ChatGPT Featured in Nature’s 10

Biju Dharmapalan

Every year, the prestigious scientific journal Nature selects ten individuals who played significant roles in crucial scientific discoveries from that year. The scientific journal compiles an annual list of ten people they believe have had a major impact on science, called Nature’s 10. No matter their stance on science, these nominees have made a lasting impression. Reporters and editors at Nature assess people whose positions have significantly influenced science or whose impact on the world is significant as part of the selection process. The list includes short biographies of the people responsible for some of the year’s most important discoveries and events. The compilation also features five people named “ones to watch” for the coming year. Last year’s list,which was published on December 13, made every Indian proud as it featured our Kalpana Kalahasti, who played a crucial part in ensuring Chandrayaan-3’s triumphant touchdown on the Moon, along with global stalwarts .
But last year’s Nature’s 10 will be written in the annals of human history, as for the first time, it featured a non-human entity. The AI-based ChatGPT has found a place in the list, along with human scientific counterparts. Why incorporate a computer program into a compilation of individuals who have influenced science in 2023? ChatGPT isn’t a human being, but in numerous aspects, this software has significantly and extensively impacted the field of science throughout the past year.
ChatGPT, a chatbot created by OpenAI, was released on November 30, 2022. The AI-based bot ChatGPT has gained wide acceptance among the scientific community, as well as among the public, since 2022.In just five days of launch, ChatGPT crossed 1 million users. By January 2023 (two months after its launch), ChatGPT users grew by 9900% – meaning it gained 100 million active users. According to the latest available data, ChatGPT has around 180.5 million users.
Within a short time of its inception, ChatGPT has found profound acceptance among the research community. It acts as a valuable tool in scientific research across various domains. ChatGPT can assist researchers in performing literature reviews by succinctly summarising and extracting crucial details from an extensive array of scientific journals and articles. It offers succinct summaries of current research, aiding researchers in identifying deficiencies in the literature or locating pertinent studies. ChatGPT can assist researchers with data analysis by providing insights, hypotheses, or explanations using given datasets. It can assist in the interpretation of intricate findings, providing supplementary viewpoints or indicating possible links within the data.ChatGPT is frequently used by researchers as a writing aid, often for the purpose of drafting sections of research papers, proposals, or reports. The generation of content that is coherent and well-structured can be facilitated by it. ChatGPT has already become an invaluable lab assistant for many researchers, helping summarize or write manuscripts and polish applications and code.
The basic objective of ChatGPT is to maintain discussions in a reasonable and compelling manner that is consistent with its training data. Nevertheless, in the process of achieving this objective, it, along with other generative artificial intelligence (AI) programmes, is transforming the landscape of scientific endeavour. The advent of this transition has rekindled conversations about the limits of artificial intelligence (AI), the fundamental nature of human intellect, and the most effective ways to regulate the interaction between the two. One of the reasons that a non-human entity was chosen to be included in this year’s edition of Nature’s 10 is because of this issue.
Nature’s list also recognizes the creators of such AI-based technologies. Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist and cofounder of OpenAI, the organization that created ChatGPT, has also found a place among Nature’s 10. The growth of AI has rapidly intruded into every sphere of scientific activity. The research papers written by ChatGPT have even passed the scrutiny of reviewers of high quality. If one is smart in using modern technologies, doing scientific research is not a big deal. Even the relevance and role of PhD supervisors in this changing AI-based world is debatable. More than a PhD supervisor, AI-based tools give scholars the necessary guidance to complete their work on time. Currently, from school children to research scholars, everyone is using tools like ChatGPT unscrupulously, as they are freely available. Even though there is debate on the limits of AI usage and how it can be regulated, the fact is that AI is slowly overpowering the human brain in its thinking process. The AI revolution is exploding, and there is no turning back. Only time will reveal how an invention of science will affect the quality of future science.
(The author is an adjunct faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore)