Chat-GPT, the latest interface/application for GPT-3, has educators worried, because it writes short essays that look at least plausible. It will happily produce text that looks like (various brands of) actual social science, showing us and the world how redundant we are. Ask it to write a few paras for a “grievance studies” journal, or for something in the style of Ronald Inglehart, and you will see what I mean.
And, while still producing stuff that reads well and looks plausible, it will happily invent sources in non-existent journals (whose names sound plausible, too). Some clever people have called it “mansplaining as a service”, while some seriously clever people are thinking about useful applications in science.
ChatGPT is search in that it only regurgitates–with some analysis/synthesis–what's already on the Web. Properly harnessed, these two technologies (conventional search which links to sources + LLM-style output) COULD turn into a great library-like assistant, but not an oracle. 1/2— Joanna J Bryson (@j2bryson) January 14, 2023
Meanwhile, people of a more puerile disposition are asking different questions. What if Rap had been invented in the 19th century? What if Marx and Weber had been actual contemporaries (Marx died when Weber was just 19)? What if Karl and Max had been just two dudes (very white, very old and by now also very dead), battling it out for supremacy in sociology?
Half a year ago, the answer would probably have been “we shall never know”. But thanks to the million dollar machinery behind GPT and the zillions of unpaid hours that went into producing all that content on the Internet on which it was trained, we can simply ask the bot. And so it begins:
Write a short rap battle involving Karl Marx dissing Max Weber
Karl Marx: I'm the father of communism, the one they call the mastermind While you're stuck in your bureaucracies, I'm a revolutionary kind I've got the theory of surplus value, you can't deny it's true While you're stuck in your Protestant work ethic, I'm makin' moves Max Weber: I may not have your revolutionary flair, but I've got my own mind I've got the theory of rationalization, it's one of a kind You may talk about the proletariat, but I see the bigger picture I'm all about social class and status, I'm a true sociological mixture Karl Marx: You may have your theories, but they're all just empty words I've got the substance, the evidence, the facts to back up what I've heard I'm the original socialist, the one who started it all While you're just a copycat, tryin' to stand tall Max Weber: You may think you're better than me, but you're just full of hot air I've got the brains, the knowledge, the wisdom to take you down, I swear I may not be a revolutionary, but I'm a thinker and a doer While you're stuck in your ideology, I'm out here making progress, dude
I should think that Weber won that one. Give it another go?
Karl Marx: Hey Max Weber, you think you're so smart But your theories are weak, they just fall apart You talk about capitalism like it's divine But I'll show you the truth, that it's just a crime Max Weber: Karl, you're just a socialist, full of lies Your theories are outdated, they don't apply Capitalism's here to stay, it's what we need Your ideas of class struggle will never succeed Karl Marx: But Max, you're missing the point, you can't see That capitalism's a system built on inequality It exploits the workers, leaves them in the dirt While the bourgeoisie reap the profits, it's just not fair Max Weber: Karl, you're living in the past, your ideas are old Capitalism has evolved, it's not so cold It's a system of opportunity, it's what drives progress Your socialism will never work, it's just a mess Karl Marx: But Max, you're blinded by the system's charms You don't see the suffering, the social harm Capitalism will never be the answer, it's clear to me It's time for a change, for equality and liberty.
Hard to disagree with that last verse, so a draw, all in all. And this, boys and girls, is what we need all this computing power for.