley huang

Yeah. The Sony Cyber-Shot or like, the Nikon Coolpix — the worst quality, the higher. We’re not going for anything skilled here.

casey newton

It’s hard to think about two more 2000 sounding names than Cyber-Shot and Coolpix.

kevin roose

Yeah. As I used to be reading your story, I used to be considering, A, do I even have any digital cameras collecting dust in my closet somewhere that I could dust off and resell on eBay, which it appears like persons are doing. There was some data in your story about how the searches for words like Nikon Coolpix are way up yr over yr. And my second thought was like, how much of that is sincere. Right?

Because I believe every kid, every teen, every young person goes through a phase where they get into something that’s out of step with their generation. So, for instance, after I was in my late teens I assumed it might be cool to purchase a typewriter. And I began — I can’t consider I’m admitting this on the podcast.

There was a period of perhaps six months where I might bring out my typewriter, and sort a note to someone, and provides it to them.

casey newton

Wait. What sort of notes?

kevin roose

You understand, like would you wish to go to the dining hall and get some chicken fingers with me.

casey newton

And you’d deliver these in what, an embossed stationery?

kevin roose

Yeah. It was very annoying. I might just slip them beneath people’s doors. It’s not a period I’m particularly pleased with, but this lasts for six months. And eventually it’s sort of annoying because I even have to refill the ink. And there’s just one supplier that has the ink for this sort of typewriter.

And I noticed like, oh, yeah. Email was invented for a reason. Text messages were invented for a reason. That is way worse than simply doing the thing that everybody else does. So how much of that is sort of Zoomers being into the act of taking digital photos and really the aesthetic of it, or how much of it’s just sort of novelty value and sort of retro Y2K nostalgia?

kalley huang

I believe a whole lot of it’s the novelty. it feels refreshing to must take a camera out with you as an alternative of just having all the pieces in your phone. And I believe a whole lot of persons are encountering the that is annoying, I even have to place ink into my typewriter, in that some people don’t know the best way to photos onto their phone. When you have a look at a TikTok video featuring this, persons are like, how do I get it on my camera roll. Since it is kind of a foreign item.

casey newton

You would like a laptop. Right? You would like an SD card, and also you got to hope you might have a pc that has the fitting slot for an SD card on it.

kalley huang

Yeah.

casey newton

Yeah.

kalley huang

It’s really complicated. And a whole lot of today’s laptops don’t actually have a slot for an SD card. Right? So it’s kind of like, for some people, the complications that you might have to undergo to get to an objectively bad photo are sort of fun.

kevin roose

Right. And there’s kind of the vinyl comparison, where vinyl in a whole lot of ways is an even bigger hassle than another way you’ll be able to take heed to music, but that becomes a part of the charm. So the digital cameras mostly are much worse than the cameras that now we have today. But what else defines this aesthetic? And is there the rest concerning the aesthetic that you think that is appealing to younger people?

kalley huang

I believe a part of it’s that you might have loads less control over the photo that you simply’re producing. I believe a part of it’s also this call back to the Y2K era. Whenever you think of somebody like, I don’t know, Paris Hilton or whoever was popular back then, it makes you are feeling cool if you end up emulating them.

And I believe a part of it’s the performance of being casual, and searching silly or effortlessly pretty or whatever and being like, I don’t care that I’m posting these on Instagram after I’m blurry, I’m washed out, perhaps it’s a little bit unflattering. I believe that performance of authenticity is a giant appeal for some people.

casey newton

And I feel like we’ve seen this before on Instagram, where people will begin to embrace a glance that will not be perfectly airbrushed. There’s kind of been wave after wave of individuals rebelling against the kind of beauty standards on Instagram. It looks as if there’s just sort of a fundamental tension on that platform where persons are bored with having to decorate up a lot.

kalley huang

Yeah. I believe there’s a tension, particularly amongst young people, to come to a decision how curated you wish your online personality to be, the best way to portray the extent of curation that you simply are looking for. It’s an intentional alternative to post a photograph where you look bad and washed out. Paris Hilton was not picking which photos the paparazzi published, but Kylie Jenner is picking which washed out photo she’s posting.

kevin roose

Yeah. It’s interesting. A couple of weeks ago on this show we were talking about this app Lensa, which a whole lot of people were using to create these magic avatars, the app calls them. And on that app you upload a number of higher quality photos of yourself and also you come back looking like an astronaut, a wizard, a god. Right? And it’s sort the alternative of what we’re talking about here.

kalley huang

It kind of strikes me as also wanting a time when social media didn’t exist or wasn’t as pervasive because it is now. So I believe a part of it’s wanting to return to — I heard a whole lot of wanting to return to simpler things.

kevin roose

Yeah, this kind of neo-Luddite kind of feeling. There was an ideal story in “The Times” a number of weeks ago about these teens who just reject all technology. I believe they’re in Brooklyn, obviously. However it’s like, it does feel like there’s a kind of area of interest cohort of young people who find themselves just saying screw all of this. I’m going to read books, and go outside and take walks, and use my Coolpix to capture my moments with my friends.

casey newton

You understand, I kind of have the alternative perspective, where I believe all of that is only a approach to be on social media and look barely different, and feel such as you’ve adopted an aesthetic that’s only a bit ahead of the curve. So, to me, this appears like just as plugged into social media as the rest we speak about on this show.

kevin roose

That’s true, actually. Since it’s not like persons are nostalgic for the distribution of the early — nobody’s posting these on Flickr. Right? So that you’re taking your photo along with your old fashioned digital camera, but you’re posting it on TikTok and Instagram. And I don’t know if there’s a approach to do it on B-Real or not. However it will not be true that individuals are nostalgic for the actual ways in which we consumed information back then. It’s just the camera.

casey newton

You brought up B-Real. And, to me, B-Real is sort of a way of doing this too, where the entire idea is you’re going to take this photo at a random time every day. You’re probably not going to look that great. You’re probably not doing something that interesting. And so it might come across as more authentic.

kalley huang

I mean, people usually are not doing photo dumps in Facebook albums. Right?

casey newton

Thank God.

kalley huang

Right. Nobody’s drunkenly hung over posting 30 photos from an evening out on Facebook. So I believe a part of that is the presentation of authenticity. A part of it’s actually that is cool, interesting, perhaps you’re not taking a look at your phone as much since you don’t have to to take photos. But I believe the flip side of it’s that it continues to be logging on. And you’re making a alternative of how you are taking the photo, which photo you’re putting online, what sort of appearance you’re projecting.

casey newton

Here’s my prediction, that if this thing sticks around for a number of more weeks, I believe it just kind of becomes a filter on Snapchat and Instagram. And here’s your 2000 Coolpix filter, after which we will start leaving the cameras at home again.

kevin roose

But I believe there’s something. I can imagine it being very cool to be in a bar talking along with your friends after which just pull out this hunk of plastic from the early 2000s.

casey newton

I mean, has it really been so long since any of us have seen a camera that this may be an event if one got here out of a handbag? I just can’t consider that.

kevin roose

I don’t know. I mean, it appears like it’s kind of a thing to drag it out once you’re out along with your friends.

kalley huang

I believe it makes people excited. You’re so used to simply someone taking a photograph with — I mean, this makes me sound like someone who just got here out of the womb. But I believe it makes people excited to have an actual camera since it’s more of an event. Yeah. I believe you see the identical thing occur with film cameras.

Instagram actually has filters that you could use that make it appear like you took something on film. VSCO does. But there’s something concerning the actual act of taking out the camera I believe that’s appealing to people.

casey newton

Let’s see. What is going to we be nostalgic for in 20 years? What’s something that’s kind of painful that our grandchildren will scramble to do again?

kevin roose

Kalley, any thoughts?

kalley huang

I might not be surprised if it were something like an Apple Watch or something involving the way in which that we take heed to music. I believe a whole lot of this comes for the weird little gadgets that we use now. I don’t know. I mean, it’s hard to assume a futuristic way of communication. But I bet our iPhones will appear like bricks.

kevin roose

Yeah. There’ll just be some hipster teens like carrying around their iPhone 13 Pros, showing it off to all their friends.

casey newton

When you kind of — not only bring up the metaverse — but if you happen to consider in a world where we’re wearing some kind of virtual reality headsets or perhaps using virtual displays within those headsets, I could actually see laptops becoming sort of a nostalgia item, where persons are walking around with — or perhaps laptops will still be around, but people will kind of want them to be styled like laptops within the early 2020s or the 2010s.

kalley huang

Yeah. I mean, Kevin used typewriters. Possibly the people 20 years from now can be using laptops.

casey newton

I can’t wait until my grandson asks me for a 2013 MacBook Air.

kevin roose

Kalley, thanks.

kalley huang

Thanks.

casey newton

Thanks, Kalley.

And after we come back from the break, “M3GAN.”

All right, Kevin, it’s time to speak about my favorite movie going experience of the yr to date, “M3GAN.”

kevin roose

“M3GAN.”

casey newton

I might say the premise of “M3GAN” is that a young girl is given a sentient robot doll by her aunt, who’s the doll’s inventor. And the movie is about what happens when the kid begins to depend more heavily on the doll and the doll develops some ideas of its own. And you furthermore may saw “M3GAN” last night.

kevin roose

Yes.

casey newton

What was your feeling about this movie?

kevin roose

So I’m not a scary movie guy, like, in any respect. I’m an enormous baby. I don’t even really like cliffhanger kind of motion movies because they make me too anxious. And I’ve got enough of that in my life. So I used to be really resenting the proven fact that you were making me watch this movie to speak about it within the podcast. But I actually, I enjoyed it. I assumed it was fun. And I’ll say I’m a terrible person to look at a movie about anything tech-related with, because I just couldn’t stop eager about AI, and robotics, and which parts were realistic and which parts weren’t.

casey newton

Were you furiously taking notes in your typewriter about this?

kevin roose

No, but I used to be taking notes. So what did you think that?

casey newton

Well, so listen. When you show a gay man a life-sized doll who dances and kills people, you’ve got an ideal movie. Like, you’ll be able to stop writing the screenplay right there. I even have all that I would like. So I actually enjoyed the movie. It’s extremely fun. It’s funny. Yes, it’s a horror movie, nevertheless it’s more of a comedy than the rest.

kevin roose

Yeah. I used to be expecting to be very scared, and I used to be not. It’s campy enough that it makes the scary parts less scary.

casey newton

Right. But so why are we talking about it on “Hard Fork?” This will not be a movie review podcast, but this movie is about a whole lot of things that we’ve been talking about recently. So it’s about artificial intelligence, it’s about what happens when people begin counting on artificial intelligence over human beings, and it’s about fears around screen time, about parenting. There’s a surprising amount of the trendy condition, I assumed, on this movie. And I believe, if you happen to take heed to this podcast, you’re probably going to search out something to take into consideration in “M3GAN.”

kevin roose

Totally. I believe, as a comparatively latest parent, it gets to the center of this query of what amount of technology is sweet for youths and when does it start becoming an issue. I assumed it was a little bit heavy handed. There’s literally a scene where they’re talking about screen time and the way much the little girl should get. And it’s decided that M3GAN is type of technological interaction, and healthy. And that obviously gets complicated afterward.

But I’ll say I believe it really does illustrate just how anxious persons are when they offer their kids technology — not necessarily that it’s going to melt their brains, but that the technology itself is just going to tackle capabilities we didn’t understand it had.

casey newton

Yeah. So I believe, at their best, horror movies take some kind of fear within the culture they usually make it tangible by turning it right into a monster, after which having the monster kill people. And, in a possible way, screen time is the monster in “M3GAN.” Right? There may be a lady who may need otherwise been interacting along with her parents, who I believe we will say are tragically killed, like, the opening seconds of the movie.

She may very well be interacting along with her aunt, who has kind of taken her in and change into her guardian. But her aunt may be very busy at work, and her aunt never stops taking a look at her phone either. And so what does the little girl turn to? She turns to screen time, and that screen time later goes on a homicidal rampage.

kevin roose

Yeah. I assumed it was actually interesting. The opposite movie I’ve watched within the last couple of weeks is “Glass Onion,” the brand new “Knives Out” movie, wherein the tech world, I might say, will not be portrayed positively.

casey newton

No.

kevin roose

There’s kind of an evil Elon Musk figure at the middle of that plot. After which, in “M3GAN,” now we have this sort of — it’s probably not the central a part of the plot, nevertheless it is part of it where this doll, M3GAN, is definitely being kind of rushed into production by this, I assume, toy company but kind of tech company. The office looks very Silicon Valley.

It’s run by individuals who talk the way in which that tech people talk. And it’s all about speed, and how briskly we ship this thing, and we’re not going to program any safeguards into it because we’re just going to throw it out to the world. And who cares if it misfires sometimes? That’s the value of progress. And it’s just such a — we appear to be in such a moment straight away of cultural backlash to the way in which that tech corporations have been operating. CASEY NEWTON Oh, yeah. As a Silicon Valley satire, I discovered it surprisingly on point. There’s a really funny moment where the doll begins talking to the individuals who built her when she’s not speculated to be. And considered one of the engineers says, like, didn’t you encode like parental controls. After which the protagonist is like, well, I didn’t have any time.

The variety of times that we’ve heard that from tech executives through the years made that, I believe, a very satisfying moment to look at.

Totally. And one other query I used to be finding myself eager about — again, I’m a horrible person to go to a movie with — but I used to be eager about just how close or far we’re in real life from the technologies that we saw within the movie.

casey newton

Yeah. Well, so there was an article in “The Recent York Times” recently about scientists who try to just do this, who try to make robots that exhibit some signs of consciousness. And while I don’t think anything is sort of to the extent of M3GAN yet, particularly when it comes to interpersonal relations, it’s clear that we’re in a position to develop devices which might be no less than in some ways self-aware, have some concept of themselves. And we assume that’s only going to speed up quickly.

kevin roose

Totally. I used to be actually impressed. They should have had some AI experts consulting within the writing of the script for this movie. Because they did use phrases like probabilistic inference to explain how M3GAN learns, which is an actual thing that exists in AI.

casey newton

Yeah. And we would like to say, good job, “M3GAN” producers.

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]:

casey newton

You probably did your homework.

kevin roose

When you were the AI consultant for “M3GAN,” please come on “Hard Fork” and tell us about your process. I used to be considering, as I watched the movie, about Moravec’s paradox.

casey newton

No, I don’t know what this paradox is.

kevin roose

OK. Moravec’s paradox, it’s a kind of well-known principle in artificial intelligence and robotics. And it mainly says that things that humans find very easy are very hard for machines to do, and vice versa. Things which might be very hard for humans sometimes are very easy for machines to do.

A classic example could be like, predict which of those 10 loans is more than likely to default. That’s sort of hard for a human, pretty easy for a machine. However, something like move this cup from one a part of the table over to a different a part of the table — which any human toddler can do — is definitely incredibly hard for a robot.

So there have been all these moments throughout the movie where I used to be considering — so one thing that Megan does is like explain condensation, the concept of condensation, to the little girl. This will not be a spoiler, by the way in which. This will not be a significant plot point within the movie. But I used to be considering, oh, that’s easy. Siri can try this. ChatGPT can try this. That’s not hard in any respect.

After which you might have these scenes where M3GAN is dancing or moving in some lifelike way. And I’m considering like, oh, that’s going to take 20 more years and a number of other billion dollars more of R&D before robots can try this.

casey newton

Yeah. The fluidity of M3GAN’s movements is perhaps considered one of the less realistic things within the movie. But I do think that in terms of will we give you the option to make use of a ChatGPT-like tool in some kind of doll, and that doll has a voice that’s fairly human sounding and perhaps has some emotion in it — that doesn’t feel all that distant in any respect. There’s this sort of secondary toy within the movie that’s just like the bridge — the very first thing that the inventor builds before she invents M3GAN. And it’s just this little fuzzy, furry creature that talks. And it’s like, well, we’re mainly already there.

kevin roose

Yeah. And I also think it’s realistic to think that when these dolls with AI built into them exist, children will love them. Once I was growing up, I had this doll called Teddy Ruxpin — do you remember Teddy Ruxpin —

casey newton

After all I remember Teddy Ruxpin.

kevin roose

— who was only a Teddy bear. But you’d —

casey newton

By the way in which, I’ve heard Gen Z is taking Teddy Ruxpin out to bars simply to impress their friends. But go on.

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]: They’re selling for 1000’s of dollars apiece. So Teddy Ruxpin, for those of you who don’t know, was mainly a Teddy Bear that you prefer to put a cassette into, and it might read a story, and the mouth would move a little bit bit. And it was not advanced by any modern measure, but I freaking loved Teddy Ruxpin.

casey newton

People loved Teddy Ruxpin.

kevin roose

I used to be so attached. And when it might run out of batteries, I might cry. And that was almost 30 years ago. So I can only imagine what today’s kids are going to think when things like ChatGPT and these large language models are beginning to be built into the toys that they use every single day.

casey newton

Yeah. And it just becomes really powerful. It’s like, as powerful as ChatGPT is as a text interface, it’s like, you set it into the form of a doll and make it talk, it starts to feel like something very different. And all of this AI stuff we’ve been talking about a lot just becomes sort of infrastructure for a brand latest set of products that may kill us.

kevin roose

Totally. And in addition they could help us. Certainly one of the things that M3GAN actually does within the movie is to mainly befriend this little girl, hear her problems, mainly act as a therapist.

casey newton

Yeah.

kevin roose

And I believe that’s an issue that’s kind of on my mind is like, when this sort of thing actually exists, when it’s able to not only talking at kids but responding to them, will parents let it into their lives and to what extent.

casey newton

Yeah.

kevin roose

The parts of the movie that were the scariest to me from an AI perspective are when M3GAN starts displaying capabilities that she ever had before, when she began learning on her own. And I actually feel that. It is a very different example, but sometimes my Alexa devices in my house will — I’ll ask it an issue, after which it’ll answer. After which it’ll say, by the way in which, did I may show you how to store recipes?

casey newton

It’s so horrible. When you’re the Amazon people working on this, you might have to stop. Once I ask the weather, don’t tell me that it’s time to buy Father’s Day gifts. OK?

kevin roose

It’s really freaky. And that’s a reasonably mundane example, nevertheless it’s like, I don’t want you to get smarter.

casey newton

Exactly.

kevin roose

I purchased you since you do kitchen timers, and also you tell me the weather and whether I would like to bring an umbrella that day. And that’s what I would like you for. I don’t want you getting smarter. And I believe we’re moving into an era where all the pieces in our lives — from our cars to our kitchen appliances to our large language models — is just going to be convalescing on a regular basis within the background. And I believe that have goes to freak people out greater than the actual capabilities. It’s the advance within the background after we didn’t ask for it that’s going to be a whole lot of people’s first scary moment with these things.

casey newton

Yeah. Pretty soon you’re going to open up your refrigerator and it’s like, , I could teach you Spanish. And also you’re just going to unplug it. You’re going to say, I don’t want this in my life. We want to return to basics. Go get my Coolpix. I’m out of here.

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]:: I also thought it was interesting — without freely giving an excessive amount of of the plot, considered one of the kind of themes of “M3GAN”— and I believe this goes back not simply to other movies about sentient robots, but all the way in which back to “Frankenstein,” is this concept that you could instruct a robot to do one thing, like protect this little girl, and it’s going to take that instruction very seriously and can accomplish it in ways in which perhaps you didn’t intend or want. So in AI research this is known as the paperclip problem sometimes. Have you ever heard concerning the paperclip problem?

casey newton

I even have heard the paperclip problem, but tell our listeners.

kevin roose

So the paperclip problem is that this thought experiment that was proposed many years ago by Nick Bostrom, this philosopher. And it mainly says that you may construct an AI and tell it to make paperclips. That’s its only instruction. And if you happen to give it no further instructions, it’s going to try this.

And it’s going to try this — first it’s going to use the entire metal on the planet to create paperclips, so it’s going to take it from factories. It is going to destroy things. It is going to destroy cars to get the metal to make paperclips. After which it’s going to effectively kill all of the humans on the planet to maintain them from fighting their acquisition of metal to make paperclips. And so this robot that you simply just told to make paperclips finally ends up destroying the world. And there’s the same plot line in “M3GAN,” where this robots only instruction is to maintain this little girl. And it does so in increasingly violent and scary ways.

casey newton

Yeah. And, god, I don’t even know what I even have to say about that aside from the paperclip problem seems unsolved, man.

kevin roose

Well, I’m glad that this sort of thing is making its way into popular culture. Obviously, it’s ridiculous. Obviously, we’re a good distance away from killer humanoid robots. But I do think that is the moment to begin considering more broadly as a culture about AI. And I believe considered one of the explanations this is actually striking a nerve straight away is that there’s a lot anxiety about these tools that just appear to be appearing from these tech corporations out of nowhere with kind of very rudimentary safeguards in place. And it just appears like a moment where something is being let loose of a bag that could be hard to get back in.

casey newton

Yeah. Also, It was a few month ago that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was considering letting armed robots kill crime suspects. And this was not a sci-fi story. This was just up for debate at my local city council, was whether we must always use murder robots in police work. So some of these things may be very sci-fi. But I believe what’s most interesting about it’s that, in a whole lot of ways, it doesn’t really feel that sci-fi.

kevin roose

Right. No, a whole lot of these things is technically possible. It exists, just like the Boston Dynamics robot that you simply’ve seen videos of. There was this one scene particularly where someone starts pushing M3GAN with this big jousting stick almost, just attempting to knock her off balance and see how she recovers.

And that’s almost shot for shot from considered one of these Boston Dynamics videos, where the researchers are poking these robots with sticks, attempting to throw them off balance. Mainly, all you would like is for somebody to take the massive language models and jam them into the Boston Dynamics robots. And you then essentially have M3GAN.

kalley huang

Yeah. And, by the way in which, there’s a moment —

kevin roose

Please don’t try this, by the way in which, if you happen to’re listening. Very bad idea.

casey newton

The moment when M3GAN gets down on all fours and runs through the forest and appears like a Boston Dynamics dog, it’s like, considered one of the best transformations in cinema history, so far as I’m concerned.

kevin roose

Yeah. That was terrifying. Yeah. I feel like sci-fi movies used to happen 40, 50, 100 years into the long run. And now M3GAN just looks as if, yeah, that might occur next yr. Google or another company could come out and say, that is our latest — I mean, Tesla is literally constructing a humanoid robot. Right? That’s considered one of Elon Musk’s pet projects is he desires to make a lifelike Android robot that may talk, and listen, and do therapy, and move in realistic ways, and do all these items. He’s constructing M3GAN.

casey newton

Yeah. And he have to be stopped in any respect costs.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

“Hard Fork” is produced by Davis Land. We’re edited by Paula Szuchman. This episode was fact checked by Caitlin Love. Today’s show was engineered by Alyssa Moxley. Original music by Dan Powell, Elisheba Ittoop, and Marion Lozano. Special because of Hannah Ingber, Nell Gallogly, Kate LoPresti, Jeffrey Miranda, Daniel Bartel, and Dan Savage. He gave us a pleasant shout out this week in his Savage Love column. He tried to put in writing his column with ChatGBT. It’s a very fun read. Test it out. Thanks, Dan, we love you. You’ll be able to email us at HardFork@NYTimes.com. That’s all for this week. We’ll see you next time.

kevin roose

See you down the dusty trail.

casey newton

I need to give you something else, but I do know you told me to stop using it. And I attempted to think about an alternate one, and I couldn’t consider one. So —

kevin roose

I’m sorry I brought that stress to your life.

casey newton

It’s high-quality.

kevin roose

I really like your dusty trail, and I really like you.

casey newton

[LAUGHS]:

kevin roose

And I’m sorry I criticized you.

casey newton

I considered saying something like, that’s all for this week. The answer to today’s Wordle was sedan.

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]:

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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