Digital Exhaust #191
Touchy feely GPT, a Down Barbie, and a 63 MPH garbage can
It’s another edition of Digital Exhaust, my weekly digest of interesting and rando stuff from the ether. Thanks for subscribing. And if you’re not one of us, subscribe right below. Enjoy the list.
I’m in DC publishing this on my iPad for the first time. Hard to edit the pictures so forgive any format wonkiness (sp).
Give a hand
Give A Hand is a project by the American Society for Deaf Children that’s asking people to upload images of their hands to create a sign language training set for AI systems. Check it out -- and give your hands. File under very cool projects.
Touchy feely GPT
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine examined questions from patients and compared responses from ChatGPT and physicians. The results are dramatic. Evaluators preferred chatbot-generated responses over physician responses 4 to 1. Further, the chatbot responses were rated higher for both quality and empathy, even when compared with the longest physician-authored responses
Eric Topol summarized the study and its limitations nicely over on Ground Truths.
'Empathy’ has been thrown around pretty loosely in some of the media discussions referencing the study. The suggestion is that the GPT is empathetic, or ‘more empathetic’ than the clinicians behind the human created responses.
I’m not sure this is the case.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others — It’s unique to higher order beings like us. It’s born from a repertoire of human experiences. We can create machines that mimic empathy and social response. But it’s nothing more than an illusion. There is no empathy.
Or in the words of ChatGPT who I queried this morning:
As an artificial intelligence language model, I do not have emotions, feelings or consciousness, and therefore I cannot experience empathy in the same way that humans or animals do. However, I can recognize and understand emotions and provide responses that may be empathetic in nature. I can use my knowledge and language capabilities to respond to human emotions and offer supportive or comforting responses, but these responses are not based on personal emotional experience or subjective understanding of emotions.
But this ChatGPT is very cleaver. “I cannot experience empathy in the same way,” leaves the door open to accepting a kind of machine empathy that is real, but different.
I’ll eat the dog food here and suggest that despite priding myself on the ability to make unique human connections, I sometimes feign empathy like the machines. My bandwidth for human response can be dangerously slim some days. So I lean on certain postures and behaviors that I know convey something I can’t deliver from my heart. It’s just the truth.
And at the end of the day, communication that identifies with a reader’s pain or concern is good communication. This is true whether it is generated by an algorithm or a human brain. We should embrace theae tools and figure out where they fit and make us and our patients better.
I believe disclosure is important in these cases.
I’m feeling philosophical
I stumbled on this on Twitter.
I’ll channel Simon Sinek here who suggested in Leaders Eat Last that trust is a uniquely human phenomenon. You can rely on technology, but you can’t trust it.
Okay, no more philosophy today. I promise.
A 63 MPH trash can
Some people are just remarkable. Gotta get my hands on one of these….
Top secret Apple health coaching service in the works
Apple is working on an AI-powered health coaching service. Going by the top secret name Quartz, it reportedly will use Apple Watch data to shape tailored coaching programs.
The future of AI is niche
Brief, interesting MIT Tech Review article/essay suggesting the that the future of generative AI is niche and specialized -- quite contrary to the mainstream narrative.
Overheard on Twitter: Benedict Evans
Early 2023: “LLMs will disrupt search!”
Spring 2023: “Search is probably the only thing that you can’t use an LLM for.”
You can, of course use it for search. 60 to 70% of what it says will be correct. If that doesn’t matter, or if you can tell the difference, it’s fine, but you can’t ask you for anything where the error rate matters and you can’t tell.
Impact of AI on time to read a chest x-ray
Interesting study in Nature’s NPJ Digital Medicine looking at how AI impacts reading time for radiologists. Overall reading times shortened when radiologists referred to AI, especially for normal CXRs; however, abnormalities detected by AI on CXR appeared to lengthen reading times. Therefore, AI may be able to improve the efficiency of radiologists by sparing time spent on normal images and allowing them to invest this time in CXRs with abnormalities.
Great example of how AI collaboratively augments a physician’s workflow.
You can disable chat history in ChatGPT
You can now disable chat history (and training) in ChatGPT. Conversations that are started when chat history is disabled won’t be used to train and improve models.
If I believe them, this is very cool. I’ve always worried inputting my original writing and thinking for ideas will appear in someone else’s chat output.
Rosalind Franklin’s contribution to identifying the structure of DNA
Watson and Crick are credited with identifying the structure of DNA. Science historians have suggested that the contributions of crystallographer Rosalind Franklin were overlooked due to her gender. New findings detailed in this Nature article support the claim.
Mattel has released a Barbie doll resembling the likeness of children with Down syndrome.
If you have an extra 1000 bucks lying around you can grab some of these Dyson Zone Headphones — They're a combination air purifier/headphone set. From Fast Company, “By simply existing and functioning, the Dyson Zone is adding more pollution to the world for itself to filter.“
New phrase of the week: Public toilet desert
Lack of access to a rest room. A real issue for those with bowel and bladder conditions. As detailed in Taking the Piss, one British toilet activist is trying to change things
The end of pop and the rise of the long tail
Powerful insight on the end of pop culture from Seth Godin. “The end of pop and the rise of the long tail and AI brings us back a century. Just like it used to be–small circles of people, not mass markets.”
Thanks again for reading and thank you for sharing. If you get a kick out of this, please pass it along to someone with the suggestion that they sign up. It means a lot. Have a great week!