Chat GPT

Chat AI

What is Chat GPT?

What are the immediate impacts and what will it mean for the future of publishing?

When I first heard the words Chat GPT, my instant thought was that the GP shortage in the UK must have reached a point where an AI GP is being rolled out as a solution.

I swiftly realised that while our GP crisis in the UK continues to go unresolved, Chat GPT is here to revolutionise scientific publishing! Or is it? That is the question that is being discussed in the publishing industry at the moment, but let’s take a step back first.

What is Chat GPT?

Now we’ve already deduced that this is not an AI GP ready to be rolled out into the population like a dystopian style medic, so what is this Chat GPT that the publishing world (and the wider world for that matter) is buzzing about… It’s essentially a chat bot, but what makes this chat bot special, is the advanced artificial intelligence that allows the chatty tech to create poems, essays, resumes, and perhaps most relevant to publishing, contributions to scientific articles.

It was released in November 2022 by a company called OpenAI. You might also hear it referred to as an LLM, a Large Language Model. What makes it really special, is that in comparison to previous text creations from chat bots, it’s not always immediately obvious that the text has been created by a robot. Gone is the stunted robotic language style, replaced with naturally flowing language that would leave even Turing scratching his head.

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Implications for scientific publishing?

Since Chat GPT started making headlines, questions have been asked about whether AI will take over jobs. The main question for the publishing industry is, will Chat GPT replace the role of the author? Well, this new tech can already write Abstracts that can fool human reviewers. And in this article, you can even learn about how it has been featured in the author list of a growing number of papers. Though Chat GPT and other AI technologies are unlikely to entirely replace authors anytime soon, do I believe that they will become a standard tool for authors writing scientific papers? Absolutely.

There is also the question of quality. In the publishing industry at present we already face huge challenges to quality. There’s a lot of inaccurate and frankly, rubbish science out there. It’s a sad fact that sometimes this research is published in a journal and becomes part of the scientific record. While we hope that bad science is ultimately retracted, the retraction process can be slow and, in the meantime, the published article may continue to be read and used. So what happens when an AI is able to generate vast volumes of poor quality scientific dribble at the press of a button. Research papermills are already churning out articles at a frightening rate. How likely is it that we will we see these two tornados combine, and when can we expect them to hit? What we do know, is that publishers will face additional pressure to have their early warning systems in place to get ahead of this bad weather front, and leverage their own technology to maintain quality standards across all journal publications.

Publishers and scientists are reacting to this news in mixed ways. Officially, most publishers are either reviewing their policies or have stated outright that Chat GPT does not meet the criteria to be an author due to lack of ‘accountability’ (Nature & Science). At the moment, only a select handful of publishers have had to tackle the “problem” that is AI authorship, so official policy stances from publishers have not been forthcoming.

With Chat GPT, there are a lot of open questions, and not a lot of answers, but I hope this blog post has provided you with a basic understanding of the status quo as it stands right now, in early 2023. As this situation develops (let me dig out my crystal ball), I expect we will see more publishers announce specific policies on AI authorship, new AI technologies will be rolled out to identify AI contributions in manuscripts, and there will be an increased uptake from the scientists themselves in using AI tools to make writing articles easier and more efficient.

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