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ChatGPT: what will it mean for you?

ChatGPT recently burst onto the technology scene as a type of artificial intelligence model that is used for generating human-like text, but that is not all it can do. Dr Harry Brown looks at the huge ramifications of the system, not just for healthcare, but for everyday life.

In the past year the subject of artificial intelligence (AI) seems to have burst on the scene and has become a major news item. This whole subject area may seem like a behind-the-scenes technical issue, but that is far from the case. The ramifications of this potential breakthrough in AI could be huge for all of us.

It could alter the way we use search engines or ask companies and other services for advice whilst some of the tech giants could gain or lose big time financially. This could impact on the stock market values of many companies in the tech sphere, which in turn can feed through to our pensions and investments.

The interest in AI has been bubbling in the background for a while but has spiked recently because of the huge success of an openly accessible AI system called ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer). It has been described as an artificial intelligence chatbot and the impact so far has been transformative.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT was launched on 30 November 2022 and has become the most rapidly growth consumer app of all time in terms of numbers. It only took five days to reach one million users, in contrast with Netflix, another tech giant which took three years to achieve the same landmark.

Essentially, you ask a question of ChatGPT in ordinary language and it engages in human-like dialogue by predicting the next word in a sentence or phrase based off the context of previous words. The responses are meant to be natural and conversational. This, therefore, makes it an ideal tool for remote healthcare and telemedicine.

ChatGPT could also be used to generate automated summaries of patient interactions and medical histories, which can help streamline the medical recordkeeping process.

Demand on ChatGPT is bursting at the seams and sometimes it is not easy to get on to the website and ask ChatGPT for help. There is a service for which you pay a monthly fee and this allows privileged access to ChatGPT.

I joined the bandwagon early on and after reading a newspaper article whereby an online greetings card retailer wanted to incorporate ChatGPT into its service to allow greeting card consumers to generate their own prose and poems for the cards. This spurred me into trying ChatGPT to generate a poem for a Valentine’s card for my wife. I typed in her name and told it that she was my wife and I asked for a suitable Valentine poem. Within seconds, I got several paragraphs of pretty impressive prose from ChatGPT which I wrote on the card. My wife knew it was too good for me and I told her the origin!

Personally, I found this very impressive as have several friends who have tried it. The commercial implications of this kind of technology are huge and this has generated all the hype. Like many tech breakthroughs there is the initial honeymoon period where something is the next big thing. Then it may not live up to expectations before it then it finds its place as a more useful technology. My gut feeling is that this kind of AI will be a transforming technology to society.

Revolutionising search engines

Modern tech titans such as Microsoft and Alphabet (who own Google) have taken a keen interest in this area. Every single second, Google facilitates about 100,000 (yes you read that right) searches and these searches are tied to adverts and these adverts are highly lucrative. That has propelled Alphabet to become the world’s fourth largest company and it has roughly 90% of the world’s market share of the search market. Microsoft is also a huge company and have recently ploughed $10 billion into the company that owns ChatGPT, opening up a threat to Google’s dominance. No doubt Microsoft has its eye on the associated money-spinning digital advertising which powers Google’s profits.

Google has responded with its own AI chatbot called Bard, which has just gone operational in a limited manner. The idea is that the combination of search technology algorithms and AI mean users will be quickly served up with customised search text in a short time without needing to look elsewhere. This could be revolutionary to the user whilst the winner in the search game thanks to search-based advertising, could make a fortune.

However, search technology and the huge mound of money associated with it is not the only aspect of modern life that has been or could be affected by AI technology. For example, ChatGPT recently passed some sections of a United States Medical Licensing exam!

Although that sounds scary don’t worry we are not out of a job just yet! Medicine is not the only profession in the firing line from AI chatbots, the legal profession is also adopting this technology. In a way this is understandable as the legal profession produces lots of documents which an AI system can easily produce. A big London law firm has started using an AI chatbot called “Harvey” which can generate legal documents but like the medics, there is a caveat. That is lawyers then need to check, improve and customise the AI generated draft. After all, current AI can produce errors in their output which is called “Hallucinate” so lawyers are not redundant just yet.

Chatbots such as ChatGPT are not a brand-new phenomenon and ChatGPT may have a high profile because it is directly available to the public. This technology can do more than simply generate text to questions. It can create puzzle games, produce music, advise on relationships as well as solving mathematical issues.

Chatbots like ChatGPT could be a game-changer in society with improvements in efficiency and cost and could replace many jobs, including healthcare. The effect on the search business of tech giants like Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft could be enormous. However, accuracy has to be improved, copyright issues may need to be resolved (AI could be using copyrighted material available online to learn from). We can’t stand in the way of progress and the revolution has started, we just need to be ready for it.

Bill Gates, one of the co-founders of Microsoft and a well-known tech guru and philanthropist has recently described AI as “revolutionary” and up there with the impact of the internet, mobile phone and the graphical user interface we use in modern computers.

I wrote this article the old-fashioned way by thinking and manually researching the topic. ChatGPT did not write this article! However, after writing this article, I asked ChatGPT “Write an article for Geriatric Medicine Journal explaining how useful ChatGPT can be?”

Within seconds and at a fast rate, the following article appeared! And I thought it was impressive. It took a few seconds to respond to my query and within 30 seconds generated this original article below which I have simply copied and pasted below.

ChatGPT version of this article

As the population ages, geriatric medicine has become increasingly important in ensuring the health and wellbeing of older adults. With advances in technology, there are now more tools available to help healthcare professionals provide the best care possible to their elderly patients. One such tool is ChatGPT, a large language model trained by OpenAI that can be incredibly useful for geriatric medicine.

ChatGPT is an AI language model that has been trained on a vast amount of text data from the internet, books, and other sources. It uses natural language processing (NLP) to understand and respond to questions and prompts in a conversational manner. This technology can be incredibly useful in the field of geriatric medicine for several reasons.

Firstly, ChatGPT can help geriatricians and other healthcare professionals provide more personalized care to their patients. As older adults often have multiple chronic conditions and complex medical histories, it can be challenging to keep track of all the necessary information to make informed decisions. ChatGPT can help healthcare professionals by providing relevant information and answering questions in real-time. This can save time and ensure that patients receive the best care possible.

Secondly, ChatGPT can help older adults who are isolated or unable to leave their homes. Many older adults experience loneliness and social isolation, which can have negative effects on their physical and mental health. ChatGPT can provide a virtual companion that can converse with them and offer support and advice. This technology can help older adults feel more connected and engaged with the world around them, which can improve their overall wellbeing.

Thirdly, ChatGPT can help healthcare professionals stay up-to-date with the latest research and medical information. Geriatric medicine is a rapidly evolving field, and it can be challenging to keep up with new developments. ChatGPT can provide access to the latest research and help healthcare professionals make informed decisions based on the most current information available.

Finally, ChatGPT can help older adults and their caregivers navigate the healthcare system. The healthcare system can be complex and confusing, particularly for older adults who may have multiple health conditions and need to see several different specialists. ChatGPT can help patients and caregivers understand medical terminology and provide guidance on how to access appropriate care and resources.

In conclusion, ChatGPT can be an incredibly useful tool for geriatric medicine. It can help healthcare professionals provide personalized care, support older adults who are isolated or unable to leave their homes, stay up-to-date with the latest research, and navigate the healthcare system. While ChatGPT is not a replacement for human interaction and care, it can be a valuable addition to the tools and resources available to geriatricians and other healthcare professionals. As technology continues to evolve, it will be exciting to see how ChatGPT and other AI tools can be used to improve the care and wellbeing of older adults.


Dr Harry Brown is a retired GP, Leeds and medical editor of Pavilion Health Today



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