Richard deploys ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence program, to help him understand two software platforms we can invest in that incorporate artificial intelligence. His conclusion: this is not a dystopia, it is the start of a partnership.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have surely heard of ChatGPT. It is an artificial intelligence program that converses with us as a human would.
Today, it has let me down for the first time. It is so popular it has gone offline. But blackouts aside, I have been chatting with ChatGPT since November, sometimes using it as an investment tool.
Before I say how though, I need to explain that ChatGPT doesn’t know much after 2021. It does not know that we have a king, and it does not know about how retailers traded over Christmas.
In fact, ChatGPT has a loose relationship with facts. I tested it on a subject I know better than any other human alive, myself*. It returned a comprehensive professional biography, which had the ring of truth.
It said I am a well-known figure in the world of investment and stock analysis, known for fundamental analysis and providing educational resources and practical advice, and that I have been writing for more than twenty years.
That is a generous, but otherwise accurate summary, but the biographical details became flakier as ChatGPT provided more detail.
It said I am the editor of interactive investor, promoting me to a role I last filled over ten years ago.
ChatGPT said I have written books, which I have not, and that my personal website provides articles, tutorials, and videos on a wide range of topics including some things I know about, and technical analysis, about which I know next to nothing. My website, though, contains none of this. It is a one-pager, a very brief summary of what I do.
The AI finished off with a flourish, saying I had featured in various media outlets such as the Financial Times and The Times. I have written for national print publications many times, but oddly, not the titles it chose.
From this, I conclude that ChatGPT is an outrageous success. When it knows the gist of something, it fills in the blanks by making stuff up. It is a lot more human than I anticipated.
You might be wondering why I bother with ChatGPT if it is unreliable.
First off, it has been trained to give answers in natural language, so when I have trouble phrasing something I will often run the text past ChatGPT to see if it can do better.
But even though it will not give stock recommendations, it can help with investment too.
Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger are an example of a successful investment partnership, a case of one plus one being greater than two.
Having somebody to work with shares the load, it helps us clarify our thoughts and provide different perspectives, and revise. As somebody who largely works alone, I have found myself turning to ChatGPT to help me get my head around investing conundrums.
The sternest test I have given the AI program so far is to tell me the difference between Dotdigital’s platform, which these days markets itself as a customer data solution, and D4t4’s Celebrus customer data platform (CDP). Dotdigital is a company I have followed for some time, and I own shares in D4t4.
D4t4 is a speculative position because the industry is a bit of a mystery to me, hence my enlistment of ChatGPT to understand it better.
There are dozens of companies, perhaps hundreds, that make software that helps businesses collect, manage, and act on customer data. The programs integrate with other business systems, and it is difficult to tell how these programs overlap or fit together.
Both Celebrus CDP and Dotdigital collect data, profile customers, and use that information to trigger events. Dotdigital’s heritage is in email marketing campaigns, although it has expanded into sms and chat. My impression is that its strengths lie in using data rather than collecting it.
Celebrus’s speciality is the collection of data from real-time browsing activity, although it marries its data to other data collected by its customers’ systems. It responds on the website or in-app, but it can also trigger marketing campaigns like Dotdigital.
Both companies use artificial intelligence in their programs, so it seems appropriate that I am using an AI program to help me familiarise myself with them. Maybe that sounds dystopian to you. It is the future…
I asked ChatGPT to summarise the similarities and differences between the two programs, and, because I thought its answers were vague in some respects, I followed up with more specific questions.
The AI told me both companies aggregate data, but ChatGPT was effusive about Celebrus’s real-time analytics, which captures the behaviour of customers, clicks and likes, on websites and in apps. The only primary source of data it listed for Dotdigital is formed, which is decidedly old school.
On the other hand, ChatGPT was very forthcoming on Dotdigital’s capability to build marketing campaigns. When I asked if Celebrus could do the same thing, it said Celebrus can segment data and inform marketing campaigns, but it does not include tools for creating and executing them.
Though this accords with my impressions, we need to be careful. ChatGPT is probably quite gullible. It learned by scraping information from the Internet and much of it will have come from marketing materials. The pace of change in software development is rapid, and ChatGPT is stuck in 2021.
But if we asked a mate in the business, we would get biased answers and inadvertent half truths too. More important to me is the process of formulating the right questions and getting answers I can follow up.
My adventures with AI have extended to reading a book about it: “Mathematical Intelligence: What we have that machines don’t”, by Junaid Mubeen, a mathematician and Countdown champion.
Mubeen says AI is still mostly about calculation, which is only one of the ways we reason (he lists seven others). AI is doing what computers and other machines before them have always done, doing spadework so we can be more creative.
It is a tool. We still need to formulate the right questions and interpret the answers.
* Sadly I reported ChatGPT’s errors, and my reward is that I have been wiped from its memory. When I ask it the same question now, it knows nothing.
I have been burned. The answer it gave on January 10 is wrong but makes me feel much better. I want that website, and I’d quite like to have written some books:
Contact Richard Beddard by email: email@example.com or on Twitter: @RichardBeddard
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This article is for educational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or sell shares or other investments. Do your own research before buying or selling any investment or seek professional financial advice.