I was feeling a bit bored, so I decided to give ChatGPT, the online artificial intelligence (AI) tool, a test drive:
My first question:
Question 1: How long do you think Anwar Ibrahim will last as Prime Minister of Malaysia?
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot predict the future with certainty, but I can provide you with some context and analysis based on available information.
Anwar Ibrahim became Prime Minister of Malaysia on October 13, 2021, after securing a majority of support from the Members of Parliament. His appointment marked the end of Muhyiddin Yassin’s short-lived premiership, who resigned amid political turmoil and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Anwar Ibrahim is a seasoned politician who has been involved in Malaysian politics for more than three decades, and he has held various positions, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. However, his political career has also been marked by controversy, including imprisonment on charges of corruption and sodomy, which he maintains were politically motivated.
The longevity of Anwar Ibrahim’s tenure as Prime Minister will depend on several factors, including his ability to manage the country’s economic and social challenges, navigate the country’s complex political landscape, and maintain the support of the Members of Parliament who voted for him.
Additionally, Malaysia has a history of political instability, and it is not uncommon for governments to collapse or be replaced in a short period. Therefore, Anwar Ibrahim’s ability to maintain a stable government coalition and avoid political turmoil will also be critical to his longevity as Prime Minister.
In conclusion, it is difficult to predict how long Anwar Ibrahim will last as Prime Minister of Malaysia, given the many variables at play. However, if he can effectively manage the country’s challenges and maintain the support of the Members of Parliament, he could potentially remain in office for a considerable amount of time.
Verdict: Fair enough, it cannot predict the future, though it did provide some background. Perhaps some time in the future, it might be programmed with algorithms that could calculate the probability of various timeframes.
As it stands, it made a couple of glaring factual errors. Anwar did not become PM in October 2021 but in November 2022. And he did not succeed Mahiaddin Yasin but took over from Ismail Sabri Yaakob, after the 2022 general election.
To be fair, ChatGPT does have a caveat that it has limited knowledge of world events after 2021.
The rest of the answer is just stating the obvious, which would be applicable to leaders of coalition governments in most countries.
ChatGPT fared a bit better with my next question.
Question 2: What are Malaysias most critical socioeconomic challenges?
ChatGPT: Malaysia faces several critical socioeconomic challenges that have a significant impact on the country’s development and its citizens’ well-being. Some of the most pressing challenges are:
Income inequality: Malaysia has one of the highest income inequality rates in Southeast Asia. The top 20% of households earn almost 50% of the total income, while the bottom 40% earn only 14%. This disparity in income distribution can lead to social unrest, poverty, and unequal access to opportunities.
Unemployment and underemployment: Despite the government’s efforts to create jobs, unemployment remains a significant problem in Malaysia, particularly among young people. Many Malaysians also face underemployment, where they are employed but not in jobs that match their skills and education levels.
Education quality and access: While Malaysia has made significant strides in education, there are still concerns about the quality of education, particularly in rural areas. The government has also faced criticism for not doing enough to ensure equal access to education, which can exacerbate income inequality and social mobility issues.
Affordable housing: Housing affordability is a significant issue in Malaysia, particularly in urban areas. Many Malaysians struggle to find affordable housing, which can lead to overcrowding, poor living conditions, and a lack of access to essential services.
Healthcare access: Malaysia has a relatively good healthcare system, but access to healthcare is not equal across the country. Rural areas and low-income communities often have limited access to healthcare facilities and services, which can lead to poor health outcomes and a lack of preventative care.
Addressing these challenges will require a multi-faceted approach that involves government policies, private sector investment, and community engagement.
Verdict: A more decent answer at perhaps school A-level standard. No real depth though but perhaps an acceptable starting point outlining several critical issues.
But it fails to mention why this is happening in a country with abundant resources.
Question 3: Is the Penang South Islands project good for Penang?
ChatGPT: The Penang South Islands project is a large-scale development project that aims to create three new islands off the southern coast of Penang Island in Malaysia. The project has been controversial, with some arguing that it will bring economic benefits and others expressing concerns about its environmental impact and the potential displacement of local communities.
The proponents of the project argue that it will bring significant economic benefits to Penang, including increased tourism, job creation, and enhanced connectivity to the mainland. They also point to the potential for the development of high-tech industries and the creation of new residential and commercial areas.
However, opponents of the project argue that it will have a significant negative impact on the environment and local communities. They raise concerns about the destruction of coral reefs and other marine habitats, the potential for increased pollution, and the displacement of fishing communities that rely on the area’s marine resources. There are also concerns about the impact on traffic and the ability of the existing infrastructure to cope with the increased demand.
Ultimately, the question of whether the Penang South Islands project is good for Penang is a complex and contentious one, with strong arguments on both sides. While there may be potential economic benefits to the project, it is important to carefully consider the potential environmental and social impacts and to take steps to mitigate these risks.
Verdict: An OK summary of the current state of play. It tries to be fair to both sides.
But then, it weasels a conclusion that the subject is a “complex and contentious one”, when the issue is hardly contentious and quite straightforward. Of course I think the Penang government’s argument for the project is far from “strong”.
The last sentence appears to even side with the Penang government by saying that all it needs to do is “mitigate” the risks, whereas Penang civil society and the fishing community are demanding an outright cancellation. Crucially, it fails to explore the obvious issue: who benefits or profits from such greed and who loses out?
ChatGPT’s conclusion thus suggests a pro-corporate, pro-establishment bias.
So there you have it, AI – as it stands – is clever. It can answer straightforward questions fairly well, but for more subjective questions, its answers are unable to capture the nuances, beyond stating the obvious. Some may see this as ‘objectivity’.
But, as its answer to question 3 reveals, it does have its own biases. These biases may be a reflection of the online mainstream literature or sources it refers to, which tend to be pro-establishment and corporate-based, with little space for marginalised voices or voices from the periphery.
Sure, those behind ChatGPT and similar AI tools will try to improve on their accuracy as time passes to avoid glaring errors of the type seen in the answer to question 1, but I doubt it can get past the mainstream moneyed bias.
Of deeper concern, ChatGPT’s sterile answers reveal it has no ‘soul’, no depth of feeling or compassion for marginalised groups or the ecosystem, and this is where you can’t beat or fake the human touch and intuition.
Perhaps in time it will try to mimic the tone of the human soul in its responses. But even if it tries to do that, it will probably come off sounding contrived, especially when we know AI does not have a soul or the ability to feel genuine empathy for human suffering and ecological destruction.