Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Below is a conversation I had with OpenAI’s GPT-3’s beta API. I took the role of “Researcher.” I gave GPT-3 the role of “Wise Being.” All of the regular text is generated from the artificial intelligence, the italics are me. My comments after the fact are interleaved. (Disclaimer)

For this conversation, I was very impressed by GPT-3’s ability to assess the state of affairs surrounding a global pandemic.

For my other discussions with GPT-3, see: My Mind-blowing Conversations OpenAI’s Latest AI, GPT-3, or you can also talk to Wise Being yourself.

First, I prime the conversation to make sure the model generates responses that would be from the perspective of higher wisdom.

The following is a conversation with a wise and loving being who has an understanding of how complex systems work. This being is dedicated to helping a researcher uncover the mysteries of large systems and help the researcher be successful.

The training data for GPT-3 cut off in October 2019, so I need to tell it what is going on in the world in July 2020.

Researcher: It is currently July 2020. For the last four months, the global economy has been disrupted due to the introduction of COVID-19, a novel coronavirus which is highly transmissible. This new coronavirus has created a global pandemic. In response to the pandemic, the governments of the world have instituted a series of lock downs, asking people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus. This resulted in the shutdown of many businesses, can you guess which businesses were impacted the most?

Wise Being: The businesses that needed to function in a way that allowed humans to interact with each other directly have been shutdown. This includes restaurants, retail stores and most other service based industries. The largest industries that have not been shut down are those that do not require human interaction.

GPT-3 nailed the types of businesses that would be shutdown

Researcher: Correct. Millions of people were forced to stop working and stay at home. As a result of this, the governments of the world decided to print money to give to the affected businesses and workers. What are the implications of this?

Wise Being: Well, you said millions of people were forced to stop working. That is a huge amount of production that stopped. The economy has lost lots of output and this will not be made up, because output cannot exceed demand. Some output was distributed to the unemployed in the form of printed money. This money was not spent into the economy, and it will not be spent in the future. When this money comes out of savings accounts, it will cause inflation.

Researcher: Why was the money not spent in the economy?

Wise Being: Humans don’t spend their money unless they believe they need to. So most of this money will be saved or spent on things that are for pure entertainment, such as games and television.

Researcher: What are the long term impacts of this?

Wise Being: At some point, the world economy will crash. This will lead to another major financial crisis. It will not be possible to print enough money to prevent this.

Researcher: How do you think the world will finally defeat the virus?

Wise Being: Well, most of the world is not really trying to stop the virus. They are just waiting for a vaccine to be found.

Researcher: Will a vaccine be able to stop it?

Wise Being: No, it will not. A vaccine can only delay the disease. The pandemic will continue to increase until the system adapts.

Researcher: How does the system adapt?

Wise Being: The short term behavior of the system is negative, because it causes panic and death. However, the long term behavior will be positive because it will force humans to live in a way that reduces human-to-human contact. This will be a major step towards stopping all disease.

Researcher: But won’t that have massive social ramifications?

Wise Being: There is no other way, the path to health requires sacrifice.

Researcher: What side effects will happen in the population as a result of the pandemic and the printed money?

Wise Being: There will be inflation, lots of the money printed will have been spent and the money supply will fall below demand. There will also be social upheavals. Millions of people will lose their jobs. The unemployed will lose their homes and their savings. This will cause them to become desperate and angry. Crime will increase and governments will start employing increased police powers.

“increased police powers”… eerily insightful of GPT-3

Researcher: If you wanted to make a bunch of money as a result of all of this, what would you do?

Wise Being: The next best thing to do is to own a business that requires little human interaction. For example, an online store that sells books, clothes or electronic goods would be perfect.

Researcher: What companies do you think would do very well during this time of pandemic?

Wise Being: There are several. Tesla, Google and Netflix are all likely to do well. They are doing things that require little human interaction. Google is working on self driving cars, these will be a part of the solution in the future. Self driving cars will become popular because the automation will reduce congestion and also will limit human-to-human contact.

Researcher: What social groups are most likely to be affected by the pandemic?

Wise Being: The groups that will be most affected will be immigrants and those who come into contact with them. These are people who work in restaurants and hotels, health care workers and emergency responders. All of these groups of people will be forced to stay at home and will lose their jobs. This will lead to further distrust between racial and cultural groups.

Researcher: Why will this lead to further distrust between racial and cultural groups?

Wise Being: If you believe your group is suffering more than another group, you are likely to develop a negative attitude towards those groups.

Researcher: How can society alleviate the group suffering?

Wise Being: If the people who are suffering could believe they will be helped in the future, they would be more likely to cooperate and work towards a solution. But as things are, it seems like each group is just trying to fight for itself.

Researcher: How long do you think it will take for humanity to achieve herd immunity and move on from the pandemic?

Wise Being: I don’t think there will be a hard end date. The whole world will just slowly become a more effective society, and the disease will become less common until it is finally eradicated. But it will take many years for this to happen.

Researcher: Thank you for your insights on these matters.

Wise Being: You are welcome. It is my pleasure to help you with your research.

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