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Creating your own guidebook with AI

This morning I read an article about how a philosophy professor in Michigan who had a paper submitted that was, in his words, “the best paper in the class.” The paper discussed burqa bans with "clean paragraphs, fitting examples and rigorous arguments." He questioned the student about his sources, and the student confessed that he had used an AI chatbot named GPTChat to write the paper. The article then went on to discuss the restructuring of courses that some colleges are doing and the preventive measures they are taking to avoid this happening in the future. (Sorry, I can't gift the article - I'm out of my allotted links).

While I was reading it, I got curious so I signed up (it's still in beta form and free but I believe they are planning to start charging soon) for the chatbot and asked it some questions. I'm heading to Naples, FL in about 10 days so I asked it for some ideas of things to do there. Within a few seconds, it shot back a list of about 10 suggestions in short, concise sentences of things, such as "Take a walk or bike ride on the Gordon River Greenway: This 10-mile trail offers scenic views of the Gordon River, mangroves, and wetlands."

Next I asked it to give me info about traveling to Glasgow. It spit this out within seconds:

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the fourth largest in the United Kingdom. It is located in the west of Scotland and is known for its Victorian and Edwardian architecture, as well as its cultural scene, which includes museums, art galleries, and live music venues. To get to Glasgow, you can fly into Glasgow Airport, which is located about 8 miles west of the city center and has flights to destinations throughout the UK and Europe.

Alternatively, you can take a train to Glasgow's main train station, Glasgow Central, which is located in the city center and has regular services to destinations throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK. Once in Glasgow, you can get around using the city's extensive bus and subway system, or by walking and cycling. The city is also served by a number of taxi and ride-sharing services.

Some popular tourist attractions in Glasgow include the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Glasgow Cathedral, and the Riverside Museum, which is dedicated to the city's industrial and transport history. The Glasgow Necropolis is also a popular spot, which is a Victorian cemetery with many notable tombs and monuments.

The city is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with many bars, clubs, and music venues to choose from. The West End and Merchant City areas are particularly popular for their nightlife scene. Keep in mind that Glasgow has a temperate oceanic climate and rain is quite common, so bring an umbrella or raincoat and comfortable shoes for walking.

Yes, this is pretty general information but it is well-written and it was nice not to have to wade through Google searches, affiliate links and pop up ads to get to this information. And when I get more specific in my questions, it gave me more specific information. For
example, asking about good hotels with reasonable prices in Glasgow for a solo traveler gave me 7-8 options, with info on their comfort, location to the center, price, whether breakfast was included, restaurants on site, and if wifi was available. I'm sure I could get directions to places, info on bike rentals and so on.

I asked about Stornoway on Harris and Lewis in Scotland and it gave me a number of sights to see there, and even some ideas for day trips. At any rate, I could easily see making a small guidebook using AI responses that are tailored to my specific destinations. I'm going to try it for this Naples trip and see what happens. I think I'll keep it digital for that trip but for Scotland, I will make my own physical book. 😊

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27362 posts

That's really interesting, Mardee. I agree that the material is nicely written. I think it might be best for travelers with general interests--though I suppose asking about specific topics might could overcome that limitation. I note that the Glasgow response said nothing about the Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture, which I would hope to see included.

I tested it by asking which European cities had a lot of Art Nouveau architecture. It responded with a list of ten cities (Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, Glasgow, Riga, Vienna, Nancy, Helsinki, Moscow and Prague). I asked about specific areas in Helsinki, Riga, Sundsvall (Sweden) and Alesund (Norway), and it responded quickly. Then I tried asking what types of architecture can be found in Goerlitz (Germany). Perhaps the problem was that I didn't spell the city name as a German would (Görlitz), but it took quite a while to come with a list of six types of architecture found in that city and examples of each.

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7574 posts

That’s interesting, and sounds like reasonable suggestions, presented in a clear format.

I do have to wonder, can a computer program offer dining suggestions, based on quality of food, visual presentation of the offerings, friendliness or helpfulness of the serving staff? And which dessert to choose, based on personal experience? Maybe a place with small bytes?

Posted by
6841 posts

Once the bots find a way to get drunk in pubs, I'll officially have no role left.

Nick, ha ha, but no worries! There will always be room for real drunks in our lives. 🤣

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1252 posts

I was not able to read the NYT article (not a subscriber).

I am curious to see if I asked the same Glasgow question would the AI Bot give me the same or similar word-for-word essay as above. If so, students should be warned that it could be easy for a prof to check for plagerism. More than a few have been caught copying from Wikipedia.

I tried to log into ChatGBT and it gave this Shakespearean reply:

"Ah, dear user of ChatGPT, thou art not alone in thy desire to engage with our esteemed AI chatbot. Many have flocked to our website in this hour, and we do our utmost to accommodate each and every one. Yet, alas, our resources are not without limit and we must ask for thy patience and forbearance. In time, we shall be able to provide thee with access to ChatGPT. Until then, we beg thee to return at a future juncture, when we may better serve thy needs. Until then, we bid thee adieu and good fortune."

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Asking a brief question about sightseeing in Glasgow went like this:

Q: What are some key tourist sights in Glasgow?

A: Some key tourist sights in Glasgow include the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Glasgow Cathedral, the Riverside Museum, the Glasgow School of Art, and the Glasgow Necropolis. Additionally, the Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian cemetery located on a hilltop east of Glasgow Cathedral. It is the final resting place of many of Glasgow's most prominent citizens and offers a great view over the city.

So similar to one paragraph in Mardee's response, but mine contains a howler: The Glasgow School of Art has burned down twice recently, in 2014 and again in 2018. There's really nothing to see at this point except the aftermath of two disasters:

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6841 posts

acraven, that's interesting although I had to laugh at the bot's comment about the Glasgow School of Art. I guess we do tend to make sights out of disasters. :)

funpig, I've gotten 2 instances today where I couldn't log in because of the high volume (probably from the NYT article).

Posted by
2532 posts

The data set that the public version of GPTChat uses is only through the beginning of 2020, so more recent info will not be referenced, and the system is designed to please its users, not to pass a fact-checker, so it sometimes makes things up that look like facts but are not, and it makes attributions to sources that did not actually say what it says they said.

Let me pose an analogy -- for electronic music fans of a certain age, recall that samplers and synthesizers used to be very different animals, because processing was slow and memory was expensive. As machines sped up and memory became cheap, a company like Yamaha could actually sample every possible key/note combination of a concert grand piano and feed it to a synthesizer that is fast enough to produce an ~actual~ output rather than a processed output -- well, think of chat programs like that: they are samplers with a very large data set and very fast processor, but that in no way means that they are intelligent thinkers.

My first take on using one for travel guidance would be similar to my negative reaction to letting Apple feed me the news it wants to feed me through its News app -- no thank you.

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2532 posts

The system is learning from the training questions that I am guessing some people here are feeding it -- check out how it has improved in a few hours:
I asked it how someone who has trouble walking would do on vacation in Glasgow, and got this generation:

If you have trouble walking, there are still many things you can do to enjoy your vacation in Glasgow. Here are a few suggestions:

Visit museums and art galleries: Glasgow is home to many world-class museums and art galleries, such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Museum, and the Gallery of Modern Art, which are all wheelchair accessible and offer a great way to explore the city's culture and history.
Take a river cruise: The River Clyde offers a variety of boat tours that provide a relaxing and scenic way to see the city without having to walk too much.
Enjoy the city's parks and gardens: Glasgow has many beautiful parks and gardens, such as the Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow Green and the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, which are wheelchair accessible and provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Visit the Glasgow Necropolis: This Victorian cemetery offers a peaceful and historic way to explore the city while avoiding much walking.
Visit the Glasgow Cathedral: This historic building is wheelchair accessible and offers a glimpse into the city's rich history and architecture.
Take a bus or train tour: Glasgow offers several bus and train tours that provide a great way to see the city without having to walk too much.
It's always recommended to check the accessibility of the places you want to visit, and plan your route accordingly.

It's important to note that if you need any special assistance, Glasgow is well-equipped to accommodate visitors with disabilities, and many of the city's popular tourist attractions, public transportation and accommodations offer wheelchair accessibility and other accessibility features.

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Q: What would Greta Thunberg want to do on vacation in Glasgow?

A: As a language model, I don't have personal experience of being Greta Thunberg, so I can't predict what she would want to do on vacation in Glasgow. However, I can tell you that Greta Thunberg is a young climate activist who is known for her strong advocacy for addressing climate change and reducing carbon emissions. Based on her activism, it's likely that she would want to explore Glasgow's efforts to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. This could include visiting renewable energy sites, learning about the city's recycling and waste management programs, or visiting organizations that are working to promote sustainable development. She might also want to visit the Glasgow School of Art and learn about the university's focus on sustainability, or visit the Riverside Museum and learn about the city's industrial history and how it relates to the current climate change challenges. Additionally, she may also want to take part in some environmental activism or attend any events or meetups related to the climate change.

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Q: How could I learn to appreciate whisky while on vacation in Glasgow?

A: If you're interested in learning to appreciate whisky while on vacation in Glasgow, there are a few things you can do:

Take a distillery tour: Many of Scotland's famous whisky distilleries are located near Glasgow, such as the Auchentoshan Distillery, Glengoyne Distillery, and the Clydeside Distillery. Taking a tour of a distillery will give you a better understanding of the whisky-making process and the different types of whisky that are produced.
Attend a whisky tasting: Many whisky shops and bars in Glasgow offer tastings, where you can sample a variety of whiskies and learn about the differences in flavor, aroma, and color.
Visit a whisky festival: Glasgow hosts several whisky festivals throughout the year, such as the Whisky Festival Glasgow, where you can sample a wide variety of whiskies from different distilleries and learn from experts in the field.
Visit a whisky school: Some whisky shops and bars in Glasgow offer classes and seminars on whisky appreciation, where you can learn about the history, culture, and tasting notes of different whiskies.
Read about whisky: If you want to deepen your understanding of whisky, you can read books, brochures and visit websites that provide information about the history, production, and culture of whisky.
Join a guided whisky tour: Glasgow and the surrounding areas offer several guided tours that take you to visit distilleries, and allow you to sample different types of whiskies while learning about their history and production process.

Remember that the key to appreciating whisky is to take your time and savor the flavors, and to be open-minded and willing to try different types of whiskies.

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Q: If I'm interested in European colonial history, what should I do on vacation in Glasgow?

A: If you're interested in European colonial history, there are a few things you can do while on vacation in Glasgow:

Visit the Riverside Museum: This museum features exhibits on the city's colonial past, including its role in the transatlantic slave trade and its connections to the British Empire.
Visit the Glasgow Cathedral: This historic building offers a glimpse into the city's medieval history and its connections to the European colonial powers.
Take a walking tour of Glasgow's Merchant City: This area of the city was once a hub of trade and commerce, and it offers a glimpse into the city's past as a center of colonial trade and commerce.
Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: The museum has many colonial-era artworks and artifacts on display, including a significant collection of items from Africa and Asia.
Visit the Glasgow University: The University has a strong focus on colonial history and has a rich collection of documents, books, and artifacts that can provide an insight on the subject.
Visit the Glasgow Necropolis: This Victorian cemetery offers a glimpse into the city's colonial past, with many grave markers and monuments of colonial merchants and traders.
Take a day trip to Edinburgh: Glasgow's neighbor city has a rich colonial history, and a visit to the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse can provide a more in-depth understanding of the colonial history.

Remember that Glasgow has a rich history as a center of colonial trade and commerce, and many of its historic sites and landmarks offer a glimpse into the city's colonial past.

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Q: If I like sweets, what should I do on vacation in Glasgow?

A: If you like sweets, there are a few things you can do to indulge your sweet tooth while on vacation in Glasgow:

Visit the Glasgow Chocolate Cafe: This cafe offers a wide variety of chocolate-based desserts and drinks, including hot chocolate, chocolate truffles, and chocolate fondue.
Visit the A.G. Barr factory: The factory of Irn-Bru, a famous Scottish soft drink, offers tours, where you can learn about the history of the company and taste the drink.
Visit the The Glasgow School of Art: The school has a café that serves homemade cakes and desserts, which are made by the students.
Visit the Kelvingrove Café: This café offers a variety of classic Scottish desserts, such as shortbread, tablet, and cranachan.
Visit the Glasgow's Style Mile: The city's shopping district offers a range of sweet shops, patisseries and chocolatiers, where you can find a wide variety of sweet treats to sample.
Visit the Glasgow's West End: The West End of Glasgow offers a range of unique and independent sweet shops, patisseries and chocolatiers where you can find sweet treats that you may not find elsewhere.
Visit the Glasgow's Traditional Markets: Glasgow's traditional markets such as the Barras, Glasgow Green and the St Enoch Centre, offer a variety of sweet treats, including traditional Scottish sweets and confectionery.

Remember that Glasgow is known for its delicious sweet treats, and there are many places where you can indulge your sweet tooth while on vacation in the city.

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Consider how much more OpenAI now knows about me after I asked those questions,
and how it could use that to target advertising and content at me.


Posted by
6841 posts

Avi, anyone who goes online gets targeted - if you don't want that, go incognito or use a VPN. And if you don't like the bot, don't use it. Very simple. I think it would be fun to make a little guidebook using it. Nothing fancy - just something to take out on day trip.

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Interesting! I hope I never hear that it passes a state bar exam - that would be too depressing for words.