The Parallels between ChatGPT and ADHD

The Parallels between ChatGPT and ADHD

The Parallels between ChatGPT and ADHD

So, you may have heard this little product called ChatGPT appeared in recent months. Well one or two people might have used it and some company might have invested their couch change into it. Anyways, after spending time interacting with it, my time spent with IBM Watson, and living my life with ADHD, I have found some incredible parallels. I’ve also written a few times on ADHD, which has had some great success and outreach among others. Today, we’re going to touch on a few things that I found:

  • AI Learning Models coincide with how I learn to interact with peers
  • ChatGPT knowledge gaps coincide with my own challenges and slip-ups with ADHD
  • ChatGPT is often misunderstood and even villainized.

When something different comes into our society, it is rarely accepted. We are seeing so much of that in our society today in many different ways. I will have the pleasure of representing some of these “differences” at VMware Explore 2023 this year in the Neurodiversity Panel in the VIB2876LV which means so much to me.

Some may have noticed that I took a short break from writing over the last few weeks, but sadly I had to say goodbye to my best friend (who sometimes as he got old I forgot he was my best friend). My dearly departed Johnny Five, which reminds me of the journey of another Johnny-Five and how he learned to live with other humans like I have.

AI Model Learning: I’m not an Expert but I Sorta Understand

My article that I wrote on IBM Watson in terms of Workspace ONE is a really good comparison about how ChatGPT and other AI technologies learn. This graphic below really helps you understand pretty well.

In the first stage, it uses a pre-training model. The pre-training model is a deep-learning one. It’s sort of a neural-based algorithm that looks for patterns and makes intelligent predictions based on the data it has. Large datasets are used to accomplish tasks based on prediction. This is really just the first step as there is much more work to be done. Nvidia wrote some nice stuff about it themselves.

The pre-trained model acts as the framework/starting point for everything. I really liked how IBM Watson laid it out for their chatbots and made it easy to understand:

The idea was they had 3 aspects:

  • Intents (analyzes what someone is trying to do)
  • Entities (translates what people are trying to say sort of like teaching rules about dates/formats)
  • Dialogues (listens for a specific intent, in which the Chatbot is programmed to deliver a specific response).

I found this to be helpful when trying to learn how the Chatbot works. We would spend time looking at the dialogues and fine-tuning to ensure it is doing what we “intend” it to do. That takes us to fine-tuning.

Fine-tuning as defined by OpenAI helps you get more out of the models available via the API by improving the results, training on more examples, making things more efficient. This article isn’t really about AI, but more about the parallels between AI and ADHD.

How is ADHD Similar to AI Learning?

One of the things that is true with me and I wager is true with many others is that I often leave a bad first impression. With ADHD, we spend significant time within our internal dialogue. We spend a ton of time thinking about what we say, what the potential response will be, and how to interact with others.

Usually, I talk to someone new and try to pickup on non-verbal cues and often fail. Outside of the fact of my substantial social anxiety, I try to use what has worked with others and see if it will work. I would say 50-60% of the time it’s an epic failure. I try to be funny or witty and it fails sort of like asking ChatGPT to write code. Let’s check out an example of when I was writing automation for Workspace ONE Freestyle Orchestrator.

I told it to convert a CMD command to PowerShell:

“Tell me how to execute dcu-cli..exe -configure configure.test in Powershell”

It said:

Try this: .\dcu-cli.exe -configure configure.test

This failed and didn’t work at all, so I said this didn’t work give me something else please!

It came back and recommended this:

& "[full_path]\dcu-cli.exe" -configure "[full_path]\configure.test"

This ended up being the solution (something similar to this at least). Some of us with ADHD deal with interesting parallels. I try to do what I think is going to work in the situation, and more often than not its an epic failure. On top of that, I’m a fairly passionate person which doesn’t help in the least! Sure, 5% of the time I will absolutely hit it off with someone, but it’s common that I am misunderstood.

Many of us with ADHD are very misunderstood because we have so many things going on internally that some of our quirks like these will portray poorly:

  • No filter
  • Endless energy
  • Needing to solve everything
  • Desire to make others happy

Those are just a few examples, but those who stick by us and know we have good intentions will find that we’re good people more often than not. It’s tough honestly, but we are who are. Zebras don’t change their stripes and ADHD is one of our many layers.

ChatGPT and its Beautiful Gaps

For fun, I asked ChatGPT 4 what its gaps are. This is what it said:

  1. Context Understanding: ChatGPT sometimes generates responses that may seem plausible but are incorrect or nonsensical. This is because the model doesn’t understand context or text in the same way humans do. It doesn’t have a grounded understanding of the world.
  2. Knowledge Limitation: As of my training cut-off in September 2021, I don’t have the ability to learn or understand new information post that date. I also do not have the ability to access or retrieve personal data from users unless it has been shared with me in the course of our conversation. I am designed to respect user privacy and confidentiality.
  3. Lengthy Conversations: Maintaining context in long conversations can be challenging for the model. It may lose track of key details from earlier in the conversation, leading to inconsistent responses.
  4. Sensitivity and Appropriateness: While measures have been taken to ensure that ChatGPT refuses inappropriate requests and uses language respectfully, it may sometimes respond to harmful instructions or exhibit biased behavior or respond in ways that are inappropriate or offensive.
  5. Fact-Checking: I generate responses based on patterns and information in the data I was trained on and can’t verify the factual accuracy of new information or updates after my last training cut-off.
  6. Overuse of Certain Phrases: In some cases, I can overuse certain phrases or take an overly verbose approach to explanations.
  7. Absence of Personal Experience or Emotions: As an AI, I don’t have personal experiences or emotions, but sometimes I might generate text that could give that impression, which can be misleading.

It’s been well-documented that ChatGPT is far from perfect and its lack of Internet and when it was originally built are gaps. At the end of the day, AI is still a machine. It will always have struggles, but it’s interesting when you look at its gaps and how much it resembles ADHD.

How ChatGPT’s Gaps Correlate to ADHD

So let’s take each of its admitted gaps and talk about how close they relate to ADHD.

  1. I can say for myself that contextual awareness is a major issue with ADHD. We often deal with tunnel vision and focusing issues that impact our contextual awareness. The way others see or interpret context is different than us. In some areas, our contextual awareness is amazing. In other areas, we struggle because of how fast our brains work and fixate.
  2. Knowledge limitation is a tougher one. I think you could easily argue that we have a major yin and yang situation. The things we are really excited about we have incredible knowledge, but because we learn differently than others there are things that are not as accessible to us. I haven’t read a book for pleasure in years and that definitely creates knowledge limitations.
  3. LOL, I mean one of the things that I do is ramble. I can say from being married to a brilliant woman that my propensity to extend conversations usually ends in my “demise.”
  4. Sensitivity is pretty obvious. When you are so direct and lack a filter, sensitivity can be a bit of a luxury.
  5. Fact-checking may not be an ADHD symptom but I have made some mistakes because I thought I knew the right answer but didn’t double-check. I know many of us can admit to messing up a doctor appointment location, time, etc.
  6. For 6 and 7, I covered them pretty well in the last section. We’re not robots but sometimes we have to learn what works to have good social interactions. It’s really hard for us to do things that come so easy for others.

I am astonished how I learn that things about me are actually ADHD symptoms. The problem I struggle with constantly is people think they know what ADHD is because they know one person, but we vary so greatly. That is why many people think ADHD and autism are so similar.

How Misunderstood ChatGPT Is

The problem with ChatGPT is people treat it like its Encyclopedia Britannica.

It’s really more like Gartner. I treat Gartner like a friend’s opinion on a new girlfriend or wife. It’s just a resource. It’s not perfect, but it can help you get to the right place. We’ve seen a number of bad things happen recently:

  • Lawyers got fined because of a ChatGPT-written brief
  • Teachers catching students cheating from ChatGPT
  • Person used it to generate fake news and got in trouble

There are a number of people who are terrified about ChatGPT especially in tech. You have companies that are straight blocking it because they don’t understand it. There are privacy concerns and a litany of other problems.

The issue is that people aren’t thinking about it in the right way. It’s a tool just like Wireshark, Fiddler, Visual Studio, etc. You should leverage it to improve your work and the utility that it is. Just like we learned with Skynet, a tool is only as evil as the intentions of others. ChatGPT being used the right way is so incredibly valuable. I’m saving a ton of time on scripts and logic, which is really useful. It shouldn’t be the end result, but it should improve your existing work.

How ADHD is Misunderstood

ADHD like our friend ChatGPT is also misunderstood. ADHD can never be treated at face-value. It’s ironic that the thing we are often accused of is the reason why we are so misunderstood.

I’ve had C-level people tell me to “try harder” to overcome my challenges. The irony is if they tried harder to understand ME, it would be different. I wrote before about finding the right manager for someone with ADHD, which cannot be understated. People often just take us at face value and presume they know everything about us.

The truth takes more effort. The great thing about people with ADHD is for the most part we don’t have hidden motives and are non-political. You always know where you stand with us and we’re loyal as hell. People just need to try harder and not consume themselves with prejudice. Yes, ADHD suffers a ton of prejudice and bias. Remote work was probably better for us in a ton of ways (besides being frequently misunderstood via Chat). Supporting and leveraging those of us who are neurodiverse will pay dividends. We will almost always be your top contributors if we have the love and support we badly need.

Reflecting on a Dog and a Robot to Bring Things Together

As I mentioned in the opener, losing my dog of 17 years (named Johnny Five) brought many things full circle for me. Outside of the heartbreak, we learned so much from the movie Short Circuit.

Its amazing in 1986 that we explored these sorts of things without realizing it. Just because something is different doesn’t mean its bad. All it took was two people to embrace that love and understanding that being different is beautiful and we should support each other to be our best selves. I am truly appreciative of those lessons being taught and I believe it will help us leave the world better than we got it. As the father of two neurodiverse children, I hope we can all teach more of these lessons. In 6 weeks, I will do my part on that mission at VMware Explore.



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