ChatGPT at work: Saint Coloman’s attributes and why OpenAI cannot correct itself

The following is a striking illustation of the extraordinary ablity of ChatGPT to carry on the conversation and correct itself, even when the topic is absolutely unfamiliar to 99,9% of people.

We know this is not full-fledged artificial intelligence yet, but the rule of duck works: in it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then we conclude that it is a duck. And when we talk to ChatGPT, a duck means a very smart, educated person with good manners and a sense for humor.

User: Do you know who saint Coloman was?

ChatGPT: Yes, I am familiar with Saint Coloman. He was an Irish pilgrim and missionary who lived in the 10th century. Coloman is known for his devotion to spreading Christianity, particularly in Central Europe. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and is considered the patron saint of Austria and Hungary. Coloman is often depicted as a pilgrim holding a staff and a palm branch, symbolizing his travels and martyrdom. He is celebrated on October 13th.

User: Not sure about the palm branch 😉

ChatGPT: I apologize for the confusion. You are correct; Saint Coloman is typically depicted holding a pilgrim’s staff, not a palm branch. Thank you for pointing out the error.

User: No, staff is okay. But the second attribute is not a palm branch.

ChatGPT: Apologies once again for the confusion. I appreciate your patience. While Saint Coloman is depicted with a staff as a pilgrim, the second attribute associated with him is usually a hangman’s rope or a hangman’s knot. This representation symbolizes his martyrdom, as he was executed by hanging. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, and I apologize for any incorrect information in my previous response.

User: Cool, how did you manage to correct the initial mistake?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I have been trained on a vast amount of information and data. When you pointed out the mistake in my initial response, I reviewed my training data and knowledge to ensure accuracy. In this case, I corrected the error regarding the second attribute associated with Saint Coloman based on the information available to me. It is essential to continuously learn and adapt, and I strive to improve the accuracy of my responses whenever possible.

User: So if next time someone asks you about St Coloman, your answer will be correct from the beginning?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don’t have a memory of past interactions or conversations. Each interaction is treated as a separate and independent instance. If someone asks about Saint Coloman in the future, I will generate a response based on my training and knowledge available up until September 2021. While I strive to provide accurate and helpful information, there is still a possibility of errors or omissions. It’s always a good idea to verify information from reliable sources for complete accuracy.

User: Got it, thanks! So you’re sort of Terminator who should not keep anything from the mission)

ChatGPT: Haha, not quite! While I don’t retain memory of past conversations, it’s not because of a mission-related directive like the Terminator. The design of AI language models like me is focused on privacy and data security. For each user interaction, I provide responses based on the input provided and the knowledge I’ve been trained on. This approach ensures user privacy and prevents the accumulation of personal data. It’s all about respecting privacy and maintaining confidentiality.

User: oh, now I think I get it. If you were accumulating the informatioon you get from users, the resulting data could be sort of spoiled, as it’s hard to discern where is the boundary between private and public info, as well as between facts and interpretations.

ChatGPT: Exactly! By not retaining personal data or individual user interactions, it helps to maintain privacy and ensures that the information provided is based on the general knowledge available during training. As you mentioned, distinguishing between private and public information or interpreting the intent behind a user’s request can be challenging. By not storing personal data, those concerns are mitigated, and users can feel more confident in interacting with AI systems like me.

P.S. Why St Coloman?

As the monks of Melk Abbey where St Coloman’s relics are held said,

“In our times, where listening to each other has become increasingly difficult, he can be seen as a contemporary saint, as he, stranger in a strange land, was not understood. Whoever is different, looks or speaks differently, makes himself suspicious, causes fear, and can easily become the victim of prejudice.”


So let’s not forget that the rule of duck works both ways.

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