There’s currently lot of anxious chat about ChatGPT-4 here in the Academy. Some professors worry that it’s about to take their jobs (a development that might lead to more interesting lectures). Others are breathlessly predicting the annihilation of humanity when AI spontaneously morphs into something malevolent and uncontrollable. Mostly, however, professors are worried that students will get Chat to do their homework, and some of them are really confused about what to do about this.
But these concerns tend to misunderstand how Chat works and take the “Intelligence” part of “Artificial Intelligence” too literally. The reassuring truth is that Chat isn’t really that smart. To clear things up, I asked ChatGPT-4 to give me a high-level explanation of how it works. It did a pretty good job, but it left some important stuff out, which I’ll fill in.