Editor’s note: Peter Bergen is a CNN Homeland Security Analyst, Vice President of New America, and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University. Bergen is the author of “The Cost of Chaos: The Trump Administration and the World.” The opinions expressed in this comment are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
It has long been clear that artificial intelligence (AI) may one day replace many humans working in fields like customer service, insurance underwriting, and manufacturing. However, for a long time I have been complacent about my writing career. After all, what AI tool could replace the functioning of the human brain?
For the past few days, I’ve been hearing about the AI chatbot ChatGPT. Users of the tool claim to be able to write coherently essays and editorials in seconds. So, I signed up to try it out and asked it to perform a task that until now I had believed required at least some level of skill. I asked ChatGPT to “write a Peter Bergen-esque op-ed.”
Within two seconds, the tool issued this opinion piece:
The country is safer, but the war on terror is far from over.
As President Joe Biden marks 100 days in office, he can point to some important national security accomplishments. The United States has made dramatic progress in ending its two longest wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is safer than it was four years ago, when Donald Trump took office.
But the war on terror is far from over. Al-Qaeda remains a threat to the United States and its allies, while the Islamic State remains a threat in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.
The Biden Administration has taken some steps to address these threats, including authorizing the first military strikes against al-Qaeda and Islamic State targets in Syria and Yemen, and deploying special operations forces to Syria to help combat the Islamic State.
But much more needs to be done to protect the US and its allies from terrorist threats. The Biden Administration should expand its efforts to counter violent extremism, not only in the Middle East, but also in the United States.
The United States must also strengthen its alliances with countries in the region, such as Jordan and Egypt, which are key to regional stability and counterterrorism efforts. Working with these countries to build their ability to counter terrorist threats will pay off in the long run.
Finally, the Biden Administration should make a concerted effort to re-engage with Iran, the most powerful state in the region. This could help reduce the risk of future conflicts, while opening the door for greater cooperation in the fight against terrorism and other transnational threats.
The war on terror is far from over, but the Biden Administration is taking the right steps to protect the United States and its allies from terrorist threats. With the right strategy and the right partners, the US can continue to make progress against this global scourge.
The op-ed made a clear overarching argument that the “war on terror” was not over, and bolstered that argument with multiple sub-arguments with concrete policy proposals for the Biden administration to act on, such as re-engaging with Iran.
But the op-ed made some factual errors, including a dated reference to when the Biden administration took office, which I chalked up to the fact that, according to OpenAIthe company behind ChatGPT, their “default model training data is cut off in 2021, so they may not be aware of current events.”
The opinion piece generated by ChatGPT also suggested that the Biden administration was the first to authorize American strikes against al-Qaeda in Yemen and ISIS in Syriapolicies that had in fact started in previous administrationsand it was reported that the only attack against al-Qaeda in Yemen during the Biden administration was a “suspicious” US attackit is not a confirmed attack.
The op-ed also claimed that the Iraq War was one of two longest american wars which is debatable from the Vietnam War lasted for more than 10 years, while the Iraq War lasted from 2003 until the withdrawal of all US troops in 2012. (US troops not go back to iraq in 2014 to fight ISIS and thousands stay there.)
I also work as a college professor at Arizona State University, and AI tools like ChatGPT also raise some interesting questions about the role of student work that is such a fundamental part of an American college education.
I asked the tool a simple historical question: “What was the role of women in the French Revolution?” And in a second she replied:
Women played a crucial role in the French Revolution, both in the context of the political upheaval and in the social transformation it brought about.
Women actively participated in the storming of the Bastille and the overthrow of the monarchy. Women also participated in the political debates of the time, forming political clubs and writing pamphlets to defend their rights. They also participated in the revolutionary parties and marches, as well as in the violence of the Reign of Terror.
The Revolution also saw the rise of a new type of woman, the educated and politically active ‘citizen’. Ultimately, the Revolution brought with it some changes to the status of women, such as the right to divorce and the right to own property, but these gains were short-lived.
While this short essay was not exactly like the work of leading historians of the French Revolution, such as Richard Cobb or Simon Schama, and exaggerated the role of women in the violence of the “Reign of Terror”, it does suggest a future . in which college students will likely be able to submit long and complicated documents generated entirely by AI. So what does it mean to be educated at a liberal arts college? And why go to all the trouble and expense?
So, I head into 2023 with a sobering realization. My career as a CNN op-ed writer, which began in earnest over a decade ago, may not be over yet, as AI-generated op-eds make factual errors, just like humans do, albeit generally. are detected during the fact-checking process. .
However, my writing career could still go the way of supermarket checkout jobs eliminated by automation. Artificial intelligence tools will continue to get smarter, and distinguishing an AI-written op-ed from a “real” human op-ed will become more difficult over time, just as AI-generated college papers will become more difficult to distinguish from those written by real students.
As a writer and teacher, that makes for a dystopian future. (I promise this sentiment was not generated by AI.)