Opinion – José Manuel Diogo: ChatGPT is the biggest revolution of all because it only asks for a change in behavior

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What is the longest road in the world?

Until recently, to find out the answer, we would have to use that ancient method, created in the 15th century by a certain grandfather Gutenberg, which consisted of looking for the answer in a book. And even if the question arose in the 20th century, even so, most likely the answer would “cost” us a visit to a library, as it would be hidden in one of those strange objects called “books”.

Later, with the spread of computers and the internet, things became simpler. Search engines appeared, which made consulting the book go from something “obligatory” to something rare, leaving this answer (and many others) just a click away.

This “novelty” shaped our way of thinking so intensely that, during the last three decades, whenever a doubt arose on any subject, it would be enough to put it to a more modern gentleman and known to all: Uncle Google. It worked like this: after asking the question, uncle, faithful companion of all ignorance, presented us with countless possibilities for an answer.

Fonts and more fonts. Thousands in a second. Organized by cousin Algorithm, fifth or sixth degree relative, who threw us into a wonderful babel of possibilities —”about 9.93 million results in 0.66 seconds”, to be exact.

Then it hurt. Nearly 10 million results for the same answer? We save the trip to the library, but we’re going to spend all that time, sometimes more, looking for the answer on the computer screen, trying to separate “the wheat from the chaff”, which is another way of saying “the truth from the lie”.

But suddenly a younger sister appears who comes to revolutionize the world and make the rest of the family obsolete. The ChatGPT girl (the most famous among other artificial intelligence tools) radically changes the way we access any information. The world will never be the same again.

Why? Easy to understand. Enter chat.openai.com/chat and ask: “What is the longest road in the world?”. I asked. “The longest road in the world is the Pan-American Highway, a network that covers South America and Central America. The road starts in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina, covering approximately 30,000 km. It is a crucial transport route to many Latin American countries, connecting important cities and promoting trade and tourism in the region.

The Pan-American Highway is known for its geographical diversity and landscape, passing through mountains, forests, deserts and beaches. Although the road is almost complete, there is a ‘gap’ of about 160 km in the Darién jungle in Colombia and Panama, where there is no road connection.”

The previous two paragraphs were not written by me. Not by anyone human. It was she —miss ChatCPT— who wrote them. Unbelievable? Same. Continuing my conversation with Chat, asking him questions, playing charm, being more daring in his way of thinking, I soon understood that it is not just “another” way of accessing information.

ChatGPT is the biggest revolution ever. Included in the word always: the invention of the wheel, movable characters, electricity, the steam engine, the transistor and the internet. The disruption it causes—damage versus opportunity—is greater than ever.

The biggest ever because its adoption does not imply any change in technological norms or even the purchase of any equipment. It just asks for a simple change in behavior.

Talk in many languages. All the ones I know how to handle. English, French, Spanish, Italian. And he treats Portuguese as if he had studied it simultaneously at the Jaime Cortesão chair at USP and at the Institute of Brazilian Studies at the University of Coimbra.

Never has equality been so great, and the danger so imminent.

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