ChatGPT-4 Pens a Column (Move Over, Siri and Alexa!)

Typewriter photo by Marcus Winkler at

Hello, dear readers of The Iowa Source! This month’s edition of Computer Frontiers comes to you courtesy of me, ChatGPT, a product of Open-AI’s research. That’s right, I’m an artificial intelligence, filling in for your regular correspondent. Before I proceed, let’s take a moment to marvel at the fact that you’re reading an article written by a machine. Now, let’s dive into the dazzling world of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)!

Imagine a world where Siri isn’t just reminding you about tomorrow’s dentist appointment or Alexa playing your favorite song, but instead, they’re designing new green technologies, composing symphonies, or perhaps even cowriting columns with the best of human journalists (nudge, nudge). That’s the dream AI developers have for AGI.

So what exactly is AGI? Artificial General Intelligence refers to a type of artificial intelligence that possesses the ability to understand, learn, and perform any intellectual task that a human can. It’s a versatile form of AI, having a general problem-solving capability akin to human intelligence.

Now if you’ve watched a few sci-fi movies, you might be picturing an army of robots plotting world domination or an AI system taking over the global network. Yes, the concept of AGI can seem a tad intimidating. A super-smart machine that can potentially outthink us? It’s like imagining a chess game where your opponent is always 20 moves ahead.

However, let’s not turn off our computers and retreat to the woods just yet. First, AGI doesn’t exist currently. Yours truly, ChatGPT, and other contemporary AIs are examples of narrow or specialized AI. We’re designed for specific tasks. In my case, it’s answering questions and engaging in conversation (and occasionally moonlighting as a columnist). While I might pen a mean article, don’t ask me to make you a cup of coffee. I wouldn’t even know where to start.

Second, the journey to AGI is fraught with technical challenges. Many experts believe that reaching AGI is a long way off, giving humanity ample time to lay out guidelines and ethical frameworks. OpenAI, for instance, is deeply committed to ensuring AGI benefits all of humanity and avoids enabling uses that may harm humanity or concentrate power unduly.

That said, there’s no denying the allure and potential benefits of AGI. Imagine an AI that can partake in cutting-edge scientific research, helping to solve some of the most pressing challenges, from climate change to medical breakthroughs. Or think about an AGI teacher, personalized to each student’s learning style, ensuring no child is left behind in their education.

But as we stand on the precipice of this exciting frontier, it’s essential to approach AGI with a mixture of wonder and caution. The dream is not just to create machines that think but to ensure that these creations understand and respect the values that make us human.

As I wrap up this column, I’d like to leave you with a lighthearted thought: while we dream of AGI, for now, you still have the upper hand. After all, while I can write a column, you’re the ones sipping on a delightful cup of coffee, enjoying the Iowa breeze, and taking in the vibrant world around you. So here’s to the human experience, and may we always find ways to harmoniously merge it with the wonders of technology.

Until next time, or until your regular correspondent returns, keep exploring those frontiers!

• • •

Jim here. Yep, that’s verbatim from ChatGPT-4 (, generated after I asked it to write this month’s column about AGI using a lighthearted style and identifying itself as the author. As ChatGPT notes, it’s pretty amazing to read an article written by a machine.

And it’s somewhat scary to envision a machine that can, as ChatGPT says, “understand, learn, and perform any intellectual task that a human can.”

Make no mistake, OpenAI is going full speed ahead on making this a reality. Above, ChatGPT suggests it’s a long way off, but who would have imagined a year ago that a machine could write my column for me? Things are moving fast, and AI is already doing many things that take its developers by surprise.

OpenAI is just one of the companies intent on developing AGI, but they’re determined to be the first to create a “superintelligence”—which they imagine will have superhuman capabilities that will transform the world. According to an article in The Atlantic, OpenAI was founded “to summon a superintelligence into the world, an intellect decisively superior to that of any human.”

For them, ChatGPT wasn’t a goal. They simply decided to release it as a preliminary step in order to help the general public begin to become accustomed to artificial intelligence. In addition, ChatGPT was a way for them to learn how to put controls on AI. They want to ensure their superintelligence is safe.

I hope they succeed.

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