Chatting with GPT By Peter Mansfield

September 21, 2023
By Insurindex Editor

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Earlier this year, I had the honour of interviewing Chat GPT for the Insurance Covered podcast.

In this context, ‘honour’ may be an unusual word to choose. We honour that which is rare or precious, whereas Chat GPT is now ubiquitous and available to all. Interviewing David Attenborough would be an honour, but, really, Chat GPT?

Nonetheless, it was an honour because it offered a glimpse into the future of insurance.

I asked it questions. What is your definition of insurance? Does insurance have a social function? Might it harm society? What are the top three issues facing the industry?

It answered all these with ease.

After writing each question, I would press return and the answer would immediately start to appear, albeit a sentence or so at a time. This gradual unveiling of an answer is done solely to make the human believe that Chat GPT is ‘thinking’. In fact, the answer could have been provided instantaneously.

The quality of the answers was at the level of a very good A-level student. There was none of the nuance or intuition that you would expect from a human expert. Having said that, given that the questions were posed without prior notice, the answers were significantly better than would have been provided by 95% of people in the insurance industry, and I include myself in that 95%.

And this is just the first iteration of Chat GPT. This is the Space Invaders of generative AI. Who knows what the equivalent of Red Dead Redemption 2 will look like?

On the podcast, Chat GPT modestly said, “As an AI language model, I’m able to analyse large amounts of data and provide insights that were previously difficult or impossible to obtain. This has the potential to revolutionise many aspects of the insurance industry.

Whether or not Chat GPT and its siblings will revolutionise the insurance industry is matter of debate, but insurance will inevitably be changed by its existence.

This puts the onus on us now to work out how generative AI can best be used. In a more recent episode of the podcast, my guest James Platt said, “You have to understand technology at a level where you can think about the implications for your role and your job. And I don’t think we do.”

He then told a story. At a seminar with a group of insurance professionals, he asked them whether they had interacted with the infamous chatbot. “I was staggered,” he said, “how few in that room had really played with it.”

I would urge you to chat with Chat GPT. You will find it provocative and weirdly dislocating.

To misquote LP Hartley, the future is a foreign country; they do things differently there. They also speak a different language, and that language may be the language of AI.

That is why it was an honour to chat with Chat GPT. It was a voice from a foreign land.

Peter Mansfield
Partner, RPC

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