Alexander Klöpping and Ernst-Jan Pfauth launched a futuristic podcast episode last Friday: for the first time, a Dutch podcast was written entirely by a robot.
A majority of listeners didn’t find out until halfway through, or even later, the weekly episode of A podcast about media this time was written by an algorithm. Alexander Klöpping himself finds it incredible how well a computer can imitate a person nowadays.
Klöpping, founder of news app Blendle, and Ernst-Jan Pfauth – founder of From Correspondent – have been recording a weekly podcast since 2016, in which they discuss and analyze news from the world of media and technology together. Listeners are lightly informed by the two entrepreneurs about the latest developments – although the dynamics between the two and their skeptical attitude are also worth listening to.
‘Most powerful language model ever’
This week, the two left everything to GPT-3, a model with which texts can be generated by means of artificial intelligence.
The model has been ‘trained’, as it were, with thousands of books and an infinite number of articles from the internet, including many Wikipedias. GTP-3 can therefore ‘speak’ English in a credible way. The New York Times calls GTP-3, which was developed by OpenAI (the company founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman, among others), “by far the most powerful language model ever created.”
For their futuristic podcast episode, Pfauth and Klöpping got the robot to listen to previous episodes of their podcast. Subsequently, the GTP-3 model wrote a script in English, which was translated into Dutch. The two tried to read the script as credibly as possible.
No will of his own yet
Even those who listen with today’s knowledge would have doubts. The two still complement each other seamlessly, interrupting and laughing at themselves every now and then, just like in the previous episodes.
That is exactly what Pfauth finds most surprising, “that it managed to capture our dynamics as interlocutors.” “It’s whiny and interrupting each other. The algorithm fully understood our style. I don’t know if we will be needed in five years to shoot new episodes of A podcast about media.”
Pfauth needs to do that The Guardian not yet to be feared. The fear that people will be completely taken over by GTP-3 is not yet an issue. The robot does not yet have a will of its own, so it cannot create anything without human input.
The relevant episode called ‘Our hobbyhorses’ is here to listen back.
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