ADAPT Academics Professor Naomi Harte and Dr Ben Cowan feature on Futureproof podcast to discuss AI Technologies & ChatGPT

10 April 2023

ADAPT’s Professor Naomi Harte and Dr Ben Cowan discuss the status of AI technologies and ChatGPT on Futureproof with Jonathan McCrea.

Dublin, 10 April 2023: Recently, ADAPT academics Professor Naomi Harte and Dr Ben Cowan featured on NewsTalk’s Futureproof podcast with host Jonathan McCrea on the topic of whether ChatGPT is the beginning of an AI revolution. Dr. Benjamin Cowan, Associate Professor at UCD’s School of Information and Communication Studies and Co-Principal Investigator at the ADAPT Centre and Professor Naomi Harte, Professor in Speech Technology in the School of Engineering in Trinity College Dublin joined the podcast to discuss the current state of AI technologies and where we are headed. This podcast also incorporates ChatGPT as an interviewee.

ChatGPT, an AI chatbot created by OpenAI who have also developed the controversial text-to-image generator DALL-E, is a recent development in the world of AI. Since launching in November 2022, it has elicited strong opposing reactions within industry and the general public with some viewing it as an impressive next step in technology and others viewing it in a more negative light. According to Dr Cowan, ChatGPT is AI brought into the mainstream from the elements of using Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools to create interesting interactions. Dr Cowan highlights the importance of mapping the implications of what this technology will mean going forward. The abilities it possesses, such as its ability to immediately generate copy and content, are outstanding from a technology perspective but, as Dr Cowan mentions, some of the outputs can be questionable in terms of accuracy. He suggests that a human would be needed alongside this technology in order to make it workable and highlights the growing potential of AI to be a collaborator rather than a tool to this effect.

However, building and improving on a system like ChatGPT may be more difficult than it seems. As Prof Harte raises in the podcast, humans are good at dealing with variability and currently have a distinct advantage over AI in that we are able to utilise context, visual and auditory cues when communicating with each other. Both Prof Harte and Cowan discuss issues of creativity and relatability with systems like ChatGPT. Prof. Cowan refers to shared human experience being an important factor in the kind of content we consume. Would that same level of relatability be a factor if the content was generated by an AI that mined a huge amount of data in order to produce something relatable? Ultimately, it is necessary to recognise the limits of systems like ChatGPT and just as people have different strengths and weaknesses, AI can be designed for specific areas of interaction. 

Finally, drawing the podcast to a close, Prof. Harte emphasised how necessary human judgement is and will remain to be when approaching the kind of information produced by systems like ChatGPT. She also emphasises the importance of reviewing what skills and learning outcomes will be needed from primary level right up to third level education as these new technologies become more commonplace. 

To listen to this podcast in full visit NewsTalks Futureproof with Johnathon McCrae.

Prof. Harte is co-chair of the upcoming ADAPT-hosted conference on the science and technology of spoken language processing, INTERSPEECH 2023. INTERSPEECH will take place in the Dublin Convention Centre from the 20th Aug 2023. Prof. Harte co-chairs with ADAPT Academics Prof. Julie Berndsen (University College Dublin) and Prof. Gareth Jones (Dublin City University). More information on the conference can be found on