ChatGPT and the Generation of Digitally Born “Knowledge”: How Does a Generative AI Language Model Interpret Cultural Heritage Values?
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The public release of ChatGPT, a generative artificial intelligence language model, caused wide-spread public interest in its abilities but also concern about the implications of the application on academia, depending on whether it was deemed benevolent (e.g., supporting analysis and simplification of tasks)
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The public release of ChatGPT, a generative artificial intelligence language model, caused wide-spread public interest in its abilities but also concern about the implications of the application on academia, depending on whether it was deemed benevolent (e.g., supporting analysis and simplification of tasks) or malevolent (e.g., assignment writing and academic misconduct). While ChatGPT has been shown to provide answers of sufficient quality to pass some university exams, its capacity to write essays that require an exploration of value concepts is unknown. This paper presents the results of a study where ChatGPT-4 (released May 2023) was tasked with writing a 1500-word essay to discuss the nature of values used in the assessment of cultural heritage significance. Based on an analysis of 36 iterations, ChatGPT wrote essays of limited length with about 50% of the stipulated word count being primarily descriptive and without any depth or complexity. The concepts, which are often flawed and suffer from inverted logic, are presented in an arbitrary sequence with limited coherence and without any defined line of argument. Given that it is a generative language model, ChatGPT often splits concepts and uses one or more words to develop tangential arguments. While ChatGPT provides references as tasked, many are fictitious, albeit with plausible authors and titles. At present, ChatGPT has the ability to critique its own work but seems unable to incorporate that critique in a meaningful way to improve a previous draft. Setting aside conceptual flaws such as inverted logic, several of the essays could possibly pass as a junior high school assignment but fall short of what would be expected in senior school, let alone at a college or university level.