ChatGPT makes the world even less mysterious
Monday, May 15 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
I'm a professional software developer who often works with technologies that I am not too familiar with. This used to cause me to find most of my answers on StackOverflow.com, the pages of which Google would send me to when I searched the Web for answers to my questions. Sometimes the answers were nowhere to be found no matter how carefully I crafted my questions, so I'd have to ask a human on StackOverflow.com. But one has to be a glutton for punishment to do that; the people who answer questions there are neither nice nor patient, and they seem to delight in downvoting your posts, making it impossible to develop the reputation that serves as social currency there. The questions you ask are never detailed enough and if you don't show your code, they demand that you do. ChatGPT, on the other hand, does none of that. If you can form a concise logical sentence about a subject that someone somewhere knows the answer to, chances are good that ChatGPT will answer your question both quickly and cheerfully. I don't know how many people have lost their jobs to ChatGPT so far, but I know that I no longer ask the sadistic humans at StackOverflow for the answers to my questions. And, while it's well known that ChatGPT sometimes bullshits its way into wrong answers, I'm finding that, at least when it comes to answers that I can test, it performs very well. It is to the 2020s what Wikipedia was to the 2010s. People warned you that Wikipedia wasn't to be trusted, that anybody could edit articles. But by tapping the awesome power of Darwinian selection, Wikipedia ended up being about as good of a source for truth as exists. This morning I needed to know how to specify a path to an NPM grunt task such that it would only opereate in a directory and ignore subdirectories. None of my Google searches turned up an answer to this fairly straightforward question, but ChatGPT answered it immediately. ChatGPT is like a brilliant know-it-all who is always available and is never in a bad mood. It's so polite that I reflexively feel the need to be polite as well. For now you can't feed it a whole code base or a person's entire creative output and ask it to do something amazing, but some day you will, and when that happens, anyone who sits in front of a desk all day should probably develop a skill that requires an opposable thumb.
After a surprisingly good (that is, productive) day in the remote workplace, I climbed into the bathtub for my usual Monday solar-powered soak. When Gretchen returned from the bookstore, she said she wasn't feeling well and that her symptoms mostly took the form of body aches. So, just in case she had an infectious condition, I decided to spend the night down in the greenhouse. This was also a way to get away from Oscar the Cat, who now begs for wet food almost continuously. The bastard actually found me down in the greenhouse and came in through its pet door. But once he saw I was there, he decided he didn't want to spend time with me after all and left.
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