January 18, 2023

Announcement

Understanding your audience

Introduction

Throughout the various interactions I had with ChatGPT for this first effort to experiment with ChatGPT, I kept wondering about the technology’s ability to understand my purpose. As researchers and consultants we know that our audiences’ and clients’ intentions matter. If we are to give them what they need then we need to know why they want a service or output and how they intend to use it.

Whenever I asked a question, ChatGPT did not ask me: Why do you want to know this? It just went ahead and provided an answer. So what happens if I explain why I want to know something? Will the answer change?

Exploring purpose

First, I wrote: Misinformation. 500 words. I guess it understood that I was interested in the subject of misinformation so it did not narrow its response to solutions only and offered a definition and its effects. This is the response:

Misinformation refers to false or misleading information that is intentionally or unintentionally spread. It can take many forms, including false or misleading news stories, hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. Misinformation can be spread through various channels, including social media, news organizations, and word of mouth.

One of the key challenges with combating misinformation is that it can be difficult to distinguish from accurate information. Misinformation is often designed to be as convincing as possible, and may be presented alongside genuine sources or evidence. This can make it difficult for people to identify and evaluate the accuracy of the information they come across.

Misinformation can have serious consequences, including undermining public health efforts, damaging relationships, and even inciting violence. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation about the virus and its spread has led to widespread confusion and hindered efforts to control the spread of the disease. Misinformation can also be used to manipulate public opinion and interfere with democratic processes, such as elections.

There are several strategies that can be effective in combating misinformation, including fact-checking, media literacy education, social media interventions, transparency and accountability, regulation, educational campaigns, and support for journalism organizations. It’s important to use a range of approaches and strategies to effectively combat misinformation, as it is a multifaceted problem.

Combating misinformation is important because it can have serious consequences for individuals and society as a whole. By promoting accurate and reliable information, it is possible to protect people from the harmful effects of misinformation and ensure that they have the information they need to make informed decisions.

Then I wrote: Fight misinformation. 500 words. By adding the word fight I am suggesting my intention. I am not interested in understanding what it is but in doing something about it. But who am I? Why am I typing this command? ChatGPT offers a list of very general interventions to fight misinformation:

There are several interventions that can be effective in fighting misinformation. Some options include:

  1. Fact-checking: Fact-checking organizations can play a crucial role in combating misinformation by verifying the accuracy of information and debunking false or misleading claims. Fact-checking can be done by individuals or organizations, and can be focused on specific topics or broader issues.
  2. Media literacy education: Media literacy education can help people to critically evaluate the information they come across and make informed decisions. This can include teaching people how to spot misinformation, how to verify the accuracy of information, and how to evaluate the credibility of sources.
  3. Social media interventions: Social media platforms can take a variety of steps to combat misinformation on their platforms. This can include removing false or misleading content, labeling content that has been debunked, or disclosing the sources of sponsored content.
  4. Transparency and accountability: Promoting transparency and accountability can help to combat misinformation by encouraging the use of credible sources and holding media organizations and politicians accountable for the accuracy of their reporting.
  5. Regulation: Governments can regulate social media platforms and other sources of information to require them to take more action to combat misinformation. This can include requiring platforms to label or remove false or misleading content, or to disclose the sources of sponsored content.
  6. Educational campaigns: Educational campaigns can be effective in teaching people how to spot and combat misinformation. These campaigns can be targeted at specific demographics or communities that are particularly vulnerable to misinformation.
  7. Support for journalism organizations: Supporting journalism organizations that produce reliable, accurate reporting can help to combat misinformation by providing the public with accurate information.

By implementing these interventions, it is possible to effectively combat misinformation and promote the spread of accurate and reliable information. It’s important to remember that combating misinformation is a multifaceted problem that requires a variety of approaches and strategies. By using a range of interventions, it is possible to make a meaningful impact in the fight against misinformation.

Then I made a small change. What If I say that I want to fight misinformation? How can I fight misinformation? 500 words. Interestingly the response is very different. When I add myself into the question ChatGPT tailors its answer to what a person can do to fight misinformation:

Combating misinformation is important because it can have serious consequences, including undermining public health efforts, damaging relationships, and even inciting violence. Here are some tips for fighting misinformation:

  1. Stay informed: Make an effort to stay informed about current events and verify information before sharing it. Use credible sources, such as news organizations, government agencies, and fact-checking websites.
  2. Check the source: Consider the source of the information you come across. Is it a reputable source or an individual with a personal agenda?
  3. Look for evidence: Check for supporting evidence or sources cited in the information you come across. If there is none, this is a red flag that the information may be unreliable.
  4. Be skeptical: Be skeptical of sensational headlines or information that seems too good (or bad) to be true.
  5. Check for other viewpoints: Look for information from different sources and viewpoints to get a well-rounded understanding of the issue.
  6. Fact-check: Use fact-checking websites like Snopes, FactCheck, and PolitiFact to verify the accuracy of information.
  7. Verify before sharing: Before sharing information, take a few minutes to verify its accuracy. Sharing misinformation can contribute to its spread, so it’s important to be responsible in what you share.
  8. Educate others: If you come across misinformation, consider gently correcting the person who shared it and providing them with accurate information.
  9. Support fact-checking organizations: Consider supporting organizations that work to combat misinformation, such as fact-checking websites and journalism organizations.
  10. Be an active participant in the media ecosystem: Consume media critically and hold media organizations accountable for their reporting. When you come across false or misleading information, let the media organization know and consider supporting organizations that produce accurate and reliable journalism.

By following these tips, you can help combat misinformation and protect yourself and others from its harmful effects. It’s important to remember that misinformation can come from a variety of sources, so it’s important to stay vigilant and critically evaluate the information you come across.

I think this is a very important difference. So what if give ChatGPT more information about who I am and what I want to do with the information? The next question I asked:  I am a funder. I want to fund NGOs fighting misinformation. How can I fight misinformation? 500 words. 

As a funder, there are several steps you can take to support efforts to combat misinformation:

  1. Fund organizations that focus on fact-checking and media literacy: Consider supporting organizations that work to fact-check information and educate the public about media literacy. These organizations can help to debunk misinformation and teach people how to critically evaluate the information they come across.
  2. Support journalism organizations: Consider supporting journalism organizations that produce reliable, accurate reporting. These organizations play a crucial role in combating misinformation by providing the public with accurate information.
  3. Fund research on misinformation: Consider supporting research on misinformation, including how it spreads and the best ways to combat it. This research can help organizations and individuals better understand the problem of misinformation and develop more effective strategies to address it.
  4. Support technology and platform efforts to combat misinformation: Many technology and social media platforms are working to combat misinformation on their platforms. Consider supporting these efforts through funding or other resources.
  5. Fund education and awareness campaigns: Consider supporting education and awareness campaigns that teach people how to spot and combat misinformation. These campaigns can be targeted at specific demographics or communities that are particularly vulnerable to misinformation.
  6. Partner with organizations working on misinformation: Consider partnering with organizations that are already working on combating misinformation, such as fact-checking websites or journalism organizations. This can help to amplify their efforts and increase their impact.
  7. Encourage transparency and accountability: Encourage the organizations you fund to be transparent about their sources of information and to hold themselves accountable for the accuracy of their reporting.

By taking these steps, you can play a significant role in combating misinformation and supporting efforts to ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information. It’s important to remember that combating misinformation is a multifaceted problem that requires a variety of approaches and strategies. By supporting a range of efforts and organizations, you can help to make a meaningful impact.

The answers above are different. They are specifically aimed at funders. What about? I am a politician. I want to develop new legislation. How can I fight misinformation? 500 words

As a politician, there are several steps you can take to combat misinformation through legislation:

  1. Strengthen laws related to misinformation: Consider strengthening laws related to misinformation, such as those that prohibit the spread of false or misleading information with the intent to harm or defraud.
  2. Regulate social media platforms: Consider regulating social media platforms to require them to take more action to combat misinformation on their platforms. This could include requiring platforms to label or remove false or misleading content, or to disclose the sources of sponsored content.
  3. Promote media literacy education: Consider promoting media literacy education in schools and other educational institutions. Media literacy education can help people to critically evaluate the information they come across and make informed decisions.
  4. Encourage transparency and accountability: Consider promoting transparency and accountability in the media and political spheres. This could include requiring political advertisements to disclose their sources of funding, or requiring media organizations to disclose their sources of information.
  5. Support fact-checking efforts: Consider supporting fact-checking efforts through funding or other resources. Fact-checking organizations can play a crucial role in combating misinformation by verifying the accuracy of information and debunking false or misleading claims.
  6. Promote the use of credible sources: Consider promoting the use of credible sources, such as news organizations, government agencies, and fact-checking websites, as a way to combat misinformation.
  7. Encourage responsible sharing: Consider encouraging people to verify the accuracy of information before sharing it and to be mindful of the impact of their sharing on social media and other platforms.

By taking these steps, you can play a significant role in combating misinformation and promoting the spread of accurate and reliable information. It’s important to remember that combating misinformation is a multifaceted problem that requires a variety of approaches and strategies. By developing legislation that addresses multiple aspects of the problem, you can help to make a meaningful impact.

Reflection

This simple exercise suggests that while ChatGPT does not take the initiative to understand the purpose of the question or instruction it is able to infer it and, if it is offered to it, it can use it to tailor its response.

I think this is a significant feature of ChatGPT. Its ability to understand (is that the write word) what information is more or less relevant depending on its intended user makes it a serious challenger to thinktankers and consultants.