Am I a Moron Because I Use

May 10, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

“Only Morons Use ChatGPT As a Substitute for Google” is a declarative statement. Three words strike me as important in the title of the Lifehacker (an online publication).

First, “morons.” A moron according to citation is: A city in Eastern Argentina although it has the accented ó. On to the next definition which is “A person who is considered foolish or stupid.” I think this is closer to the mark. I am not comfortable invoking the third definition because it aims denotative punch a a person with a person having a mental age of from seven to 12. I am 78, so let’s go with “foolish or stupid.” I am in that set.

Second, “ChatGPT.” I think the moniker can apply specifically to the for-fee service of OpenAI. It is possible that “ChatGPT” stands for an entire class of generative software. I tried to make a list of a who’s who in generative software and abandoned the task. Quite a few companies are in the game either directly like the aforementioned OpenAI or a bandwagon of companies joyfully tallied by and a few LinkedIn contributors. I think the idea is that ChatGPT outputs content which is either derivative (a characteristic of a machine eating other people’s words and images) or hallucinatory (a feature of software which can go off the rails and output like a digital Lewis Carroll galumphing around a park in which young females frolic).

Third, “Google.” My hunch is that the author is an expert online searcher who like many open source intelligence professionals rely on the advertising-supported Google search for objective, on-point answers. Oh, my, that’s quite a reliable source of information. I want to point out that Google focuses on revenue-generation from advertising. Accuracy of results often has little connection to the user’s query. My interpretation of the word “Google” is that Google is good, probably better than “ChatGPT” in providing answers designed to meet the needs of users who may not read above the 9th grade level, struggle with derivatives, and cannot name the capital of Tasmania. (It is Hobart, by the way.)

I am on the fence with the word “only.” I am not comfortable with categorical affirmatives. Given the context of the article and the fact that Google is the Web search engine of choice (conscious or manipulated) for 90 percent of people in North America and Western Europe, I can understand why the field of view is narrow. An expert with regard to Google knows more and more about less and less.

Why is ChatGPT presented as the yan to Google’s yang? The write up says:

If you can’t fact-check the bot, the answers it gives are useless.

Okay, so people fact-check Google outputs. What does Google present with regard to Larry Page and his alleged interactions with Mr. Epstein, the late Mr. Epstein I should say. Run this query Google Page Epstein and this is what the system presented to me on May 6, 2023:


Are these stories accurate? Is CNBC the most relevant story about a lawsuit involving JPMorgan Chase and Jeffrey Epstein? What about the New York Post article “Virgin Islands Struggles to Subpoena Google’s Larry Page in Jeffrey Epstein Lawsuit against JPMorgan.” Or the tech insider outfit Gizmodo which offers “Google’s Larry Page Could Be Served in Jeffrey Epstein Case.” There are citations to the British newspaper Telegraph and one from Law & Crime. There is a Yahoo story and a Daily Beast article.

Now what does offer me when I query Google Page Epstein?

There have been recent news articles reporting that the US Virgin Islands has issued subpoenas to Google co-founder Larry Page in connection with a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase over the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case 1. The lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan Chase facilitated Epstein’s trafficking scheme by continuously offering financial support to Epstein despite knowing about the illegal activities conducted at Little St. James, a private island owned by Epstein. The subpoenas seek documents and communications related to JPMorgan’s banking relationship with Epstein. Sergey Brin, another Google co-founder, has also reportedly been subpoenaed. Despite the subpoenas, it appears that the US Virgin Islands is struggling to serve Page with the legal documents. A recent ruling allows Page to be served with the subpoenas via his attorney in California. cnbc1

I would suggest that the Google citations provide a list, no indication of which source is more or less highly regarded for accuracy. Google wants me to click on one or more of the links, ingest the content of each article, and then synthesize the items of information which strike me as on the money. on the other hand provides me with the bare bones of the alleged involvement with a person who like Lewis Carroll may have had an interest in hanging out around a park on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Catching some rays and perhaps coming up with new ideas are interpretations of such as action by a lawyer hired to explain the late and much lamented Mr. Epstein.

So which is it? The harvesting of buckwheat the old-fashioned way or the pellet of information spat out in a second or two?

I think the idea is that morons are going to go the ChatGPT-like route. Wizards and authors of online “real” news articles want to swing that sickle and relive the thrill of the workers in Vincent van Gogh’s “The Harvest.”

The article says:

you can’t tell whether an AI-generated fact is true or not by the way the text looks; it’s designed to look plausible and correct. You have to fact-check it.

Does one need to fact-check what Google spits out? What about the people who follow Google Maps’s instructions and drive off a cliff? What about the links in Google Scholar to papers with non-reproducible results?

Here’s the conclusion to the write up:

So if you want to use ChatGPT to get ideas or brainstorm places to look for more information, fine. But don’t expect it to base its answers on reality. Even for something as innocuous as recommending books based on your favorites, it’s likely to make up books that don’t even exist.

I like that “don’t even exist.” Google Bard would never do that. Google management would never fire a smart software executive who points out that Google’s smart software is biased. Google would never provide search results that explain how to steal copyright protected software. Well, maybe just one time like this:


Oh, no. Wonky software would never ever do that but for Google’s results via YouTube for the query “Magix Vegas crack.” Now who is a moron? Perhaps an apologist for Google?

Stephen E Arnold, May 10, 2023


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