As impressive as it is, Wikipedia isn’t a perfectly infallible encyclopedia of human knowledge. It’s an amalgamation of human-submitted content that can scramble facts or fall victim to bias.
The advent of advanced AI raises an interesting question: should an AI be involved in the creation of its entries to facilitate the process?
Wikipedia founder — and guy who’s constantly asking you for a $5 donation — Jimmy Wales has some seriously mixed feelings about that, but he’s unwilling to completely disregard the possibility.
“The discussion in the Wikipedia community that I’ve seen so far is… people are cautious in the sense that we’re aware that the existing models are not good enough but also intrigued because there seems like there’s a lot of possibility here,” Wales told UK newspaper The Evening Standard.
“I think we’re still a way away from: ‘ChatGPT, please write a Wikipedia entry about the empire state building’, but I don’t know how far away we are from that, certainly closer than I would have thought two years ago,” he added.
Lies and Use Cases
Wales also pointed out the tendency of the likes of ChatGPT to “hallucinate,” an act that he prefers to call “lying.”
“It has a tendency to just make stuff up out of thin air which is just really bad for Wikipedia — that’s just not OK,” he told the newspaper. “We’ve got to be really careful about that.”
But despite these shortcomings, the Wikipedia founder acknowledged there might be some interesting uses for AI when it comes to writing and fact-checking entries.
For instance, an AI could “see if there are any statements that contradict each other” in two Wikipedia entries, or “identify tensions where one article seems to be saying something slightly different to the other,” as Wales told The Evening Standard.
Fortunately, “a lot of people in the AI world are focused” on the problem of bias, Wales argued, which means it may be a while until Wikipedia contributors start relying on AI chatbots to complete entries.
And that might ultimately might be a good thing, as that would give the likes of OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google time to iron out the many kinks.