For coders developing with AI, the latest announcement from OpenAI was a bombshell: a new ChatGPT Code Interpreter plugin with a ton of features that could revolutionize programmers’ workflows. The tool, available next week specifically for ChatGPT Plus subscribers, is another milestone in AI’s rapidly advancing capabilities following the rollout of GPT-4 and the introduction of web browsing.
With a focus on data visualization, the code interpreter – similar to 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 tool doesn’t stop there. It has also proven effective for unconventional tasks—like proving to people who think the Earth is flat that the Earth is actually round. Or rather spherical.
Ethan Mollick, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, shared his blog how ChatGPT can “use code interpreters in a new and interesting way,” like using facts and code to fight flat earthers. “I asked it to prove to a doubter that the Earth is round with code, and it provided several arguments that integrated the text with code and images.”
Decrypt tried a similar approach and the results, though 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 near 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 approximately 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 instead of gravity. We also argued that time zones exist because the sun and moon orbit the Earth, illuminating some areas and darkening others.
ChatGPT countered every single one of our blows. This bot doesn’t want to believe.
ChatGPT Code Interpreter opens up a world of possibilities, from making workflows effortless and efficient to settling age-old debates. The next time you’re wondering how the universe works, remember: ChatGPT has already solved the chicken-and-egg problem, and now it’s written the code to fix things.
It represents in itself a new form of universal language. Because when it comes to proving that the Earth is round, no direct argument beats Python.