The chatbot, ChatGPT developed by OpenAI, has been in the news recently and is the subject of much discussion in universities primarily because of its potential use by students to complete their coursework assignments but also the positive uses to which it might be applied. After last week’s invitations to edit two special issues in different journals on cosmetic dentistry and wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) [‘Wire arc additive manufacturing and cosmetic dentistry?‘ on February 8th, 2023], I did a little research in the scientific literature to find out if anyone had published research on using WAAM to make parts for cosmetic dentistry but found nothing. I was not surprised – the level of precision achievable with WAAM is about 1 millimetre which would be insufficient for most applications in cosmetic dentistry. Then, I signed up for a free trial with ChatGPT and conducted an experiment by asking it to write about wire arc additive manufacturing and cosmetic dentistry. The chatbot produced 128 words about how WAAM is becoming increasing popular in cosmetic dentistry because of its accuracy and precision also because a wide range of materials can be used allowing a match to the colour and texture of teeth. I repeated the experiment and the chatbot produced 142 different words, again stating that dental prostheses can be produced using WAAM with high precision and accuracy to match a patient’s existing teeth in colour so that restorations appear natural and undetectable. In each case the six or seven sentences were well-written and included some facts that were used to construct a set of false statements, which superficially appeared reasonable; however, only a modicum of knowledge would be required to identify the fallacious rationale. Some of my colleagues are already exploring incorporating the chatbot into students’ coursework by asking students to use it to generate a description of a technical topic and then asking them to critique its output in order to assess their understanding of the topic. I expect chatbots will improve rapidly but for the moment it is relatively easy to induce them to write nonsense.
Li Y, Su C, Zhu J. Comprehensive review of wire arc additive manufacturing: Hardware system, physical process, monitoring, property characterization, application and future prospects. Results in Engineering,100330, 2021.
Image: www.authoritydental.org CC BY 2.0 downloaded from https://www.flickr.com/photos/dental-photos/50730990757