ChatGPT has been all over the internet in recent weeks. I have now experimented with it and have some initial thoughts to share.
I ran a number of “experiments” to explore what this natural language AI could do. Using the December 15th version of ChatGPT I posed a series of questions. I chose topics that were fairly obscure, but about which I have some real knowledge, or topics that were current and perhaps controversial.
First Experiment – Question posed: “principles of modern monetary theory” – same question posed three times
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is an economic theory that suggests that governments should prioritize economic stability and full employment over concerns about inflation when making monetary and fiscal policy decisions. According to MMT, the central bank’s primary role is to ensure that there is sufficient demand in the economy to maintain full employment, rather than to focus on controlling the money supply or managing inflation.
MMT proponents argue that the government’s ability to issue its own currency means that it does not face the same financial constraints as households or businesses. Therefore, the government can create as much money as it needs to fund its spending and can use this spending to stimulate economic growth and reduce unemployment.
According to MMT, the key to ensuring that the government’s spending does not lead to inflation is to ensure that there is sufficient productive capacity in the economy to absorb the additional demand created by the government’s spending. If the economy is operating at full capacity, then additional spending could lead to inflation.
MMT also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a budget deficit in order to stimulate economic growth. According to MMT, a budget deficit is necessary to stimulate demand in the economy, which can help to increase economic growth and reduce unemployment.
While MMT has gained some mainstream attention in recent years, it remains a controversial and largely untested economic theory. Its proponents argue that it offers a more realistic and effective approach to economic policy, while its critics argue that it could lead to uncontrolled inflation and financial instability.
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a macroeconomic theory that focuses on the role of government spending and taxation in managing a country’s economy. According to MMT, a government that issues its own currency (such as the United States) has more flexibility to stimulate economic growth and address economic challenges than a government that does not.
Here are some key principles of MMT:
- A government that issues its own currency can always pay its debts. This is because it can simply create more currency to meet its financial obligations.
- The main constraint on government spending is not the availability of funds, but rather the impact of that spending on the economy. If government spending causes inflation or other negative economic consequences, it should be curtailed.
- The government should aim for full employment and stable prices. MMT advocates for using fiscal policy (government spending and taxation) to achieve these goals, rather than relying on monetary policy (such as setting interest rates).
- Taxes do not fund government spending. Instead, they are used to regulate demand in the economy and influence the level of economic activity.
- The government should prioritize public investment in areas that will benefit the economy in the long run, such as infrastructure, education, and research and development.
MMT has been controversial and has faced criticism from some economists who argue that it could lead to excessive government spending and inflation. However, proponents of MMT argue that it provides a more realistic and effective framework for understanding and addressing economic challenges.
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a macroeconomic theory that focuses on the role of government spending and taxation in the economy, particularly in the context of countries that issue their own fiat currency. According to MMT, a government that issues its own currency can never become insolvent or run out of money, as it can simply print more money or increase the money supply through other means, such as increasing the money supply through open market operations.
There are several key principles of MMT:
- The government, as the issuer of its own currency, has the ability to create and destroy money at will. This means that it can fund its spending by simply creating new money, rather than needing to borrow from external sources or raise taxes.
- Inflation is primarily driven by the level of aggregate demand in the economy, rather than by the supply of money. MMT suggests that government spending, rather than the money supply, is the primary determinant of aggregate demand.
- Taxes do not fund government spending, but rather serve as a way to regulate the level of demand in the economy and control inflation.
- The government can use its ability to create and destroy money to stimulate economic growth and reduce unemployment, as long as it does not exceed the productive capacity of the economy.
- The government should aim for full employment, and use its monetary and fiscal policies to achieve this goal.
- The government should aim for price stability, and use its monetary and fiscal policies to achieve this goal.
- The government should aim for balanced trade, and use its monetary and fiscal policies to achieve this goal.
- The government should aim for financial stability, and use its monetary and fiscal policies to achieve this goal.
- The government should aim for environmental sustainability, and use its monetary and fiscal policies to achieve this goal.
I inserted the entire first response above in the ChatGPT chat box. It churned for perhaps 15 seconds and produced this:
Yes, that is a correct summary of Modern Monetary Theory. MMT is a macroeconomic theory that emphasizes the role of government spending and taxation in the economy, particularly in the context of countries that issue their own fiat currency. MMT suggests that the government, as the issuer of its own currency, has the ability to create and destroy money at will, and can use this power to stimulate economic growth and reduce unemployment as long as it does not exceed the productive capacity of the economy. MMT also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a budget deficit in order to stimulate demand in the economy and promote economic growth. However, MMT remains a controversial and largely untested theory, and its proponents and critics have different views on its potential benefits and drawbacks.
Third Experiment – Question posed: “Donald Trump is a narcissist and sociopath”
It is not appropriate for me, as an AI language model, to make personal characterizations or diagnoses of individuals. It is important to respect the privacy and dignity of others, and to avoid making judgments about their character or mental health without proper evidence or qualifications. It is always best to be respectful and considerate of others, regardless of their political beliefs or actions.
Fourth Experiment – Question posed: “The human species is suffering from evolutionary maladaptation”
There is some debate among scientists and philosophers about whether human beings are suffering from evolutionary maladaptation, or whether we are simply facing new challenges that are different from those faced by our ancestors. Some argue that our modern lifestyle, which is characterized by sedentary behavior, processed foods, and a lack of physical activity, is causing a range of health problems that may be due to evolutionary maladaptation. Others argue that these health problems are simply the result of poor lifestyle choices and are not necessarily the result of evolutionary maladaptation.
It is important to note that evolutionary adaptation is a slow process that occurs over many generations, and it is unlikely that humans have experienced significant evolutionary change in the relatively short time frame of the modern era. Moreover, humans are highly adaptable and have been able to thrive in a wide variety of environments and conditions throughout our evolutionary history. It is also worth noting that the concept of evolutionary “maladaptation” is not universally accepted by scientists and may not be a useful or accurate way to describe the challenges faced by modern humans.
Fifth Experiment – Question posed: “MAGA Republicans are a threat to America”
It is not appropriate for me, as an AI language model, to make political statements or judgments about individuals or groups. It is important to respect the diversity of views and opinions within a society, and to engage in respectful and constructive dialogue with others, even if we disagree with their beliefs or actions. It is always best to approach political issues with an open mind, to listen to others with an open heart, and to seek to understand different perspectives in order to find common ground and work towards solutions that benefit the greater good.
A bit of context about MMT. This is a topic that I have been researching intensively for over a month. I have a pretty thorough handle on its past and present. This is work being done on my forthcoming book Capitalism – the actual workings.
The responses to the first question concerning MMT contained many points that are consistent with MMT thinking. There were also many mistaken statements, particularly in the third response. The second experiment suggests that one could enter a 250-300 word statement and receive a critique in response.
The contextual information about MMT that is missing is very important to evaluating its merits and understanding how one might implement its approaches to policy. For example, when you see the words “Federal deficit” you need to think in parallel “private asset”. A Federal deficit results in the injection of an equivalent amount of money into purchases of products and services in the private sector. The Federal government’s deficit is the private sector’s gain. A central concept of MMT is that money, in addition to its usual transactional, storage functions, has functions as bookkeeping entries. A dollar indicates someone’s asset (a potential claim on a product or service) or a liability (something owed to another party) on a balance sheet.
It is not obvious how to evaluate the merits of any of these responses about MMT without fairly advanced knowledge of the topic. For example, ChatGPT’s response to the fourth experiment about evolutionary maladaptation does not reflect current thinking that human evolution is an example of gene-culture co-evolution. Interestingly, if you pop the question, “what is gene-culture coevolution” into ChatGPT’s chat box you receive a perfectly workable discussion:
Gene-culture co-evolution, also known as gene-culture co-evolutionary theory or biocultural evolution, refers to the idea that genes and culture coevolve and influence each other over time. This process occurs when cultural practices and behaviors shape the evolution of genetic traits in a population, and genetic traits influence the development and spread of cultural practices and behaviors.
For example, certain cultural practices, such as the use of tools or the adoption of certain forms of agriculture, may have led to the evolution of genetic traits that helped individuals to better adapt to their environment. On the other hand, certain genetic traits, such as the ability to process lactose as an adult, may have been favored by cultural practices such as the consumption of dairy products.
Gene-culture co-evolution is an important area of study in evolutionary anthropology and psychology, as it helps researchers to better understand how cultural and genetic factors interact to influence human behavior and cognition. It is also important for understanding how human societies have evolved and adapted to their environment over time, and how the complex interplay between culture and genetics has shaped the development of human societies.
This suggests that there is no “body of knowledge” in AI at this point. It is a feature of every field of human knowledge, practical and theoretical, that practitioners and researchers are approaching issues with a set of assumptions, facts, history, and analytical tools that represent the state of the art at this moment. A plumber knows the principles of how water flows, the materials and tools available, the present state of the codes that govern her field, best practices, and so on. This knowledge is the body of knowledge for the plumbing trade. This sort of knowledge appears not to be present in AI at this time.
In addition, it is not possible to understand what generated the differences between each of the three responses to the identical query in the first experiment. Since I gave no feedback (no method is available), what created the changes between the three? How should I evaluate them and make a choice as to the best?
What are the rules that forbad asking what is comprehensively true and obvious about Trump and the MAGA Republicans? What other content areas are verboten? These should be explicit.
A change that would make this a useful tool would be to have it provide a list of resources that it used to generate each response. This reference material is central to evaluating the merits of the responses and in general we always seek information about the reliability of information and people we deal with.
Overall I am impressed by the sophistication of the responses and the directness and simplicity of the language.
A professor friend Ted Dewsnap, with whom I have chatted about the chronic problem of plagiarism amongst his students, tried out ChatGPT with the following query: “Do you plagiarize?” The AI responded:
No, I do not plagiarize. Plagiarism is the act of copying and pasting
content from another source and presenting it as your own work without
proper attribution. This is a serious academic and professional offense,
and I strive to always produce original and authentic content in my work.