(NewsNation) — When 7-year-old Ezra presses the tablet icon, an essential tool for his independence, a computerized voice speaks in the tone and pitch of a little boy. “Cheese, please.”
“I was in tears when I chose his voice type,” said Holly Anderson, her autistic and non-speaking son.
The tablet allows Ezra to express his needs and preferences through software that weaves photographs into text. Communicating in this way is slow and laborious, but it could be completely transformed by her ChatGPT, a new chatbot powered by artificial intelligence.
The advent of advanced AI that appears to be able to write like humans has led to fears of cheating, concerns about plagiarism, and cries of the end of critical thinking.
However, within the disability community, the free and open-source nature of chatbots has generated a lot of hope and excitement. In particular, this new technology gives us the ability to overcome obstacles on our own.
For teens, that might mean writing a resume or cover letter, or asking for advice on how to talk to a girlfriend.
“If he can be on ChatGPT or an AI system and ask questions and figure it out on his own, he’ll be more independent in life,” she said. And especially for those who have been handicapped by many restrictions in the past… this completely levels the playing field.”
Addition of “Fuwa”
From apps that let you create profile pictures to browser extensions that summarize search engine results in paragraphs, a number of artificial intelligence programs have gone mainstream this year.
But ChatGPT stood out thanks to its simple interface and very advanced language framework. It distills the vast amount of information on the Internet into human-like conversations, providing social awareness and even wisdom.
Big Technology Newsletter Writer Alex Kantrowitz said: “Participating in philosophical debates and useful in practical matters. And each one is amazingly good.”
The way ChatGPT mimics a polite human conversation excites Fiona Given, a lawyer and researcher at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. She uses a speech device because of her cerebral palsy, and on average she can only speak about 18 words per minute.
“I’m saving words because of the effort required to craft the message,” Given said. “As a result, we leave out the soft parts of the language, so we end up talking half the story or shorthand. This can lead to broken communication and broken relationships.”
People playing with ChatGTP have already demonstrated its ability to add its “fluffy words” to written words such as emails and school reports. It’s clearly the next step, said Given.
“It also helps give detailed instructions directly to support workers, such as how to help them take a shower or how to cook their favorite dishes,” says Given. “By the time I type a message, the conversation is often well underway. AI technology could help me participate more actively.”
ChatGPT is currently free and open source, but needs a developer to adapt to technology currently on the market.
According to Kara Ayers of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Cincinnati, that can create hurdles to access, such as higher costs and the need for insurance.
Ayers is also a parent and uses a wheelchair. Banning AI software outright from schools, workplaces, or government agencies would be shortsighted, she said, and she predicts that AI software will become as essential as search engines.
That means it’s imperative that developers consider how people with disabilities will use it.
“People think there’s this kind of brigade of people[people with disabilities]waiting for help,” she said. Until then, we may consider ChatGPT as a bridge.”
Yet its bridging nature leads to the author’s core problem. What does it mean to co-create with a computer that thinks faster and knows more than you do? What does it mean if you can’t tell?
“It definitely makes me more productive[using ChatGPT],” said Given, adding that the world often misses out on the unique insights and experiences of people with disabilities. “But it is really important that people with disabilities edit[the output]so that it is in our own words.”