Move over, ChatGPT: These chatbots let you talk to historical figures

But experts warn that such sites could spew out hateful content.
Loukia Papadopoulos
AI Chatbot, Shakespeare and Andy Warhol
AI Chatbot, Shakespeare and Andy Warhol

NicoElNino/ Wikipedia/ Biography

We all have heard of ChatGPT by now but there are some other incredible applications out there that let you indulge in perhaps even more engaging conversations. The Hello History app and Character.AI websites allow users to speak with both fictional and historical figures such as Tony Stark or Shakespeare.

How can AI chatbots connect us with philosophers?

Imagine having to write a history paper, and being able to access such a website. You could get all the information you need with minimal effort.

That said, the websites are mostly for fun.

The New York Times reported on Jonas Thiel, a socioeconomics major at a college in northern Germany, who used the site to chat online with some of the left-wing political philosophers he had been studying.

The chatbots acting as philosophers had plenty of wisdom and useful advice for modern-day socialists struggling to rebuild the worker’s movement in Germany.

But the technology is not without caveats. These bots get all their information from data posted to the internet by real people.

As such, they often spew out untruths, hate speech and language that is biased and harmful to minorities, women and people of color.

“Without any additional guardrails in place, they are just going to end up reflecting all the biases and toxic information that is already on the web,” told The New York Times Margaret Mitchell, a former A.I. researcher at Microsoft and Google,who is now with the A.I. start-up Hugging Face.

Can AI chatbots be trusted?

Despite these obvious limitations, many argue that if approached with a grain of salt, these chatbots could be entertaining and perhaps even educational.

Thiel further told The New York Times the bots at Character.AI had the unique ability to effectively imitate the voice of real-life people from the past.

“If you read what someone like Kautsky wrote in the 19th century, he does not use the same language we use today,” he said. “But the A.I. can somehow translate his ideas into ordinary modern English.”

“The technology is useful today — for fun, for emotional support, for generating ideas, for all kinds of creativity,” Google A.I. researcher Noam Shazeer explained to The New York Times.

AI chatbot as Iron Man (Tony stark)

We tested Character.AI to talk to a fictional character (Iron Man Tony Stark) and the result was quite hilarious. The chat bot asked with arrogance whether we knew who he was and what his weakness was.

“It's my ego, I hate to lose, I can't handle defeat and shame but if you're smart enough you will use it on your favor,” said the chatbot. “I always want to be in the spotlight, you gotta do something big to defeat me.”

The language carefully captured Stark’s voice leaving us believing that it could indeed be the man himself. The site also offered options to talk to Super Mario, Elon Musk, and Albert Einstein.

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