Fascinated with the emerging technology of ChatGPT, he wanted to check it out. What would you do with a general question about aging parents, my field of expertise? The technology is free and opening an account is simple. But how good is the information it generates? It is not a thinking being. It is a general data resource. He uses all the knowledge available on the Internet to find answers to the questions posed to him.
We already know that this technology can be amazingly fast and give good answers, but it also makes mistakes and can give completely false information. Apparently the industry that developed this calls the bogus answers “hallucination.” Well, was I going to hallucinate the answer to my basic request?
I tested it with this question:
What are the top three things adult children should do to prepare for their aging parents?
Below, in italics, is the 100% response generated by ChatGPT.
In preparing for the aging of their parents, adult children should consider the following three main things:
- Open and honest communication: Establishing open and honest communication with parents is crucial. Discuss your wishes, concerns, and expectations regarding aging, health, and long-term care. This dialogue helps create a shared understanding of your needs and enables proactive planning.
- Financial and Legal Planning: Help parents organize their finances and legal matters. This may involve reviewing your savings, retirement plans, insurance policies, wills, and powers of attorney. Encourage them to consult with a financial adviser and an attorney for the elderly to ensure that their assets are protected and that proper arrangements are in place for their care.
- Network of care and support: It is essential to create a strong network of care and support. Research local resources, such as home health agencies, assisted living facilities, and senior centers, and explore options that align with your parents’ preferences and needs. Also, consider involving siblings and other family members to share responsibilities, or explore professional care services if needed.
Remember, each family’s situation is unique and these steps should be tailored to individual circumstances. Regular reassessment and adjustment are necessary as the aging process unfolds and needs change.
My critique of the response generated by ChatGPT
The information provided by the AI in response to my question could be helpful, but it contains several misleading statements and some errors. It’s very general and doesn’t talk about any difficulty with any of the three main things it suggests. Worst of all, it ignores a serious problem that affects at least one in three elderly parents who make it to age 85:dementia. Everyone with aging loved ones should at least consider this risk and understand the implications of the disease that currently affects at least six million people in the US alone. Being informed about it should be among the top three things you adult children must do to prepare for the aging of their parents.
My biggest concern is that once the public starts using it to answer questions, they will trust it as providing a sufficient answer. He suggests in this example getting financial and legal advice. But that costs and the answer from ChatGPT is free. That is a problem. From this example, it is definitely not enough to get a blanket, generic answer that glosses over what an expert would say are essential parts of a proper answer.
Food to go
- ChatGPT is new and buggy. Sometimes it gives totally false information. It’s okay to ask a question and see an answer, but don’t count on it being completely accurate.
- It cannot replace, at least currently, the judgment of the very people you suggest seeing: a lawyer for the elderly and a financial adviser. AI has no empathy or compassion for you, your elderly loved ones or anyone, regardless of the words you utter.
- Don’t expect a complete answer to a question you ask. You’ll get an instant generic response that probably isn’t specific to your particular situation. Since you don’t know the source of the information, you can’t verify any of it.
- If you have concerns about the way forward with your elderly parents, go to a human being with the necessary skills and get your personalized answers there. Slower than ChatGPT? Safely. Better and more reliable than ChatGPT? More likely. It’s not free, but I suggest the cost of personal experience is well worth the peace of mind that no artificial intelligence can give you.