Life is generic, and therefore so is our AI. Botcopalypse postponed for now. Technofear can stand down. As with Zombie move tropes, the real threat is from the humans. Interacting with ChatGPT is not that different from talking to any bureaucracy.
I have in the past set out a few scenarios for students on my Illicit Markets and Organisations course for them to complete in class. For example, ‘you are acting as an ethics advisor to a team of superheroes/vigilantes’, or ‘you are advising Twitter on disinformation’. One is to imagine what it would be like to act as group of advisors to a drug or cybercrime gang. These are prompts to encourage students to think about the kind of decisions made by groups on different sides of the law. ChatGPT is a large language model which gives generically plausible answers to queries.
In the hope I could have some help with planning my next course I put the following into ChatGPT:
> Tell me a creative way of teaching about organised crime .
> One creative way to teach about organized crime is to have students create their own fictional criminal organization. To do this, first provide them with background information about different types of organized crime groups and the activities they engage in (such as drug trafficking, extortion, or money laundering). Then, have students work in small groups to create their own criminal organization, including a name, logo, hierarchy, and description of their criminal activities. Once they have developed their organizations, have each group present their “business” to the class and explain why it is successful and how it operates. This activity allows students to engage with the material in a creative and imaginative way, and can help them better understand the complexities of organized crime. It also allows them to develop critical thinking and presentation skills. Alternatively, you could also use real-world examples of organized crime groups and have students research and present on different aspects of these groups, such as their history, structure, and activities.
Thanks, ChatGPT for transcribing what was in my brain. I will be sure to acknowledge what you suggested. But I know your game. For then I wrote:
> tell me a creative way of teaching about policing
> One creative way to teach about policing is to create a mock crime scene and have students work in groups to investigate the scene and collect evidence. Students could be assigned roles such as crime scene investigators, forensic scientists, or detectives, and they would need to work together to identify and collect evidence, interview witnesses, and come up with a theory about what happened. This can help students understand the process of investigating a crime and the important role that police officers play in solving crimes. Alternatively, you could also bring in guest speakers who are police officers and have them talk about their experiences on the job and the challenges and rewards of working in law enforcement. This can give students a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to be a police officer.
When I asked for a creative way of teaching about teaching it … suggested students work together in groups to come up with a lesson plan. Poor students – give them a rest. So presumably its suggestions are the same whatever you want to teach about, I thought. I thought wrongly. When I asked about teaching about pornography it thankfully did not suggest I set the students the task of recreating Pam’n’Tommy. It suggested they produce a ‘public service announcement (PSA) about the potential harms of pornography. This can help students understand the impact that pornography can have on individuals and society, as well as the importance of educating others about these issues. To do this, you could have students research the potential harms of pornography, such as its effects on relationships and body image, and use this information to create a PSA that educates others about these issues.’ Oh cold hearted chatbot, you have moral qualms after all. Simulating organised crime okay, organised boom not. Now I’m being schooled in classroom etiquette by Ai. Redundancy is coming.
Here we can see an example of learned bias – or more neutrally, tendencies – in the system. Pornography must appear in its text corpus often enough alongside harm for it to put that association front and foremost when suggesting a teaching idea – or perhaps it has learnt to recognise some of the risks in hands on classroom activities in topics related to sex and sexuality. Well at least we have some guardrails here – win! Then I axed it to help me teach about Onlyfans.
> One creative way to teach about OnlyFans is to have students create a fictional OnlyFans account and develop a content plan for it. This can help students understand the mechanics of the OnlyFans platform and the considerations that go into creating and promoting content on the site. To do this, you could have students choose a niche or theme for their OnlyFans account and come up with a content plan that includes a variety of types of content, such as photos, videos, or live streams. Students could then create a marketing plan for their account, including strategies for promoting their content and engaging with their audience. This can help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as gain an understanding of the potential rewards and challenges of creating content on OnlyFans. Alternatively, you could also have students research and present on the history and impact of OnlyFans, such as its role in the sex work industry or its influence on the broader entertainment industry. This can help students understand the broader context of OnlyFans and its significance in today’s society.
It applied precisely the same template when I asked about Pornhub.
> One creative way to teach about Pornhub is to have students create a fictional Pornhub account and develop a content plan for it. This can help students understand the mechanics of the Pornhub platform and the considerations that go into creating and promoting content on the site. To do this, you could have students choose a niche or theme for their Pornhub account and come up with a content plan that includes a variety of types of content, such as photos, videos, or live streams. Students could then create a marketing plan for their account, including strategies for promoting their content and engaging with their audience. This can help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as gain an understanding of the potential rewards and challenges of creating content on Pornhub. Alternatively, you could also have students research and present on the history and impact of Pornhub, such as its role in the sex work industry or its influence on the broader entertainment industry. This can help students understand the broader context of Pornhub and its significance in today’s society.
Not doing that. I would rather not be cancelled just yet, thank you. Therefore some specific sex work or pornography businesses are okay to get the ‘do it in the classroom’ treatment, just not the general topic of pornography as such. There is more to be said there about how subtle differences in framing produce very different responses – almost like with real humans. There are a few topics to parse here – one is that it situates Pornhub and OnlyFans as part of the entertainment industry, which is flattering to them. Some dimensions we would ask about in the classroom are entirely missing. For instance, there are no prompts we would want to give students about power and exploitation in the sex industry, about competing political or theoretical takes on the topic, or encouraging them to put the content and platform in a global context. The solution focuses on the generic critical and problem solving skills students will develop by way of this topic, and not the specific critical takes on sex work, controversies around sex work, and the kind of society that shapes sex work in the ways channeled and amplified by Pornhub and its chums. So overall we are so far dealing with generic answers to specific questions, which is broadly what you get from the ‘higher education should be about teachable skills’ crew. Its incessant repetition of that is ChatGPT’s most human quality. For years we have been told that humans are basically sets of predictable biases and response heuristics, so it is the sweetest thing at our Ai is much the same.