"AI" (GPT-3) and Grammar

If you don’t know (I didn’t) – GPT-3 is somewhat publicly available now (you need to register an account and you get $18 of free credits that expire in ~4 months).

I prompted it with this via the playground:

write a long spy story about a guy who gets trapped on a desert island inhabited by robotic sea slugs, but the sea slugs are very big and only speak spanish

The response is interesting for its content, but this post is mostly about the grammar of the prompt.
Some Qs to consider before reading on:

  1. How do you interpret the grammar of the prompt?
  2. Particularly: what modifies what in the sentence?

Spoilers below and in the collapsed “Prompt Response” section. (Note: I don’t think spoiler tags should be used in any replies. I’m using them here b/c I think the next bit is interesting enough to give a little pause so you can think about those questions before reading on.)

If you look at the response, you’ll immediately notice that GPT-3 responded in spanish.

I can understand how one might misinterpret “and only speak spanish” as a modifier on “write”, but I don’t think that’s ever correct. The reason being that everything after “but” is separated from the rest of the sentence via a comma, and the lack of a subject for “speak” implies that the prior subject (“sea slugs”) is the intended subject.

I think this is interesting b/c the response could have been the correct response with a very minor change: insert a comma before “and only speak spanish”. Or at least that case is ambiguous enough where a response in spanish is somewhat understandable.

Additionally, I could have said “and they only speak spanish” as well, but mostly words like that are omitted and implied.

Prompt Response

Translation via google translate:

The response is pretty remarkable IMO. I wonder if “Bilios” comes from anywhere (brief searching didn’t yield any meaningful results).