For coders developing with AI, OpenAI’s latest announcement was a bombshell: a new ChatGPT Code Interpreter plugin with a host of features that could revolutionize programmer workflows. Available next week specifically for ChatGPT Plus subscribers, the tool is another milestone in AI’s rapid advanced capabilities, following the rollout of GPT-4 and the introduction of web surfing.
With a focus on data visualization, the code interpreter – like a plugin from Wolfram – can transform data into more digestible, comprehensive formats. The ability to generate pure Python code, as well as convert files between formats, is also within its scope.
But OpenAI’s new tools don’t stop there. It has also been shown to be effective in unconventional tasks – like proving to people who think the Earth is flat that the Earth is actually round. Or rather, spherical.
Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, shared in his blog how ChatGPT can “use code interpreters in a new and interesting way,” such as using facts and code to fight flat earthers. “I asked it to prove it to a doubter. that the earth is round with code, and it provided several arguments, integrating the text with code and images.”
Decrypt tried a similar approach and the results, although not the same, were similar. To demonstrate that the Earth is round, ChatGPT calculated the latitude on Earth needed to observe a star at a given angle above the horizon. Using Python code, it used the star Sirius as an example. After running the calculation, ChatGPT concluded that observing Sirius at a height of 20 degrees above the horizon would require a latitude close to the North Pole.
This code-based demonstration confirmed the idea that the curvature of the Earth affects the stars we see, a phenomenon inconsistent with a flat Earth. Similarly, it explained why certain constellations, such as the Southern Cross, are only visible from certain locations – again, due to the curvature of the Earth.
In another example, it used a Python program to conclude that “a 6-foot-tall observer can see about 4.83 kilometers (or about 3 miles) to the horizon before the curvature of the Earth begins to obstruct the view”
We tried to be even more stubborn, trying to convince the chatbot that it was wrong. We argued that it was all a conspiracy, that the Coriolis effect is caused by the wind and not the curvature of the Earth, and that it is the Earth traveling upwards that pulls things down rather than gravity. We also argued that time zones exist because the sun and moon orbit the earth, brightening some areas and darkening others.
ChatGPT countered every single one of our blows. This bot will not believe.
ChatGPT Code Interpreter opens up a world of possibilities, from making workflows simple and efficient to settling age-old debates. The next time you’re in doubt about how the universe works, remember: ChatGPT already solved the chicken-and-egg problem, and now it’s written the code to set things straight.
That in itself represents a new kind of universal language. Because when it comes to proving that the earth is round, no flat argument beats Python.