Will the MATLAB Answers community diminish/obsolete with the rise of AI-based chatbots?

KALYAN ACHARJYA on 11 Jun 2023
Latest activity Reply by KALYAN ACHARJYA on 3 Jul 2023

The MATLAB Answers community is an invaluable resource for all MATLAB users, providing selfless assistance and support. However, with the emergence of AI-based chatbots, like chatGPT, there may be concerns about the future relevance and utility of the MATLAB Answer community. What are your thoughts?
Joss Knight
Joss Knight on 3 Jul 2023
You look like you are asking a question about how AI-assisted automation will change MATLAB Answers in the coming years and potentially make useful answers hard to find.
You could try the following approaches:
  1. Flag any answers that look like they have been generated by bots.
  2. Ask contributors directly whether they are bots. If they do not answer, they are a bot.
  3. Ignore any example code in suspicious posts that isn't directly runnable on MATLAB online.
  4. Engage the answerer in conversation. Real people respond only to the new points raised, whereas bots typically respond with a new complete answer.
  5. Something else. AIs always provide a list of at least 5 solutions.
Bear in mind that your responder may be a well-intentioned user leveraging a bot to help them with a language barrier or to otherwise articulate themselves. Also consider that younger contributors are becoming accustomed to using this format to respond and so may be inadvertently aping chatbot formatting, rather than actually using a chatbot. And some final obscure point of baffling irrelevance.
DGM on 3 Jul 2023
... I see what you did there.
FWIW, unwittingly aping chatbots really isn't much of an excuse if it results in an equivalently unhelpful word salad. I haven't acted on any, but some of them are amusingly vague and irrelevant.
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 12 Jun 2023
DGM on 11 Jun 2023
Plenty of other forums are currently getting swamped with reputation farmers posting zero-effort AI babble. SE has already opted to ban AI content, but without any clear means of identifying it but in extreme cases. I've seen a handful of answers in the last couple weeks that smelled like generated content (fresh account, overly verbose, perfect grammar, zero formatting, with conspicuously tenuous relevance). Just as moderators on SE point out, vague suspicion isn't enough to conclude that it's not human. It's easy to worry that these things will start to pile up here too.
So will human insight be made obsolete by the world becoming satisfied to use AI for solving math and engineering problems without supervision? Depends how little people care about the outcomes. Are there age-old professions where only a shallow appearance of correctness is required? Absolutely.
I think it's more prudent to consider the effects that might require action within the scope of the forum itself. Asking "will the forum cease to exist" has the same answer and practical utility as asking "will I die someday".
KALYAN ACHARJYA on 12 Jun 2023
For user it doesn't matter if the answer is provided by human or AI bots, the answer must be correct, thats it.
"So will human insight be made obsolete by the world becoming satisfied to use AI for solving math and engineering problems without supervision?"
I don't think so, human supervision always require for critical thinking and new innovations.
Thank you @DGM for your time to answer this.
John D'Errico
John D'Errico on 11 Jun 2023
Will it? Well, CAN it? Yes, of course. I have no claim to omniscience, nor any reservations that something or someone would/could be better and more knowledgable than am I.
Everything I know can probably be searched for and fed back to you. And since I have answered many thousands of questions, as well have many others, an intelligent bot COULD do the same. Of course, a bot that did nothing more than search through the compiled mass of answers over the years would need to understand that some answers are better than others. As well, it would need to understand that MATLAB has changed over the years, so an answer that was perfectly valid 10 or 15 years ago, is now sometimes a poor answer. A bot would need to fully understand numerical methods, numerical analysis, and a huge variety of problems that MATLAB can solve. (In fact, it could be argued that a bot could do this last part well, but then you need to accept that Answers is actually a composite of the knowledge base of thousands of people, with completely different skill sets, so we do have a massive knowledge base already.)
Even textbooks change. And textbooks are not always fully correct either. Mistakes exist. So a bot would need to fully understand mathematics, as well as be able to filter out what it sees as being only partially correct. This is really a skill we learn when we attend school, the ability to filter the validity of what we see, hear, read, etc.
Finally, a bot would need to understand the point of a question from imperfect phrasing. This is something that all of us here sometimes fail at. What is the real question being asked? Sometimes we need to answer the question "you" really have, and not the question as asked!
So, could we be replaced? Sure. Would the replacement be any better? That might be arguable. I have things to do at home anyway if that comes to pass. Gotta go now...
@Joss Knight Thanks for your inputs.
Joss Knight
Joss Knight on 3 Jul 2023
For all the hype, AI is just a glorified way of interpolating sample data. No offense meant, it's my field. ChatBots rely on existing queries and responses to learn. Until they are literally reading the documentation, generating code, running it in a copy of MATLAB and evaluating the results as part of their training, they're always going to need human input, as John says, to be able to extrapolate to new questions and new versions.
Unfortunately I think the current wave of excitement about AIs that are good at sounding smart and human will soon fade out with disappointment that they can't do more. Intelligence is about more than just interpolation, and we're going to need to work at it for a while. Hopefully by the time we're obsolete, we won't mind.
That doesn't mean the influx of ChatBots into MATLAB Answers isn't going to cause some nuisance of course. Let's hope it's more like the nuisance of predictive text or grammar corrections and less like the nuisance of cold callers.
KALYAN ACHARJYA on 12 Jun 2023
Agreed @John D'Errico But the number of members will definitely reduce.
Thank you for your time to answer this.
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 11 Jun 2023
Right. How often have we seen this:
Well . . . like every day.
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 11 Jun 2023
ChatGPT will never be as good as me solving image processing problems. It may reduce the number of people coming here for answers, but then there's this:
KALYAN ACHARJYA on 12 Jun 2023
Haha example image is perfect. thank you

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