Paleonet: Mucking about with ChatGPT

Jere H. Lipps jlipps at
Mon Oct 9 21:32:55 UTC 2023

That would have been 3.5.  I used it to write an abstract--totally a waste
of time, and papers were really hopeless.  But my colleagues at Berkeley
have paid the $20 for the 4.0 and are having deeper concerns about students
using it in their work.  Science Magazine among others have forbidden AI
papers and illustrations.  Illustrations by AI that produce original
material and not just copied are fine I think because AI functions then
like our illustrators have in the past.


*Jere H. Lipps*
*Museum of Paleontology*
*University of California, Berkeley*
*jlipps at <jlipps at>*

On Mon, Oct 9, 2023 at 3:31 AM John Laurie <john.r.laurie at> wrote:

> Jere,
> I cannot remember what version it was, but it was a freebie, and given
> that it was in April, it was quite early in the game. I am working on a
> report for the Wiso Basin and I wanted to try to get an introduction to it,
> which could act as a starting structure for me to flesh out with real data.
> John
> On Mon, 9 Oct 2023 at 20:57, Jere LIPPS <jlipps at> wrote:
>> Was it ChatGPT 4.0 or the earlier 3.5 that you used?   I understand the
>> paid 4.0 is much better but at $20/month may not be worth the annual cost
>> of $240.  3.5 is not very good at writing and lots of errors appear in it
>> by finding associations in docs that are restated as answers .  For
>> example, in a test, it erroneously wrote that I got my BA at Berkeley while
>> the association was my faculty position where I advised BA students.  But
>> it’s pretty good at doing helpful outlines of papers or books, like “write
>> an outline for a book (or paper) on Ice Age mammals”.  I think it’s going
>> to get a lot better but like so many things in our world, it will have both
>> good and bad aspects.  We need to be careful and figure out how to control
>> it.  Can it ever be an author on a paper.  Yes, I’m sure, and as a seeker
>> of scientific information I would not care much, but as an author myself or
>> one in need of rewards for writing papers, I would have problems with it.
>> Should be real interesting as more uses come up for it.  It’s already
>> doing a lot, like in medicine, manufacturing, recycling, and others.
>> Control it,
>> Jere
>> Jere Lipps
>> jlipps at
>> On Oct 8, 2023, at 10:37, N. MacLeod <n.macleod9 at> wrote:
>> I dunno. In a lot of the things I read these days the style and the
>> substance are pretty lousy. If Chat GPT and its ilk can get halfway there
>> it's still doing better than a lot of real people.
>> But I agree, there is much misunderstanding regarding what Large Language
>> Models and associated software like ChatGPT were developed to do. Still,
>> it's early days. Who knows what this technology will develop into in 10, 20
>> or 50 years? The interesting thing is that very few expected us to have
>> electronic systems that perform as well as ChatGPT even 5 years ago.
>> Nevertheless, ChatGPT puts me in mind of the old quip about the
>> bicycle-riding bear. The bear's act was impressive not because it rode the
>> bicycle well, but because it was able to ride it at all. It's long been
>> established that bears can be trained to ride bicycles and that's an
>> accomplishment of note. But I have yet to see a bear who can ride one well
>> and I don't expect to see such a bear anytime soon.
>> Norm MacLeod
>> Thomas Richard Holtz <tholtz at>
>> 8 October 2023 at 14:38
>> Many people have a HUGE misunderstanding of what ChatGPT is. It is not a
>> replacement for a Google (or similar) search engines.
>> It is a human language emulator, and does that pretty well. I can
>> duplicate many different styles of human writing (conversation, essay,
>> poetry, recipes, scientific papers, etc.) quite accurately. Note that it is
>> the STYLE of these things, not the substance! It just makes up "facts" to
>> populate the content of these texts that are in the style of (and often
>> created by the combination of real elements of) comparable components of
>> the thing it is trying to emulate. So it will create out of whole cloth
>> (well, out of "0"s and "1"s)  references and bibliographic information,
>> 'data', and so on. Accuracy is not the function; style is.
>> Furthermore, its corpus of material to draw upon is not up-to-date. I'm
>> not sure about the current version, but the one available earlier this year
>> only used a database up to 2020 upon which to create its simulations.
>> I was astonished over the last year by people thinking that some of its
>> features were new, or significant. I heard reporters saying "You can ask it
>> to write you a recipe" or "you can look up medical symptoms to figure out
>> your likely condition." Had these people never Googled a recipe or medical
>> symptoms (note: not advocating "Dr. Google" here...) before??
>> --
>> Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
>> Email: tholtz at         Phone: 301-405-4084
>> Principal Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
>> Office: Geology 4106, 8000 Regents Dr., College Park MD 20742
>> Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
>> Phone: 301-405-6965
>> Fax: 301-314-9661
>> Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
>> Office: Centreville 1216, 4243 Valley Dr., College Park MD 20742
>> Fax: 301-314-9843
>> Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
>>                         Department of Geology
>>                         Building 237, Room 1117
>>                         8000 Regents Drive
>>                         University of Maryland
>>                         College Park, MD 20742-4211 USA
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