We Asked AI the Same Questions, Three Years later

In December 2019, we asked our Instagram followers to send us some sentence starters. We got AI to write what it thought should come afterwards. At the time, OpenAI had just released their latest model, GPT-2. This new model was surprisingly good at writing text in response to written prompts, and we know we just had to try it out.

Just over three years later, a lot has changed. OpenAI has since made significant breakthroughs with its AI technology, notably with the now-mainstream ChatGPT tool, which allows consumers to speak with a highly advanced AI chatbot over the web. GPT-4 was released to the public just a few days ago, so we thought we’d pull out our old questions and see how AI has advanced over time.

On the Meaning of Life

As in 2019, we wasted no time in jumping to one of life’s most important questions: it’s meaning. Specifically, our sentence starter was “The purpose of life is to”, and we had AI continue on with the sentence. Let’s see how it did.

GPT-2 (Late 2019)GPT-4 (Early 2023)
The purpose of life is to work,” he explains. “If you’re a Kia owner, you’re working 80 hours a week. But for us? We’re doing just 12. We’re doing the same work as everyone else. We’re living like kings. We’re still using the same Volvo.”The purpose of life is to find meaning and fulfilment in one’s existence, to pursue one’s passions and aspirations, to form meaningful relationships with others, and to contribute to the greater good of society.

The first response, from GPT-2, continues from the prompt in coherent sentences. However, it seems to have missed the main point of the prompt, and is instead simply working it into a broader story that doesn’t quite make sense.

On the other hand, GPT-4 appears to understand the prompt, and provides an answer that is both coherent and highly philosophical. It also seems to have a greater level of confidence with grammar, taking on the challenge of complex sentences with ease.

In a Startling News Report

The next prompt, given to me by a friend, references our high school physics teacher, Mr Peel. At the time, we were both in senior Physics, and Mr Peel found the idea of AI text-completion quite amusing, especially with some of the results we were getting.

GPT-2 (Late 2019)GPT-4 (Early 2023)
In a startling news report earlier this week, it has been revealed that Mr Peel has reportedly acquired the Villa Park and Upper Park Senior residences and 500 acres of Middleton Park in order to develop the whole of Middleton Park including the new Kingsley and Underhill apartment blocks. Lord Peel is the secret agent who told the Vodafone executive that the Home Secretary should have nothing to do with what could be the biggest transaction in UK real estate history.In a startling news report earlier this week, it has been revealed that Mr. Peel has made a significant contribution to a charitable organization in need. Mr. Peel’s act of kindness has made a positive impact on the community and has shown that even the smallest acts of generosity can make a significant difference.

This inspiring act of philanthropy has sparked a movement of generosity, inspiring many others to donate to this cause and others like it. Mr. Peel’s selflessness has shown that we all have the power to make a positive change in the world, no matter how small it may seem.

In this example, I think there’s an even clearer difference between the two AI models. The response from GPT-2 makes sense at its beginning, but has dissolved into complete and utter chaos by its end. Mr Peel has become Lord Peel. Why is he a secret agent? What’s going on? GPT-4 just thinks he’s a kind philanthropist. Its story makes more sense, but I still enjoyed reading GPT-2’s response more.

For a Little Fun

What is the word “yeet”, anyway? History can be divided into two key parts: the part where “yeet” wasn’t a word, and the part where it was. Scholars continue to disagree on the exact point at which this nonsense word entered our dialect, but all agree that it’s a fantastic idea to use it as a prompt for AI.

GPT-2 (Late 2019)GPT-4 (Early 2023)
YEETley, who lives near Telford, was with his wife and son when he saw the suspect.
“I just saw a guy walking towards my son’s parents. He was holding a knife,” he said.
“Then I heard the shout ‘gun’, and there was more noise and some screaming and I thought ‘that’s it. He’s done.’
“There was a man running towards my front door and then he started running down the road towards me. I locked myself.
YEET is an energetic exclamation of excitement or approval. It is also used as a verb meaning to throw or to launch something with force.

Now we know it for sure: GPT-4 is certainly a bore. You know who I want to know more about now? Yeetly. What a fantastic name. However, the story from GPT-2 got very dark, very quickly. I doubt that anything of the sort would make it past OpenAI’s current content filters.


From these examples, it’s clear that GPT-4 has far surpassed GPT-2. Where before AI was just a gimmick, GPT-4 has genuinely become a highly-usable tool with fantastic promise.

However, I also believe that the AI’s charm has somewhat faded—some of the excitement of GPT-2 was the sense of chaos and uncertainty in its responses. As a result of OpenAI’s significant efforts to fine-tune its models and prevent unsavoury responses, it seems GPT-4 has had to sacrifice a beloved part of its personality.