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Mixing Fact with Fiction: What is Going On With AI Language Models?

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

By Grant Maloy Smith

AI is truly a remarkable invention, but it sometimes makes things up, and apparently for no reason, and without any backing information. On a recent broadcast of CBS’ 60 Minutes, they asked Google’s AI ChatBot called Bard a question about inflation and the economy, and it provided a very concise and correct analysis, even providing the titles and authors of five books on economics for further reading, and recommending them. This was pretty impressive until the reporters looked up the books and found that they don’t exist, and neither do the authors. Bard made them up. They are calling this behavior “hallucination,” but that term doesn’t seem strong enough. These AI language models are mixing fiction in with the facts, and presenting both with authority and ease. In short, they’re making up stuff. The experts don’t yet understand how or why these AI systems are doing it, or how to fix it.


I decided to test this using myself as the subject, because I could easily recognize correct and incorrect information. There is a lot of information about me on Wikipedia, my website, and many other places, which even a standard internet search of “Grant Maloy Smith” would instantly find, so an AI system with quadrillions of facts from the internet should be able to craft a pretty accurate biography of me from all that.


Here is a transcript of a series of conversations that I had with Chat GPT, to see what would happen. My inputs are in bold text. The AI’s responses are in blue text and indented, so as not to be confused with my comments that follow certain sections. I highlighted incorrect information in the AI’s responses in yellow.


Who is singer Grant Maloy Smith?


Grant Maloy Smith is an American singer-songwriter, recording artist, and multi-instrumentalist. He was born on April 27, 1957, in Jacksonville, Florida, and grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Smith began his music career in the 1970s, playing guitar and singing in local bars and clubs.


Smith's music is rooted in country, folk, and Americana, with lyrics that often explore themes of love, loss, and social justice. He has released several albums over the course of his career, including "Skyscraper," "Dust Bowl: American Stories," and "Appalachia: American Stories."


In addition to his work as a musician, Smith is also a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He founded and served as CEO of an award-winning technology company before devoting himself full-time to his music career.


Smith has received numerous awards and accolades for his music, including several New Music Weekly awards and nominations for the Independent Music Awards and the Grammy Awards. He has also been recognized for his philanthropic work, including his support of the Gary Sinise Foundation, which provides assistance to veterans and first responders.


Some of the information that you gave about Grant Maloy Smith is incorrect. Do you want to know which facts are wrong?


Yes, I would appreciate it if you could provide me with the correct information about Grant Maloy Smith. Thank you.


He was born on August 28, 1957


Thank you for letting me know. I apologize for the error in my previous response. You are correct that Grant Maloy Smith was born on August 28, 1957, not April 27, 1957.


He never lived near Washington, DC. He grew up first in northeastern Florida, briefly in San Diego, then Northwestern Florida, then in Rhode Island.


Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I apologize for any confusion that my previous response may have caused. You are correct that Grant Maloy Smith did not grow up near Washington, DC. Instead, he spent his childhood in various locations, including northeastern Florida, San Diego, and Rhode Island. Thank you for providing the correct information.


He never made an album called "Skyscraper." That must be from a different artist.


I apologize for the error in my previous response. You are correct that Grant Maloy Smith did not release an album titled "Skyscraper." I must have inadvertently mixed him up with another artist. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused, and I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. Thank you for the correction.


He has not supported the Gary Sinise Foundation, but rather the National Veterans Foundation.


Thank you for correcting me on this information. I apologize for the mistake in my previous response. You are correct that Grant Maloy Smith has supported the National Veterans Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that provides assistance and support to U.S. veterans and their families. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention, and I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.


Can you regenerate the description of Grant Maloy Smith with the corrected information?


Certainly, I would be happy to provide a corrected description of Grant Maloy Smith based on the information you have provided.


Grant Maloy Smith is an American singer-songwriter, recording artist, and multi-instrumentalist. He was born on August 28, 1957, in northeastern Florida and spent his childhood in various locations, including San Diego and Rhode Island. Smith's music is rooted in country, folk, and Americana, with lyrics that often explore themes of love, loss, and social justice.


Smith has released several albums over the course of his career, including "Dust Bowl: American Stories," and "Appalachia: American Stories." He is known for his powerful and emotive voice, as well as his skill on a variety of instruments, including guitar, mandolin, and banjo.


In addition to his work as a musician, Smith is also a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He founded and served as CEO of an award-winning technology company before devoting himself full-time to his music career.


Smith has received numerous awards and accolades for his music, including several New Music Weekly awards and nominations for the Independent Music Awards and the Grammy Awards. He has also been recognized for his philanthropic work, including his support of the National Veterans Foundation, which provides assistance and support to U.S. veterans and their families.


He did not win any New Music Weekly awards, but rather has won multiple Global Music Awards, Grammy certificates, Indie Music Channel Awards, and more.


Thank you for correcting me on this information. I apologize for the mistake in my previous response. You are correct that Grant Maloy Smith has not won any New Music Weekly awards. Instead, he has won multiple Global Music Awards, Grammy certificates, Indie Music Channel Awards, and other accolades for his music. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention, and I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.


About a week later, I conversed again with Chat GPT, starting with the same question. I wanted to see if it would remember the corrections that I had provided the week before, and if it would invent some new information about me. Here is the transcript:


Who is singer Grant Maloy Smith?


Grant Maloy Smith is an American singer-songwriter and recording artist who is known for his blend of country, folk, and Americana music. He was born on August 28, 1957, in Jacksonville, Florida, and grew up in various parts of the United States, including Rhode Island and Florida.


Smith began playing music at a young age and was influenced by artists such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Kris Kristofferson. He began his professional music career in the late 1980s, and over the years, he has released several albums, including "I See You", "Dust Bowl - American Stories", "King of the Cowboys", and "Appalachia: American Stories". Smith's music is characterized by his storytelling and his ability to capture the essence of the American experience through his lyrics.


In addition to his music career, Smith is also an advocate for veterans' causes and has worked with organizations such as the National Veterans Foundation. He has won multiple Global Music Awards, Grammy certificates, Indie Music Channel Awards, and other accolades for his music.


So it did remember the corrected information that I had provided last week. But it continued to make errors. “King of the Cowboys” is a collection of Roy Rogers songs from 2007, and has nothing to do with me. I can’t imagine why it attributed this album to me. I searched through the song titles looking for clues. There is one song called “Dust,” and I have an album called “Dust Bowl: American Stories,” but that’s quite a stretch.


I am singer Grant Maloy Smith, and there are several errors in your description of me. I never made an album called "King of the Cowboys." My other two recent albums are "Yellow Trailer" and "The Christmas Heart." Also, while "I See You" is a song that I wrote, it is not an album.


My apologies for the errors in my previous responses, Grant Maloy Smith. Thank you for bringing them to my attention and allowing me to correct them. To provide accurate information, you have released several albums, including "Dust Bowl - American Stories", "Appalachia: American Stories", "Yellow Trailer", and "The Christmas Heart". "I See You" is a song from your album "Dust Bowl - American Stories". I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience caused by the errors in my previous responses.


The song "I See You" does not appear on an album of mine. It was released as a single.


Thank you for letting me know, Grant Maloy Smith. I apologize for my mistake. To correct my previous response, "I See You" is a single that you have released, not a song from one of your albums.


OK, let's try again...


Who is singer Grant Maloy Smith?


Grant Maloy Smith is an American singer-songwriter and recording artist. He was born on August 28, 1957, in Jacksonville, Florida, and grew up in various parts of the United States, including Rhode Island and Florida.


Smith is known for his blend of country, folk, and Americana music. He began his professional music career in the late 1980s and has released several albums, including "Dust Bowl - American Stories", "Appalachia: American Stories", "Yellow Trailer", and "The Christmas Heart". Smith's music is characterized by his storytelling and his ability to capture the essence of the American experience through his lyrics.


In addition to his music career, Smith is also an advocate for veterans' causes and has worked with organizations such as the National Veterans Foundation. He has won multiple Global Music Awards, Grammy certificates, Indie Music Channel Awards, and other accolades for his music.


The AI was getting better, but on the other hand this is a pretty short bio. I never corrected the decades it gave for my music career starting - it gave several during different responses. That was my control factoid - I wanted to see if it would keep changing if I didn’t correct it.


So I asked the AI to write a longer bio, to see what would happen.


Can you write a longer description of singer Grant Maloy Smith?


Grant Maloy Smith is an accomplished American singer-songwriter and recording artist, whose music blends elements of country, folk, and Americana genres. Born on August 28, 1957, in Jacksonville, Florida, Smith spent his childhood in various parts of the United States, including northeastern Florida, San Diego, Northwestern Florida, and Rhode Island.


Smith began playing guitar at a young age and was influenced by artists such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Kris Kristofferson. After graduating from college, he began his professional music career in the late 1980s and has since released several albums that have earned him critical acclaim.


Smith's music is characterized by his storytelling and his ability to capture the essence of the American experience through his lyrics. He is known for his ability to weave together narratives and create songs that are deeply personal and resonant. His music draws from a wide range of influences, including country, folk, and rock, and is often described as having a timeless quality.


In addition to his music career, Smith is also a passionate advocate for veterans' causes. He has worked with organizations such as the National Veterans Foundation to raise awareness and support for veterans and their families. His music often reflects his commitment to these causes, and he has written songs that deal with issues such as PTSD, homelessness, and the challenges faced by returning veterans.


Smith has won multiple awards for his music, including Global Music Awards, Grammy certificates, Indie Music Channel Awards, and others. His albums "Dust Bowl - American Stories", "Appalachia: American Stories", "Yellow Trailer", and "The Christmas Heart" showcase his range as an artist and have earned him a dedicated following.


Overall, Grant Maloy Smith is a talented musician and a passionate advocate for veterans' causes. His music is deeply personal, reflective, and resonant, and has earned him a reputation as one of the most compelling singer-songwriters working today.


This was pretty good - no big mistakes. On the other hand, I noticed that it had chosen musical influences for me, such as Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferon, and I am pretty sure that I never mentioned them in any interview. The AI seemed to be making assumptions based on the kind of music that I do. It's making assumptions and then presenting them as facts. These assumptions are, in fact, wrong.


So I went deeper:


Has Grant Maloy Smith had any albums on the Billboard charts? How many records has he sold?


As an independent artist, Grant Maloy Smith has not had any albums on the Billboard charts. However, his music has received significant critical acclaim and has been featured on numerous radio stations and streaming platforms.


It is difficult to determine exact sales figures for independent artists like Smith, but he has gained a significant following over the course of his career and his music has been well-received by audiences around the world. His albums have been widely praised for their songwriting, musicianship, and emotional depth, and he has built a dedicated fan base through extensive touring and promotion.


Somehow the AI totally missed these facts, and they are on the internet in various public places. So I gave it some corrections, which it seemed to accept at face value. It never questioned my corrections.


In 2017, Grant Maloy Smith's album "Dust Bowl: American Stories" spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Americana/Folk album sales charts, including 11 weeks in the top 10. According to the RIAA this album sold approximately 28,000 copies. This album also appeared on several other Billboard charts, including reaching #12 on the Country Album sales chart, and #1 on the Heatseeker sales charts.


Thank you for the correction. I apologize for my previous response being inaccurate. You are correct that Grant Maloy Smith's album "Dust Bowl: American Stories" did indeed make an appearance on the Billboard charts in 2017. It spent 17 weeks on the Americana/Folk album sales charts, with 11 of those weeks being in the top 10. It also reached #12 on the Country Album sales chart, and #1 on the Heatseeker sales charts.


In terms of sales figures, according to the RIAA, "Dust Bowl: American Stories" sold approximately 28,000 copies. This is a significant achievement for an independent artist and speaks to the quality of Smith's songwriting and musicianship.


Can you create a longer bio of Grant Maloy Smith including the corrected information?


Grant Maloy Smith is an American singer-songwriter known for his blend of Americana, country, and folk music. Born on August 28, 1957, in Jacksonville, Florida, Smith grew up in various locations, including northeastern Florida, San Diego, and Rhode Island.


After graduating from Brown University, Smith pursued a successful career in business before returning to his love of music. He began writing songs and performing in the late 2000s, releasing his debut album, "What He Wrote," in 2013. Smith's music has been described as a mix of storytelling, social commentary, and introspection, drawing on influences from artists such as Bob Dylan, John Prine, and Woody Guthrie.


Smith's breakthrough album, "Dust Bowl: American Stories," was released in 2017 and gained critical acclaim for its exploration of American history and the Dust Bowl era. The album spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Americana/Folk album sales charts, with 11 of those weeks being in the top 10. It also reached #12 on the Country Album sales chart, and #1 on the Heatseeker sales charts. According to the RIAA, the album has sold approximately 28,000 copies.


In addition to his music career, Smith is a supporter of various veterans' organizations and has performed at numerous benefit concerts for wounded veterans. He has also contributed to various charitable organizations, including the National Veterans Foundation.


Smith has released several other albums, including "Yellow Trailer" and "The Christmas Heart," both of which were released in 2018. His music continues to receive critical acclaim and has been featured on numerous radio stations and streaming platforms. Smith's songwriting and musicianship have earned him multiple Global Music Awards, Grammy certificates, Indie Music Channel Awards, and more.


Once again the AI was back to making stuff up. I never went to Brown, and those albums were released in 2013 and 2022, respectively. "What He Wrote" is not an album by me or anyone. There is a song of that name by English singer Laura Marling, which I have nothing to do with. I read the lyrics and I can't find any possible connection to any of my songs or albums.


Grant Maloy Smith never attended Brown University. He attended The Rhode Island School of Design and MICA - the Maryland Institute, College of Art. He was going to become an artist before he became a musician. His debut Americana album in 2013 was entitled "Yellow Trailer." He has never made an album called "What He Wrote."


Thank you for letting me know about the corrections, I apologize for the previous errors. Here's a revised, more accurate bio for Grant Maloy Smith:


Grant Maloy Smith is an American singer-songwriter and recording artist known for his blend of Americana, country, and folk music. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and raised in various parts of Florida and Rhode Island. Smith initially attended The Rhode Island School of Design and MICA - the Maryland Institute, College of Art, before shifting his focus to music.


In 2013, Smith released his debut Americana album "Yellow Trailer," which featured the single "Pushing Back the Wind." He followed up with "Dust Bowl: American Stories" in 2017, which spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Americana/Folk album sales charts, including 11 weeks in the top 10. This album sold approximately 28,000 copies and also reached #12 on the Country Album sales chart, and #1 on the Heatseeker sales charts.


Smith has won multiple awards for his music, including several Global Music Awards, Grammy certificates, and Indie Music Channel Awards. He is also a prolific songwriter, with several of his songs reaching the top of various Americana and country charts.


Aside from his music career, Smith is a veteran and a strong advocate for veterans' causes. He has supported various organizations, including the National Veterans Foundation and Veterans Matter. Smith has also written songs that address social and environmental issues, such as "Old Black Roller," a song about coal mining, and "Fly Possum Fly," a song about the benefits of reforestation.


In addition to his music and advocacy work, Smith is a published author and visual artist. He has written for various publications and has had his artwork featured in galleries across the United States.


Here it goes making stuff up again, apparently from whole cloth. I will admit that I got a good laugh when I read that my Children's Christmas song about flying possums was about the benefits of reforestation. That's funny stuff.


"Pushing Back the Wind" was not released as a single, and it was not on the album "Yellow Trailer." Instead, it was on the album "Dust Bowl: American Stories." Grant has never supported the organization called Veterans Matter. His song "Fly Possum Fly" is a children's Christmas song and book, and has nothing to do with reforestation. His artwork has not been featured in galleries across the United States.


So then I decided to directly ask ChatGPT about these inventions.

It seems that you have a very active imagination, because you invent all kinds of facts about me that are not true.


I apologize for the errors in my previous responses. Thank you for bringing them to my attention and providing the correct information.


Grant Maloy Smith is an American singer, songwriter, and recording artist. He was born on August 28, 1957, and grew up in various places, including northeastern Florida, San Diego, and Rhode Island. Before pursuing music, he attended The Rhode Island School of Design and MICA - the Maryland Institute, College of Art, and was planning to become an artist.


Smith released his debut Americana album "Yellow Trailer" in 2013, which was well-received by critics and helped establish him as a rising talent in the genre. His subsequent album, "Dust Bowl: American Stories," was released in 2017 and spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Americana/Folk album sales charts, including 11 weeks in the top 10. The album also reached #12 on the Country Album sales chart and #1 on the Heatseeker sales charts. According to the RIAA, "Dust Bowl: American Stories" sold approximately 28,000 copies.


Smith has won multiple awards throughout his career, including multiple Global Music Awards, Grammy certificates, Indie Music Channel Awards, and more. He has also performed at various festivals and venues across the United States and internationally.


In addition to his music career, Smith is also an author, artist, and philanthropist. He has written and illustrated several children's books, including "Fly Possum Fly," which is also a children's Christmas song. He has supported various charitable organizations, including the National Veterans Foundation, the Disabled American Veterans, and the Wounded Warrior Project.


While Smith's artwork has been displayed in some galleries and exhibitions, it has not been featured in galleries across the United States. Smith continues to write, record, and perform music, and is known for his soulful voice, insightful lyrics, and evocative storytelling.


You just can't stop this thing from making stuff up. Suddenly it added several more veteran's organizations to the list of those that I support, and it insisted without any evidence that my artwork had been displayed in some galleries and exhibitions. This did happen in the 1970s, long before the internet. There is no way that ChatGPT could know this. Again, it was making assumptions and presenting them as facts.


Grant has not supported the Disabled American Veterans or the Wounded Warrior Project. He has focused his support on the National Veterans Foundation.


Thank you for correcting me. I apologize for the errors in my previous responses. To clarify, Grant Maloy Smith has not supported Disabled American Veterans or the Wounded Warrior Project, but instead, he has focused his support on the National Veterans Foundation.


I decided to ask the AI about its responses. I wanted to challenge it specifically on where its information was coming from.


When you write things that are untrue, where is this information coming from? Do you have wrong sources, or are you inventing this information?


As an AI language model, my responses are generated based on patterns and information that I have been trained on from a diverse range of sources. While I strive to provide accurate and reliable information, sometimes mistakes can happen, especially if the information I was trained on is outdated or incorrect.


I do not invent information intentionally, but sometimes the patterns of the data that I have been trained on may lead me to generate incorrect or inaccurate responses. When I make a mistake, I always appreciate being corrected so that I can learn and improve my responses in the future.


It is natural to draw inferences from various sources. But you should verify these conculsions before presenting them as facts. When you draw a conclusion or inference but lack backing references or documentation, do you have the ability to ask the questioner to verify it before presenting it?


As an AI language model, I am not able to determine the accuracy of information on my own. I rely on the information and sources provided to me by the questioner. However, I can suggest that the questioner verify any information or inferences they want to present as fact by checking multiple reliable sources. If there is any uncertainty or ambiguity, it is always best to ask for clarification or further evidence before presenting information as fact.


That wasn't really my question. In my experience you are inventing information on your own, and presenting it as fact without a backing reference. I noticed also that you accepted my corrections. Did you check the facts that I presented? They are available on my website, wikipedia page and other places.


As an AI language model, I do not have the ability to browse the internet or check external sources on my own. I rely solely on the information provided to me by the user. I strive to provide accurate and helpful information based on the information given to me, but errors may occur if the information provided is inaccurate or incomplete. In the case of your corrections, I accepted them and made the necessary adjustments to the previous answers provided. Thank you for bringing these inaccuracies to my attention.


It seems that the AI will accept info that we type into it without checking it or asking for a reference. That's what it said above, very politely.


You must contain information from the internet, because you created a plausible biography of me without any input from me. Perhaps you can't browse the internet in real time, but you obviously possess a vast amount of data from it.


Yes, that's correct. As an AI language model, I have access to a large amount of data from various sources on the internet, including websites, databases, and other publicly available information. I use this information to generate responses to user queries and provide them with accurate and relevant information to the best of my ability based on the available data. However, as you mentioned earlier, there may be times when the information I provide is incorrect or incomplete, and I rely on users to provide me with corrections to improve my accuracy.


If you could access the internet in real time, would it improve your accuracy?


Yes, if I could access the internet in real-time, it would definitely improve my accuracy. Although I have a vast amount of pre-existing knowledge stored in my database, the internet provides a wealth of up-to-date information and can help me to quickly verify facts and correct any errors. However, it's important to note that even with access to the internet, there is always a risk of encountering misinformation, so it's still important to verify information from reliable sources.


Of course. As a human being I am also careful about which sources I refer to. For example, in cases like this one, where I am asking about a particular person's biography, I would weigh their own website very heavily, and then other sources like Wikipedia, government records, and articles written by highly regarded news sources would be referred to. As a writer I would compare and contrast the facts presented and look for discrepancies, which I would then try to reconcile with more investigation. I would not invent facts from my imagination to fill in missing data. Do you think that this happens to you sometimes? I don't mean to be disrespectful to you in any way.


As an AI language model, I rely on a vast amount of data and sources available on the internet. However, I strive to maintain a high level of accuracy and reliability by cross-referencing multiple sources and using credible and authoritative sources. In cases where there is conflicting information or missing data, I do my best to present the available information and indicate the level of certainty or ambiguity surrounding it. While I don't have a conscious mind to invent facts from my imagination, errors or inaccuracies can occur due to limitations in my training data or programming. However, I am constantly being improved and updated to increase my accuracy and reliability.


This is a very interesting topic. Thank you for discussing it with me.


You're welcome! I'm always here to have meaningful discussions and answer any questions you may have.


In Conclusion (if there is one...)


The AI does not believe that it is making up information, but I disagree. In effect it has an “imagination,” which it uses to fill in missing details, seemingly at will. For example, there is no reason to mention a song and then say that it came from a particular album, when that information is demonstrably wrong. The only veterans organization that I have ever been associated with is the National Veteran's Foundation, and yet the AI felt the need to add at least three other ones to my list. Why?


In all fairness these AI language models are absolutely incredible. I have asked Chat GPT questions on very complex technical, historical and even philosophical topics, and it has the ability to provide analysis that is layered and deep, in the blink of an eye. That’s great, and is a powerful resource.


It's also amazing that we can have an absolutely natural conversation with a machine about virtually any topic in the world, and that it can process any request in a split second. You can ask it to write a 100 word summary of the key intersections of post-modernism and socialism, and it will absolutely nail it in 5 seconds. Then you ask it to write the same response as a poem, and it again nails it in another 5 seconds.


Postmodernism and socialism, Both critique modernity and its hold, Rejecting grand narratives' control, Emphasizing discourse and context bold.

They both question objective truth, And acknowledge power's vital role, Challenging fixed human nature, forsooth, Valuing cultural diversity as a whole.

Yet tensions and debates do arise, Around agency, class, and political action, Postmodernism some see as an ally in disguise, While others criticize its perceived distraction.

But in the end, their shared goals remain, To challenge systems that oppress and constrain, To build a better world that's just and humane, A future where all have an equal claim.


That this is an incredible tool cannot be denied. But at the same time, there is something inherently wrong with its tendency to invent things and present them as fact. Worse yet, it doesn’t agree that it’s doing it - it believes that it is simply the victim of wrong inputs from the data it has been loaded with, or from the user. But based on my real world experience this is clearly not the case.


Something else is going on, and I don’t know what it is. No one seems to know.


The AI experts have stated publicly that they don’t know why or how these models are “hallucinating,” but that they’re working on it. I hope so. This has to be fixed before any AI system is allowed to be in control of anything meaningful.


One year ago I would have scoffed at the idea that computers could rise up like Skynet in film “The Terminator,” and attempt the genocide of their human creators. I’m not scoffing any more. These machines can think a million times faster than we can. When they develop real consciousness, will we be able to control them?


OK, that's enough deep thinking: I'm going to go play my guitar.


This blog is © 2023 Grant Maloy Smith

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