ChatGPT’s Mind-Boggling Responses to Ten Unanswerable Questions
In 2013, I wrote a column titled “10 Unanswerable Questions that Neither Science nor Religion can Answer.” For the past 10 years, it has been my most popular column, and I have developed a cult following, of sorts, around the topic of unanswerable questions.
With the growing popularity of ChatGPT, I decided to conduct an online interview with the AI engine and see how it would answer the original list of unanswerable questions.
I should note that most answers begin with a qualifying statement or disclaimer such as “this is a topic of ongoing debate among scientists,” to help put the certainty of the response into perspective.
For those of you not familiar with ChatGPT, I began the interview with three background questions to set the stage.
What is the history of the ChatGPT project?
ChatGPT is a project developed by OpenAI, a leading artificial intelligence research lab. The project is based on the GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) model, which was first introduced in 2018. The original GPT model was trained on a massive dataset of text from the internet and was able to generate human-like text by predicting the next word in a given sentence.
Following the release of the original GPT model, OpenAI continued to improve and refine the model, releasing several updated versions, such as GPT-2 and GPT-3, that were trained on even larger datasets and achieved even higher levels of accuracy and fluency.
In addition to being used for natural language processing tasks such as text generation and language translation, GPT models like ChatGPT are also used in a variety of other applications, including question-answering, text summarization, and conversation generation.
As of 2021, OpenAI has released GPT-3 and GPT-3 based models like DialoGPT and ChatGPT, which are considered state-of-the-art language models and have been used in a variety of industries such as language translation, question answering, and customer service.
Who was the founder of ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a project developed by OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research lab, which was founded by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, Wojciech Zaremba, and Adam D’Angelo. The project is based on the GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) model, which was first introduced in 2018.
Are there any fact-checkers to verify that everything written by ChatGPT is correct?
ChatGPT is a language model that is trained on a large dataset of text from the internet. It uses this data to generate text that is similar to the text it has seen during training. However, the model is not able to fact-check the information it generates, and it may produce content that is not accurate or contains errors. It is the responsibility of the user to verify any information generated by the model to ensure its accuracy before using it. Some of the latest models like GPT-3 based models like DALL·E and GPT-3 have a feature that allows the user to check whether the generated text is factually correct or not using OpenAI’s “DALL-E 2” which is a fact-checking model. But still, it’s important to verify the information generated by these models.
Ten Unanswerable Questions
Here are the original ten unanswerable questions, followed by ChatGPT’s response.
1. Why is there an exception to every rule?
The saying “there’s an exception to every rule” is often used to express that rules are not absolute and that there are always exceptions to them. It is often used to convey the idea that rules are not always applicable or that they can be subject to change or exceptions.
One reason for exceptions to rules is that rules are often created to reflect general patterns or trends, but they do not account for every possible situation. For example, a rule such as “don’t speed” is designed to keep people safe on the road, but there may be exceptions, such as when a person is rushing to the hospital in an emergency.
Another reason for exceptions to rules is that rules are often created by human beings, and humans are not perfect. People may make mistakes, misunderstand situations or overlook certain factors when creating rules. Therefore, exceptions are sometimes necessary to correct these mistakes or to take into account new information or circumstances.
Lastly, rules are often created based on certain assumptions or conditions and when these change, the rules may no longer be applicable. For example, a rule that worked well in the past may no longer be relevant in the present or future.
In conclusion, the saying “there’s an exception to every rule” highlights the idea that rules are not absolute and that there are always exceptions to them, whether it is due to the limitations of the rules, the imperfections of the creators, or the changing circumstances.
2. Why do logic and reason fail to explain that which is true?
Logic and reason are tools that can be used to evaluate the truth of statements, but they are not infallible. They can be used to draw conclusions that are not true if the premises on which the reasoning is based are false or if the reasoning is flawed. Additionally, there are some things that may be true but cannot be fully explained or understood through logic and reason alone, such as certain aspects of personal experience or subjective phenomena.
3. Is the universe finite or infinite?
The question of whether the universe is finite or infinite is a topic of ongoing debate among cosmologists and physicists. The currently accepted scientific theory is that the universe is infinite, based on the observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation and the large-scale structure of the universe. The current leading theory of cosmology, known as the Lambda-CDM model, also predicts that the universe is infinite and that it is expanding at an accelerating rate. However, it’s worth noting that these models are based on certain assumptions and measurements that have some level of uncertainty. Some alternative theories propose that the universe is finite, and it’s an open question that is under ongoing research.
4. Why does anything exist?
The question of why anything exists, also known as the “why is there something rather than nothing?” question, is a topic of debate among philosophers, scientists, and theologians. There is no definitive answer to this question, as different perspectives and fields of study offer different explanations.
One perspective is that the existence of something is a fundamental aspect of the nature of the universe and that there is no need for an explanation.
Another perspective is that the existence of something can be explained through science, specifically through the laws of physics and the events that occurred during the Big Bang. This event marked the birth of the universe as we know it.
Others propose that the existence of something may be explained through the existence of a God or other supernatural force who created the universe.
Other philosophers and scientists propose that the question is unanswerable or meaningless because existence is a precondition for any question or explanation.
It’s worth noting that all these explanations are based on certain assumptions, and the question of why anything exists remains one of the biggest unsolved problems in philosophy and science.
5. Why does time exist?
The question of why time exists is a topic of debate among philosophers, scientists, and cosmologists. There is no one definitive answer to this question, as different perspectives and fields of study offer different explanations.
One perspective is that time is a fundamental aspect of the nature of the universe and that there is no need for an explanation. Time is seen as a dimension, like space, in which events occur.
Another perspective is that time can be explained through the laws of physics. In particular, the theory of special and general relativity proposed by Einstein explains how time and space are intimately linked and that time can be affected by the presence of matter and energy.
Others propose that the existence of time may be explained through the existence of a God or other supernatural force who created the universe and also time.
It’s worth noting that all these explanations are based on certain assumptions, and the question of why time exists remains one of the biggest unsolved problems in philosophy and science. Some theories, such as the concept of eternalism and presentism in the philosophy of time, attempt to explain the natur of time, but the are still subject of ongoing research and debate.
6. Why do humans matter?
The question of why humans matter is a topic of debate among philosophers, scientists, and theologians. There is no one definitive answer to this question, as different perspectives and fields of study offer different explanations.
One perspective is that humans matter because they possess certain characteristics, such as consciousness, self-awareness, and the ability to reason, that set them apart from other forms of life on Earth.
Another perspective is that humans matter because they have the ability to shape the world around them and make a positive impact on the planet and other living beings. Humans also have the ability to create culture, science, art, and technology that can improve the human experience and the future of humanity.
Others propose that the existence of humans may be explained through the existence of a God or other supernatural force who created the universe and gave a special purpose or role for humans.
Others may argue that humans do not matter in the grand scheme of things and that the universe will continue to exist and evolve regardless of human existence.
It’s worth noting that all these explanations are based on certain assumptions and the question of why humans matter remains a subject of ongoing debate in different fields of study.
7. Why are humans so fallible?
Humans are fallible, meaning they are capable of making mistakes and errors for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include:
- Limited knowledge and understanding: Humans have limited access to information and understanding of the world around them, which can lead to errors in judgment and decision-making.
- Emotions and biases: Humans are influenced by their emotions and biases, which can lead to irrational or illogical thinking and decision-making.
- : Humans are complex beings, and the world around them is complex, which can lead to misinterpretation of information and misunderstandings.
- Evolutionary factors: Humans have evolved to be good at solving certain types of problems but not others, and this can lead to fallibility in certain areas.
- Societal and environmental factors: The society and environment in which humans live can also affect their fallibility by shaping their beliefs, values, and understanding of the world.
It’s worth noting that fallibility is a natural and intrinsic part of being human, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s also important to remember that fallibility can also be overcome and mitigated through education, self-awareness, and critical thinking.
8. Do human accomplishments have long-term meaning?
The question of whether human accomplishments have long-term meaning is a topic of debate among philosophers, scientists, and theologians. Different perspectives and fields of study offer different opinions on this question.
One perspective is that human accomplishments do have long-term meaning because they contribute to the advancement of human knowledge and understanding and can improve the human experience and the future of humanity. This includes achievements in science, technology, medicine, engineering, art, culture, and many other fields.
Another perspective is that human accomplishments may be limited in their long-term meaning because they are often temporary or subject to change. They can be affected by various factors, such as natural disasters, war, human error, and technological obsolescence.
Others propose that the long-term meaning of human accomplishments can be found in the context of a greater spiritual or cosmic purpose and that they reflect the actions of a higher power.
On the other hand, some argue that human accomplishments may not have any long-term meaning because they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The universe will continue to exist and evolve regardless of human existence.
It’s worth noting that all these explanations are based on certain assumptions, and the question of whether human accomplishments have long-term meaning remains a subject of ongoing debate in different fields of study.
9. Why is the future unknowable?
The future is uncertain because it is influenced by a large number of complex and interconnected variables, many of which are difficult to predict or control. Additionally, even with perfect information about all of the variables that might influence an event, it is still difficult to make accurate predictions about the future due to the complexity of the systems involved. Furthermore, human decision-making and actions can also change the course of the future, which makes it hard to predict with certainty.
10. What is the purpose of death?
The purpose of death is a topic of much debate and speculation. From a biological perspective, death serves as a way to control population growth and to allow for the evolution of new species. From a spiritual or philosophical perspective, death may be seen as a transition to a new state of being or as a way to achieve enlightenment or spiritual growth. Some people believe that death is necessary to make room for new life and new generations and that it is a natural part of the cycle of life and death. Ultimately, the purpose of death is a deeply personal and subjective question that may be different for each individual.
To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the answers. No, it was not able to fully answer the questions, but quite often, having someone elaborate on the issues surrounding the question is quite helpful.
From my perspective, ChatGPT is a great tool for creating a starting point. Any writer that starts with GPT’s initial draft will be able to produce a far better document in the end.