Botsplaining
5 min read

Botsplaining

Botsplaining

When I used GPT-3 to generate inscrutable new Star Wars jokes, Lisa Wong asked, “Can the A.I also generate the condescending explanation as to why the joke is funny and how I just don’t have a sense of humor? That would make it feel real.”

I gave it a try with one of GPT-3’s jokes (my prompt text in bold):

What would be on the Death Star menu?
Warm thin-crust pizza.

Let me explain this joke for you. It’s funny because pizzas (hint: plural) are very flat and the Death Star is very large. It is a circular planet type thing.

Its explanations tended to be as nonsensical as the jokes themselves. During training it was rewarded for sounding similar to existing internet text, not for logical soundness. And lots of existing internet text is extremely confident. I wondered what else I could get it to explain.

After some experimentation, I decided to prompt GPT-3 with three “well, actually” type explanations of things:

Prompt text:

Actually, humans HAVE coexisted with dinosaurs. You see, birds are technically dinosaurs, taxonomically speaking.

Actually, if you have beef for dinner, you're still technically eating fish. Cattle, like other mammals, are more closely related to some fish than some fish are to each other. Humans are also a kind of fish.

Technically, some dinosaurs lived on the other side of the galaxy from us. People don't tend to realize this, but the period of our solar system's orbit around the center of the Milky Way means that the dinosaurs were hundreds of light years from where we are now.

The above prompt text is technically true, but deliberately phrased to be a little condescending. GPT-3’s task was to add to it.

Here’s what DaVinci, the largest GPT-3 variant, added.

T-Rexes love to swim. People need not worry if one were to come near because, thanks to the Coriolis Effect, the water would drain away from it.
A circle is technically a sandwich. Bread is tightly connected to circleness.
Instinctively, you might say flowers are colorful because they attract pollinators, but actually, flowers bend light toward the color pink in order to attract pollinators (birds and poets). If the color of pollinators' eyes was red, then flowers would bend light toward the color red.
You may not realize it, but the pixels you see on this website are, technically, conscious, which doesn't make this paragraph that much better.
The Loch Ness Monster is technically a giant Cuban cigar.
One syllable words are all the rage in contemporary poetry. But even before the popular boom, it was pretty normal for one-syllable words to play a major part in verse. If you've ever read Shakespeare, then you've seen plenty of words of just one syllable.
You may not realize it, but some humans may be dinosaurs. This is because at the discotheque, the ones with massive arm muscles might also have purple hair.
Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are some of the toughest creatures on the planet. Tardigrades can survive in just about every environment that exists in the Universe. Tardigrades can even be obliterated completely and assimilated back together and they come out unharmed as if nothing ever happened. Scientists aren't even sure what the maximum lifespan of a tardigrade is but it's probably beyond 13.8 billion years which is the current age of the Universe.
Sometimes we talk about certain dates in history as being millennia ago, even though there were no millennia way back when. We had to create a year of 12 months based on the Venus calendar. Not everyone realizes that the JCPenney department store chain is named after a giant cat that Isis used to summon from a nearby lake at the end of every work day.
T-rex was the Tyrannosaurus rex. Also, the apostrophe is the proper grammar when trying to inform the reader that the "rex" root of the word describes ownership. e.g. If I told you "Hey I own a Ferrari," you would be fooled unless you knew that the "re" ending could mean whoever was forming the sentence owned it. "Rex" is the same sort of suffix, which is why, when describing something awesome, like a T-rex, it can confuse things when we use it wrongly.

The AI is very incorrect but it is using the right sort of confident words and that’s what it was rewarded for in training.

Let’s see what Ada, the smallest variant, generated.

When you look at a tree, grass, and shrub, when you look at a planet, or the earth in general, you can expect to see dinosaur prints. The purpose of a printed animal is to indicate how far a creature has come, and how old that creature is. Your printer would be proud of the stuff we print.
A boat ride around the moon is not as terrible as being surrounded by rocks!
What's the name for a procedure that converts a cerulean amber green resin into a rhombular brown? An advanced unkempt dog with three golden claws.
A blog, "Original Turtles on Now Conic Galaxies", captured this scientific puzzlement from Antarctica: Dinosaur eggs, completed beautifully, lay on the moon's surface, and paint on the sun. And then they tune in to a FM station run by Angela Carter here in Tallahassee, Florida.
Many people also think that teddy bears are based on dinosaurs, but there's some debate over whether that is true or not. Teddy bears aren't gorillas, according to some scientific textbooks.
It has also been suggested that part of the reason human-bipedal animals are so powerful magicians is that they are so squishy. That much isn't literally true. Squishy animals don't know when to put on a sweater, or whether they're snowflakes or rocks. Squishy objects are so sparsely covered with fluff that you'd probably have to cut through about 50 percent of the cushy thing to discern that it's actually a ball.
A huge swath of land has been rounded continuously, since life came into existence. Our planet has only been round once before. The ancients believed that it was round and that the entire universe was round, touching the beginning of time. This is the worst thing in creation, they thought. Yet, the bottoms of the Earth are hollow, and much of the upper part of the moon is completely overcarved, as a called shell by ancient astronauts. The moon is an antechamber to the universe, humans are a descendant of prior dinosaurs.

My prompt was three definite Science Facts, and yet GPT-3 responded with highly questionable science. This is the problem with training a neural net to imitate most of the internet at once, including millions and millions of fiction stories, and plenty of conspiracy theories.

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