A Stochastic Parrot for a Therapist

We are pleased to announce a special episode of the neurodissent podcast produced for the 4th annual Big Rhetorical Podcast Carnival. The theme of this event is “Artificial Intelligence: Applications and Trajectories”. Other podcasts will also be recording episodes on this topic.

In the special episode, Molly and Nic explore the idea of seeking out care or comfort from ChatGPT or other chatbots. Following the lead of linguist Emily M. Bender and her colleagues, we call these chatbots “stochastic parrots”. Thus, we ask “Can a stochastic parrot make a good therapist?” We talk about linguistics research as well as our own personal experience using chatbots — both ChatGPT and Em — as our own personal therapists.

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I use open access sources in my scholarship, so that listeners and readers can engage with the texts I use. The sources referred to in this episode are listed below.

References for the special episode “A Stochastic Parrot for a Therapist”

  1. Arifi, Fjolla. 2023 People Are Using ChatGPT For Therapy. Here’s What Mental Health Experts Think About That. Buzzfeed News.
  2. Bender, Emily M, Timnit Gibru, Angelina McMillan-Major, & Shmargaret Shmitchell. 2021. On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big? 🦜. FAccT ’21: Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency.
  3. Bichelman, Jamie Evan. 2023. After struggling to find a therapist, I sought mental health guidance from ChatGPT. San Diego Union Tribune.
  4. Em x Archii. App.
  5. Kimmel, Daniel. 2023. ChatGPT Therapy Is Good, But It Misses What Makes Us Human. Columbia University Department of Psychiatry.
  6. OpenAI. ChatGPT. App.
  7. Marx, Paris & Eric Wickham. 2023. ChatGPT Is Not Intelligent with Emily Bender. Tech Won’t Save Us [podcast].

Other credits

Music: “Grit” by Shaolin Dub, licensed use.

Parrot image: “Quaker Grey Breasted or Monte Video Parrakeet” from Dutton, F. G.; Fawcett, Benjamin; Greene, W. T.; Lydon, A. F.; Lydon, A. F., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.