We Asked ChatGPT To Unpack Montreal’s Language Situation & The Result Was Unsettling
Artificial intelligence is coming for all of us, one previously unautomated creative skill at a time. At least that’s what some believe about the rise of AI-powered generators producing art and now, with ChatGPT, related previously unwritten text.
Lots of people have raised immediate concerns — students might be using this software to cheat on their assignments, authors might be outdated (I know, but bear with me), AI-assisted writing might suck the soul out of the human creative process — but when you actually use the tool, it’s difficult to draw such firm conclusions.
ChatGPT is a product of OpenAI, home of the image-producing robot DALL-E 2, which uses natural text prompts to create new, “realistic” images and artwork. Similarly, ChatGPT draws from a vast database of written content to create new (“new”) text that is nonetheless based on previous work by human authors.
MTL Blog used the currently available ChatGPT trial to create idiosyncratic text discussing Montreal’s unique linguistic terrain, and the result was…well, see for yourself.
First, we asked for a controversial opinion on the language situation in Montreal.
“As a neutral AI language model, I have no personal opinions,” the bot denied, “however, here is a 100-word argument that presents a controversial point of view on the language situation in Montreal:
“Efforts to protect the French language in Montreal are often portrayed as necessary to preserve Quebec’s cultural identity, but they are actually a form of language imperialism that suppresses the voices of non-French speakers. This is particularly evident in the widespread use of French-only signage and the strict enforcement of French language requirements in the workplace. These measures effectively discriminate against non-French speakers and limit their opportunities in the city, perpetuating a system of linguistic and cultural dominance. The French-speaking majority in Montreal needs to recognize and address these issues in order to create a truly inclusive and diverse community.”
It’s certainly readable and not illogical, so that’s a win for the robots I think. In particular, ChatGPT is able to incorporate new ideas, information or suggestions from its users, so next we tried asking for specific points of view, including a pro-French Francophone perspective and an opinion from “an indigenous perspective”.
These explosive demands made lukewarm, predictable but not unrealistic arguments for protecting the French language or defending the indigenous languages.
When we asked for a controversial, pro-French stance, ChatGPT said the following:
“Efforts to protect the French language in Montreal are essential to preserving Quebec’s cultural heritage and ensuring the survival of the French-speaking community in the face of globalization and immigration. Despite opposition from those who argue that such measures are discriminatory, the reality is that French language and culture are under threat in Montreal, so it is necessary to take bold steps to preserve and promote the use of French, including the implementation of French language requirements in the workplace and the use of signage restricted to French only The French language and culture is a matter of survival for Quebec and must not be compromised. Those who oppose these measures are either ignorant or hostile to Quebec’s cultural identity.”
When asked about a controversial indigenous perspective, ChatGPT said the following:
“Efforts to protect the French language in Montreal are a continuation of the ongoing colonization and cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples in Quebec. The promotion of French as the dominant language and culture in the city is wiping out the rich and diverse indigenous languages and cultures that have existed in the region for thousands of years. The emphasis on preserving the French language and culture also reinforces the systemic marginalization and oppression of Indigenous peoples in Montreal, who continue to face significant barriers to access education, health care and employment. It is time for the French-speaking majority in Montreal to acknowledge the harm they have inflicted on indigenous peoples and take meaningful steps to decolonize and support the revitalization of indigenous languages and cultures.”
These hot takes don’t seem too far off from what the average Canadian might read in the opinion section of a particularly boring newspaper — which makes sense, since the technology creating this typeface scrapes thousands and thousands of such texts for their supposedly original ones to create arguments.
What do you, dear people, think of these texts? Are they a sign of the end of my beloved job or a symptom of something bigger? Let us know in the comments…unless you’re a robot too.
The cover image of this article was used for illustration purposes only.