Not only would ChatGPT get worse over time, it could also make us less intelligent. A study from Stanford University evaluated the performance of ChatGPT in March 2023 and June 2023 and found that “the behavior of the ‘same’ LLM service can change significantly in a relatively short time”. Their recommendation was continuous monitoring of the quality of the LLM (large language model).
But what about humans using ChatGPT? If LLMs get worse, what happens to our focus, attention, memory, and common sense? Is the real question how the humans using the tools perform over the same period and who constantly monitors our quality? In some ways, ChatGPT could make us smarter. In another way, we could have degraded ourselves too. Here are 6 reasons why that might be the case.
How ChatGPT Could Make Us Less Smart
1. Reliance on Instant Responses
As soon as you open ChatGPT, Claude or your favorite LLM, you can enter any prompt and get a response. With instant answers now available, why would you spend energy thinking? Of course, we’ve always had Google. But sometimes finding the right answer using Google takes more effort. Google gives a list of web pages to read and scrutinize. But with ChatGPT, you get an answer, and that’s it. It has never been so fast to get information, which could cost us dearly.
Overdependence is a danger, as is the decline of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We can just skip the research and analysis process on our own. So what is the answer? Take more time to think. Use ChatGPT to confirm what you have already concluded, not to solve it for you. Use the enhanced capacity to produce more, not to remove the need to think.
2. Reduced memory retention
What is this actress’s name? The one who was in that movie, married to that guy, friends with that other actress? Recalling information used to implicate the frowning and humming cogs in our brains. Several people intervened to give clues and find the answer together. Now there is no need to remember anything anymore. We will get an answer faster than googling it. Not only do LLMs provide answers, but we can also upload our own PDFs. Tools exist to ask questions about our own content. We don’t even need to remember what we wrote.
Requiring less information on tap could lead to less information being stored in the brain. In an effort to become more efficient, memory cells shrink, memory retention disappears, and cognitive abilities slowly decline. Test yourself without it and see how you perform.
3. Erosion of writing and communication skills
If an entrepreneur can learn how to effectively use ChatGPT and create their website homepage copy, create free resources, or write their emails, where is the incentive to improve their written communication? Getting used to automated assistance can make us less able to effectively express our thoughts and ideas solo.
The valuable skill no longer writes well, the valuable skill prompts well. Prompt engineers earn $300,000 in salaries. The more you can ask for, the better an LLM can create the right outcome. Whether that makes us less intelligent or not is anyone’s guess. It’s just a different use of our gray matter. The art of written communication is now mastered in a new way.
4. Limited understanding of complex topics
You can use ChatGPT to optimize your learning, but how deep is the knowledge you will acquire? While he’s brilliant at simplifying complex information, generating fun mnemonics, and creating a structured study schedule, his light-hearted approach to education could mean your understanding of complex subjects falls well short of your true abilities. Rather than attending conferences and poring over textbooks, we demand the best level of information; just enough to get by.
Writing their findings in presentations, presentations and lectures may impress an audience at first, but when they ask further questions, you will be discovered immediately. Relying solely on ChatGPT to learn can cost extensive knowledge and train you to not grasp complex topics, after which only basic brain functions ensue.
5. Spreading false information
One of the dangers of constantly querying ChatGPT is that the answers aren’t always accurate. Language models generate pattern-based responses in the data they were trained on. Relying on them might make you believe things that just aren’t true. Instead of digging deeper to find the real story, we take what we read at face value and assume it’s true. Bias and misinformation spread and rumors spiral out of control.
Not questioning further or fact-checking is not a good idea. If someone on your team brought you information, you would expect them to refer to their sources. If a friend told you an exaggerated story, you would ask to see proof or verification. Do the same with ChatGPT instead of blindly following its stories.
6. Reduced social interactions
A business owner replacing half his team with AI tools eliminated half of his social interactions every work week. Once these tools become more proficient, it could be reduced even further. Not only can you replace team members with technology, but you can also replace very human roles with ChatGPT, including training it to act as a personal AI coach.
But humans need other humans. We know that isolation, over time, costs social skills and emotional intelligence, making us less able to understand and connect with others. Could this make us less intelligent? Conversation and companionship via ChatGPT, which means less face-to-face social interaction and a reduced ability to function with other people. This is a risk worth thinking about avoiding.
Could ChatGPT make us less intelligent? Dependence on instant answers, reduced memory retention, erosion of writing and communication skills, less ability to grasp complex topics, belief and dissemination of misinformation, and reduced fluency in social interactions. Be aware of the pitfalls of enjoying all the benefits without these very real costs.