ELIZA – The Chatbot That Started It All.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading recently to prepare for BiZ Gear Up on the 24th, and part of that led me to read a bit more about the early history of chatbots – I hope you’ll enjoy this one!

We take a brief moment to move away from the hype that is OpenAI‘s ChatGPT, and take a brief intermission as we make a small trip back in time.

Picture this: it’s the year 1966, and a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory named Joseph Weizenbaum has just created something remarkable – the world’s very first chatbot: ELIZA.

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Image credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Just consider this example of a conversation from Norbert Landsteiner’s 2005 implementation of ELIZA, and you can see what it was capable of.

ELIZA was designed to simulate conversation by responding to typed text with pre-programmed phrases and questions.

But what made ELIZA so special was that it was programmed to mimic the conversational style of a therapist, in particular a Rogerian therapist.

Users could “talk” to ELIZA about their problems and concerns, and the chatbot would respond with empathetic and non-judgmental phrases like “Tell me more about that” or “How does that make you feel?”

It wasn’t just a simple question-and-answer program – it was designed to provide a sense of emotional support and understanding that reflects interestingly on the ways that people derive comfort from self-affirmation.

Weizenbaum didn’t intend for the chatbot to be taken very seriously, calling it a “parody” in his 1976 book “Computer Power and Human Reason”… But the way that the chatbot was received was far from just a parody.

The response to ELIZA was overwhelming.

People were fascinated by this new technology that could seemingly understand and respond to their thoughts and emotions, and the program quickly gained popularity as people tried the chatbot.

But perhaps what’s most remarkable about ELIZA is that it wasn’t just a novelty. Weizenbaum’s creation laid the foundation for decades of research in the field of natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

ELIZA was the first chatbot, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last – and its legacy lives on in the many conversational AI programs we use today, in our Bings, Bards, ChatGPTs, Claudes, and the many more that exist and will exist today.

Can’t wait to see what is to come 🙂

ChatGPT Explodes In Malaysia

ChatGPT’s been around for a while, but as I’ve noted, my home country of Malaysia has been a bit slow in dealing with the hype it’s generated…

But that may have changed.

A while ago, I joined ChatGPT Malaysia.

Today, it exploded and hit 1k, and it shows no sign of stopping; the hype is real!!


A mixture of Manglish, an anonymous dude who prompted OpenAI’s ChatGPT with the legendary Manglish prompt, the combined efforts of Kenneth Yu Kern San and Jornes Sim, and, I guess, a huge, huge dose of the wonders of ChatGPT x)

My own small contribution (lol!)

I guess I’ve evolved into the comments guy – take a look here if you want 🙂

Ah, what can I say?

It’s truly fascinating to be at the beginning stage of a revolution.

First off, congrats and creds to Pang for being infinitely better than I am at managing communities at the moment – something I’m definitely looking forward to learning more in the days ahead!!

Second off, I care a lot about the deeper significance of things – and I’m incredibly glad that this is one of the many things that’s starting off AI on the right foot in Malaysia, my home country – where this will go and what will happen I have no idea, but really look forward to watching what the world’s going to bring 🙂

Amongst other things, I guess it’s brought a ChatGPT Plus subscription for which now, in order to sign up, you’ve got to join a waitlist.

Can’t wait to see what’s next, and thank you based Sam Altman and OpenAI for creating this gift to humanity 😛

Till the next one!!!

P.S. Is it too ambik peluang if I tell you that I’m the creator of the “Transforming Your (Creative) Writing With ChatGPT” course on Udemy? 😛

Thanks and till next time!

A Strange War: AI v. AI Detectors

“Upload your essay into Turnitin by 11:59pm on Thursday night?
You meant start the essay at 11:57 then submit it at 11:58, am I right?” — 
Gigachad ChatGPT student.

We begin our discussion by discussing the sweet smell of plagiarism.

It wafts in the air as educators run around like headless chickens, looking here, looking there as they flip through oddly good essays with panicked expressions.

“Was this AI-generated, Bobby?!” says a hapless teacher, staring at a piece of paper that seems curiously bereft of grammatical errors, suspecting that Bobby could never have created something of this caliber.

“No teacher, I just became smart!” Bobby cries, running off into the sunset because he is sad, he is going to become a member of an emo boyband, and he doesn’t want to admit that he generated his homework with ChatGPT.

generated by Midjourney, if that wasn’t obvious

This smell casts fear and trepidation over every single part of our education system, for it threatens to break it; after all, education is special and it is meant to be sacrosanct — after all, is it not the very same system that is designed to teach humans facts and knowledge and above all, to communicate and collaborate to solve the problems of our era with intelligence, initiative, and drive?

It’s unsurprising that the world of education has flipped out over ChatGPT, because artificial intelligence opens up the very real possibility that schools may be unable to detect it.

Fun and games, right? It’s just a bunch of kids cheating on assignments with artificial intelligence? It’s not going to affect the older generation?

As it turns out, no — that’s not the case. I’ll explain why later.

But before that, let’s talk a bit about the part of our education system that AI is threatening: Essay-writing.

If students simply choose to let their work be completed by artificial intelligence and forget all else, that just means that they’ve forgone the education that they’re supposed to have received, thereby crippling them by an act of personal choice, right…?

But each of us has been a student, and if we have children, our children either will be or have been students too; there is a deep emotional connection that stretches across the entire world when it comes to this.

Therefore, when Princeton University CS student Edward Tian swooped in to offer a solution,it’s not all that surprising that the world flipped.

Enter GPTZero.

Humans deserve the truth. A noble statement and a very bold one for a plagiarism detector, but something that’s a little deeper than most of us would probably imagine.

But consider this.

Not everyone who uses AI text is cheating in the sense of doing something that they are not supposed to and thereby violating rules, therefore the word ‘plagiarism detector’ doesn’t quite or always apply here.

This algorithm, as with other algorithms that attempt to detect AI-generated text, is not just a plagiarism detector that merely serves to catch students in petty acts of cheating —it is an AI detector.

An AI Detector At Work.

So how does it work?

GPTZero assigns a likelihood that a particular text is generated by AI by using two measures:

Perplexity, and Burstiness.

Essentially, in more human language than that which was presented on GPTZero’s website, GPTZero says that…

The less random the text (its ‘perplexity’), the more likely it was generated by an AI.

The less that randomness changes throughout time (its ‘burstiness’), the more likely that the text was generated by AI.

Anyway, GPTZero gives each text a score for perplexity and burstiness, and from there, outputs a probability that given sentences of a text were generated by AI, highlighting the relevant sentences, and easily displays the result to the user.

Alright, sounds great!

Does GPTZero deserve the hype, though?

…Does this actually work?

Let’s try it with this pleasant and AI-generated text that is exactly about the importance of hype (lol).

That’s 100% AI-generated and we know that as fact.

…Would we know if we didn’t see it in the ChatGPT terminal window, though?

…Okay, let’s not think about that.

Down the hatch…

…And boom.

As we can see, GPTZero, humanity’s champion, managed to identify that the text that we had generated was written by AI.



I proceeded to rewrite the essay with another AI software.

…After which GPTZero essentially declared:

So nope, GPTZero can’t detect rewritten texts that were generated with AI — which it should be able to if it truly is an *AI* detector in the best sense — and which in turn suggests that the way that it’s been operationalized has yet to allow it to be the bastion protecting humanity from the incursion of robots into our lives.

It’s not that GPTZero — or even OpenAI’s own AI Text Reviewer, amongst a whole panoply of different AI detectors – are bad or poorly operationalized, by any means. Rather, it’s that the operationalization is supremely difficult because the task is punishingly hard, and that we are unlikely to have a tool that can detect AI-generated text 100% unless we perform watermarking (MIT Technology Review) and we would have to use multiple algorithms to be able to detect text, or come up with alternate measures to do so.

An Arms Race between AI Large Language Models (LLMS) and AI Detectors — and why you should care (even if you’re not a student).

As I’ve mentioned, there is an arms race at hand between AI Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, and AI detectors like GPTZero, the consequence of which is likely that the two will compete with one another and each will make progress in its own way, progressing the direction of both technologies forward.

Personally, I think that AI detectors are fighting a losing battle against LLMs for many reasons, but let me not put the cart before the horse — it is a battle to watch, not to predict the outcome of before it’s even begun.

Implications of this strange war:

But why should you care about any of this if you’re not a student? It’s not like you’re going to be looking at essays constantly, right?

Let’s take aside the fact that you’re reading a blog post right now, and let’s also move away purely from the plagiarized essay bit that we’ve been thinking about, as we gravitate towards thinking about how ChatGPT is a language model.

It’s a good bet that you use language everywhere in your life, business, and relationships with other people in order to communicate, coordinate, and everything else.

When we go around on the Internet, it’s not always immediately evident what was AI generated, what was generated by a human or, for that matter, what was inspired by an AI and later followed through by a human.

The whole reason we need something like a plagiarism detector is that we may not even be sure that a particular piece of language (which we most often experience in the form of text) is AI-generated with our own eyes and minds, to the point that we need to literally rely upon statistical patterns in order to evaluate some thing that we are looking at directly in front of us, thereby recruiting our brains as we evaluate the entirety of an output.

The problem is…

Language doesn’t just exist as text.

Language exists as text, yes, but also as speech. Moreover, speech and text are easily convertible to one another — and we know very well what ChatGPT is doing: Generating text.

We now know that there are Text To Speech (TTS) models that generate speech from text. They’re not necessarily all great, but that’s besides the point — it presages the translation from text into voice.

Think about it.

If the voices that are generated by AI become sufficiently realistic-sounding and their intonations (VALL-E, is that you?), how might you know that these voices aren’t real unless there are severe model safeguards that impede the models from functioning as they are supposed to?

Now combine that indistinguishable voice with sophisticated ChatGPT output that can evade any AI detector and in turn may, depending on the features that end up developing, evade your own capacity to tell whether you are even interacting with a human or not.

How would that play out in the metaverse?

How would that play out in the real world, over the phone?

How would you ever know whether anyone that you’re interacting with is real or not? Whether they are sentient?

The battle between AI and AI Detectors is not just a battle over the difference between an A grade and a C grade.

It’s a battle over a future where what’s at stake is identifying what even qualifies as human.

ChatGPT in Teaching And Education: No Cheating Required (Part I – Students)

Victor Tan here in the house hitting you with yet another AI post! Today, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite AI text generator! In case you’ve not heard of ChatGPT just yet for some reason, it’s an AI tool that can generate human-like text based on a given prompt. It’s a variant of the well-known GPT (short for “Generative Pre-training Transformer”) created by OpenAI.

ChatGPT got pretty viral recently because outlets like Forbes and Wall Street Journal have been writing articles about how it’s been generating essays in mere minutes that, if actually submitted, would definitely count as cheating.

Here’s what ChatGPT says about that:

For this reason, ChatGPT’s received a fair bit of bad hype, and people seem confused about whether to accept, ignore, or vehemently reject it… It’s unclear that they know what to do about it.

WIth that in mind, it’s been fascinating to watch the different adaptation strategies of countries to the perceived challenge that ChatGPT has brought to the education system as well.

On one hand, some countries have responded with a strategy of mitigation. The state of New York banned ChatGPT (although how they could enforce it is questionable, considering that it’s possible to use ChatGPT on a home device), Australian universities have reverted to pen and paper exams.

That’s not all too surprising, especially since ChatGPT can definitely be used to cheat. It can write essays in mere seconds, craft grammatically well-structured summaries, and organize information to a dashingly effective degree. The craze has begun for AI writing detectors such as Edward Tian’s GPTZero that have yet to successfully and consistently identify AI generated text with a sufficient degree of accuracy to prevent false accusations: They are generally not very good yet, and an arms race is taking place between these detectors and AI text generators as we speak.

But mitigation is not the only strategy – and in an age where technology moves forward whether we like it or not, it seems to me only magical that is the approach we should pray for is one of adaptation. I believe that this is reflected in the strategy of Singapore, which has moved away from mitigation and more to adaptation, with specific allowances to learn how to ‘properly’ use tools such as ChatGPT.


More about this in my next post!

With that said, if you’re a student, how can ChatGPT save your grades and help you have an easier school life without potentially putting you on the line for an F grade for plagiarism, or on review by a disciplinary committee?

Well, even if you don’t cheat with it, ChatGPT is an incredible tool that will help you move forward with your education in leaps and bounds.

Let me show you how!

ChatGPT can help you ace your studies by helping you to…

  1. Provide explanations and examples:

Struggling with homework? ChatGPT can provide explanations and examples for various concepts, making it a great resource for completing those pesky assignments.

The reason that this is really helpful is that it helps you to contextualize the things that you’re learning rather than leaving them just as words, and to appreciate the connections between concepts and practicalities in a much more concrete way than you would otherwise experience if you were to just hear what the teacher is saying but not absorb it.

Let’s first start with a (very recent) historical example:

As you can see, the example here was well summarized, relatively balanced, and provides relatively factual information about what had happened albeit the matter remains controversial.

Next, here’s an example that might appeal to you future computer scientists, involving a cryptographic concept that I needed to brush up on:

Now that seems rather complicated, so let’s simplify it a bit.

That’s a bit better! You can do this with all sorts of things, so give it a try and see what you can do!

2. Help you to learn new things.

Want to learn more about a new subject? ChatGPT can provide a comprehensive overview, making it an excellent resource for expanding your knowledge.

Also, because it is conversational, you can directly ask ChatGPT to explain certain things that it has raised in previous conversations, which will allow you to naturally understand the context of what you’ve learned about and even expand your learning in these areas.

Here’s an example, featuring the English language 🙂

As you can see, I just had a conversation with ChatGPT, during which I learned a bit about verbs — ChatGPT was able to understand my requests for clarification and, when I asked for assistance in natural language, was able to extend my knowledge by providing me with even more information that I could in turn follow up on.

This is something that I would have found rather difficult to do with Google, as Google would have required me to make sense of the data that I find through the different links that I locate, and additionally impose more time costs on me in the form of time dedicated towards navigation — it is possible to learn and rather efficiently of course, but I would have to give ChatGPT the win in terms of ease of understanding and use here and hope that it shows you how efficiently you can learn with ChatGPT.

That being said, since it can help you learn, it’s only natural that ChatGPT can…

3. Help you to research things

Researching a paper or article? ChatGPT can generate summaries so you can get up to speed quickly and easily, which also means that you’ll be able to use it efficiently in connection with other tools such as search engines like Google in order to effectively research your tasks and plan out the things that you’d like to write for those otherwise arduous and pesky research essays.

Here’s an example, featuring the Napoleonic Wars:

But speaking of the Napoleonic Wars…

4. Providing practice questions:

Need to prepare for an exam? ChatGPT can generate practice questions and provide in-depth explanations for the answers.

Let’s get back to the Napoleonic Wars example for a bit, and you’ll see what I mean.

As you can see, this is tremendously powerful — it is something that you can do with any historical concept or idea, and if you try it out, you’ll understand the sheer power of what it can provide even if you don’t cheat with it.

5. Writing essays:

This is probably the most controversial matter of all, because there is the highest potential for cheating with ChatGPT here.

Still, ChatGPT can generate outlines, intro paragraphs, and body paragraphs, saving you time and effort in the process, by giving you a great starting point to begin your essay.

As you can see, ChatGPT can actually also write the essay for you.

The problem is, this works very well with factual essays, and if you do submit this as it is, it will definitely amount as cheating.

That said, there’s no harm in using AI to give you a sense of how to generate paragraphs, which in turn you can rewrite — I would observe, though, that the types of essays that you can generate well are many, and you can actually change the style of these essays in such a way that you may replicate the writing style of anyone with a significant body of work.

In order to use ChatGPT to improve your writing without cheating, you would have to have a sense of distinct voice and personality and also be able to add in some things to the essay that ChatGPT cannot actually execute on — that is especially relevant with things such as the college essay (I show this in my recent video, in which I wrote every single one of UChicago’s 2022–2023 essay prompts.)

For everything else, however, ChatGPT is generally capable of creating some pretty high quality output and proposing some pretty good essay structures, which can easily create the temptation to use that output vanilla — in other words, to cheat by having an algorithm do the work that you were assigned to do — when in reality, students would benefit more if they integrated their approach by not just relying on the outlines that they receive from this software, but instead also refining their thinking with the insights that arise from it.


As you can see, ChatGPT is tremendously powerful for learning, and it can be used in many ways to help you learn information at a rate that is far greater than that which you might have if you were simply to make use of textbooks or Google to proceed through the slog of learning in a (relatively) unstructured way.

I’d like to concede, as a matter of fact, this post was actually partly generated by AI — but the reason I say partly is that I edited it pretty heavily after making use of the initial framework that it had created in order to elaborate on the different examples and to participate in actually using the software in order to demonstrate what it could do while taking screenshots — something that the AI is incapable of doing at this point in time.

At the same time, though, I must acknowledge that as a language model, ChatGPT is tremendously competent at compiling together summaries, outlines, research, and even writing essays for its users in ways that naturally make it rather tempting for students to cheat with ChatGPT, for the simple reason that it is incredibly easy to do so in lieu of learning with it.


To conclude, I hope that you have enjoyed seeing some of the cool things that you can do with ChatGPT to extend your learning and the things that you can do with it, and that you will make use of it well to improve your life and knowledge.

That said, there is incredible potential within the ChatGPT technology and with AI at large to extend the capability of the human race, but there is equal potential to destroy it, subjugating our innate mental capacities and spirits to the idle temptations of creating and submitting a plagiarized AI essay for an A at the 11th hour and never actually doing the work.

Although cheating of this nature can seem harmless, my innocent musings lead me to wonder if cheating serves as a demonstration of how AI can essentially perform many of the tasks that human beings can do, and how some human beings will merely let them — thereby never ascending beyond their current level and merely allowing technology to resolve their problems either without asserting initiative or abiding poor planning and excuse-making in a realm where the tremendously sophisticated tools now available to us make such excuses effectively invalid.

Which is why, to me, AI seems to offer us two paths in the modern age, which in reality may well be the same path: that which leads to an era of greater learning and extension of our mental capabilities, or that which leads to our treating it merely as a tool to achieve our desired ends, thereby weakening ourselves in the process.

If you are a student, I would say this:

As human beings, I firmly believe we need to be able to double down, accepting what AI can do, and locating the gaps in between which we can find ourselves and locate the possibilities in which we are able to add value — a matter in which it is absolutely necessary to continue to develop ourselves by learning well, thinking critically, and making key decisions in terms of how to develop ourselves as the pace of technological innovation accelerates, and algorithms such as those that power ChatGPT only become increasingly advanced.

Even if there are solutions out there that enable you to pass off AI-generated essays as your own, do consider what you can do if you choose to let AI extend you rather than simply letting it be that which you owe credit to in the course of your academic career and by extension completely replace you in the thinking process; if you accept that without questioning it, fighting it, and growing rather than being subsumed by the tide that underpins it, then I guess you’d understand in that world, then, why I would think that while I feel that robots may not completely replace humans at large, the robots may at least replace you… Unless you let it reinforce your mind, rather than replace it.

As always, I wish for your best as a reader of this blog and as a fellow human being – thank you for reading, and we’ll talk more about the ways that AI can help education as a whole in the next post!