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comment by veen
veen  ·  212 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Stephen Wolfram: What Is ChatGPT Doing … and Why Does It Work?

I've got badges for days. I had forgotten that tennis ball discussion.

    > What part of the light spectrum is associated with a fluorescent tennis ball?

    The fluorescent tennis ball is associated with the ultraviolet (UV) part of the light spectrum.

    > How would you describe that color?

    The color of the fluorescent tennis ball can be described as a bright, neon blue-green.

What I found most enlightening about Stephen Wolfram's piece, aside from the slightly better technical understanding I now have of what LLMs actually do, is his insight into the tradeoffs. The whole hype cycle around this all seems to suggest that the possiblities are endless, near infinite. Which of course can never be the truth; but because it's so human-like in its responses, we do the Sherry Turkle thing of filling in the gaps and assuming that yeah, this thing can do most basic stuff I throw at it, so therefore it will simply get better at everythingm right?

When in reality, the inherent tradeoffs are the invisible walls that most people don't (bother to) see or acknowledge. It's not just that LLMs are good at talking and bad at answers; they're bad at answers because they're good at talking .

kleinbl00  ·  211 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Stephen Wolfram is really great to hear from on this discussion because he's been tricking computers into doing useful things for 40 years while this entire enterprise is tricking computers into doing impressive things.

I did a pre-engineering curriculum that used Mathematica and Matlab. I transferred to an engineering curriculum that used Excel. I had about two months worth of "I have made a terrible mistake" followed by "this is a clown show" followed by "well fuck it's mostly just picking parts out of McMaster-Carr anyway" but I died a little inside.

Nobody I went to school with had the first clue how to work Matlab. They'd never heard of Mathematica. But oh shit - give 'em something tricky and they'd show you how to use Solver! Brute force that fucker, go get some coffee and use the sum of your college experience to that point to determine whether or not the answer was bullshit.

Most of them couldn't tell.

You can't type gibberish into Wolfram Alpha. You will ask it a properly formatted question or it will give you a bad answer. It'll give you plenty of tips as to how to ask good questions, and they really want to convert you to the Church of Getting It? But they won't hold your hand.

Microsoft, Google and OpenAI won't even show you the context.