Stack Overflow, the popular discussion and answer source for programmers, has announced an official, though temporary, ban on responses produced by OpenAI’s new ChatGPT chatbot. Moderators cited concerns about the accuracy of the AI’s answers as the main reason for the new rule, though the standards may undergo revision after further investigation and debate. could change the standards.
OpenAI highlights ChatGPT’s ability to write, edit, and assist with coding on the chatbot’s introductory page, and it’s very easy to generate answers and coding templates with the tool. That simplicity doesn’t mean the answers are accurate, however. The errors may be obvious or subtle, but users can’t assume ChatGPT gets it right immediately. OpenAI cautions users about that as well, but Stack Overflow’s moderators don’t want to see the site flooded with bad answers just because it’s faster to ask an AI than to write out the real answer manually. There were thousands of such posts just since last week when ChatGPT launched, leading to the temporary blanket ban.
“The primary problem is that while the answers which ChatGPT produces have a high rate of being incorrect, they typically look like they might be good and the answers are very easy to produce. There are also many people trying out ChatGPT to create answers, without the expertise or willingness to verify that the answer is correct prior to posting. Because such answers are so easy to produce, a large number of people are posting a lot of answers,” Stack Overflow moderator Maken explained in the announcement. “As such, we need to reduce the volume of these posts and we need to be able to deal with the ones which are posted quickly, which means dealing with users, rather than individual posts. So, for now, the use of ChatGPT to create posts here on Stack Overflow is not permitted. If a user is believed to have used ChatGPT after this temporary policy is posted, sanctions will be imposed to prevent users from continuing to post such content, even if the posts would otherwise be acceptable.”
Enthusiasm running ahead of policy is becoming a standard facet of synthetic media engines. OpenAI’s text-to-image tool DALL-E is facing similar bans and hastily constructed rules on stock image servers, and large language models (LLMs) are at the center of a growing debate over practical matters like ownership and credit as well as more philosophical questions about whether AI can make art at all. ChatGPT’s coding ability has to be reliable to be valuable, but the AI can also generate songs, movie scripts, poetry, and other creative products that don’t hinge on questions of truth. Stack Overflow is likely to work up guidelines for ChatGPT well before any of those questions are settled.