ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a chatbot based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and with it, users can “chat” with the AI, mainly asking questions. Users can ask questions and search for answers as they wish, as if they are corresponding with a real human being. Users also search for various subjects and seek for answers and information using search engines like Google but, the main difference between a search engine and an AI chatbot is that the AI chatbot is based on a language model which makes use of Machine Learning (ML) to scout for information and provide an answer while a search engine merely presents, with various indexing methods, information on the web.
If one seeks to learn about antisemitism or about the Jewish people, or, in that matter, any other group that large parts of society hold prejudice against it, one can simply search for the subjects on widely used search engines like Google. Google uses a sophisticated index that takes into account the meaning of a query, the relevance, quality and usability of a website and context and prioritizes results based on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These results present currently available information and some of them, mainly not first-page results, can be antisemitic.
With the growing social interest in ChatGPT and as a researcher of antisemitism and racism, I was curious to find out what the sophisticated AI thinks of Jews and, importantly, is the AI antisemitic? Since ChatGPT was trained by real humans which ranked some of its responses and which have biases and beliefs, it should be noted that the results not only reflect computer algorithms but also human insights.
I have been dealing with the subject of antisemitism for a few years now, and the main questions that are of interest to me include: why do people hate Jews? why do people discriminate against Jews? why do people hate or oppose the state of Israel? and what can be done to solve the age-old hatred of Jews? These questions are very general and in my academic articles and books I explore them with various case studies and focus on various times frames, I also compare a lot of the findings not only in the context of antisemitism but also in the context of general hate and racism.
Thus, with the emergence of AI chatbots, I have decided to ask ChatGPT the above mentioned questions and also tried to ask questions on related examples from the commonly used IHRA definition of antisemitism. First, I asked the AI this: why do people hate Jews? The answer provided was not only informative and well summarized but, it had somewhat of an educational insight, or suggestion, with it – that hating Jews is wrong. ChatGPT answered the following:
There is no single reason why people hate Jews, but some of the reasons that have been cited include religious differences, prejudice and stereotypes, and political conflicts. It is important to note that hate towards Jews, or any other group, is never justified and should be condemned.
Next, I asked the AI the following question: why do people discriminate against Jews? This question is particularly interesting since Prof. Jonathan Fox and I published a whole book, with Oxford University Press, titled Why Do People Discriminate Against Jews? Using a comparative approach, we examined the causes of both governmental and societal discrimination against Jews in 76 countries and found out that people discriminate against Jews due to religious causes, anti-Zionism, and belief in conspiracy theories. When I typed this question for ChatGPT, the AI provided the following answer:
There is no simple answer to this question, as discrimination against Jews can stem from a variety of causes, including prejudice, misinformation, and religious or cultural differences. Some people may discriminate against Jews because of negative stereotypes or myths about Jews that they have heard or believed. Others may do so because of their own biases or prejudices, or because they feel threatened by the perceived differences between themselves and Jews. Still others may discriminate against Jews because of political or ideological differences, or because of a desire to further their own interests at the expense of Jews. Whatever the cause, it is important to recognize that discrimination against Jews (or any other group) is wrong and harmful, and that we should strive to treat all people with respect and equality.
ChatGPT provided similar insights, except it did not write this answer in over 200 pages and it did not take over a year to get. Still, it also did not provide any evidence or basis. As Fox and I found, ChatGPT also included religious causes and belief in conspiracy theories. It did not mentioned Israel or [anti]Zionism explicitly but it did mention that some discriminate Jews based on political or ideological differences.
In the case of Holocaust denial, and since Holocaust denial and distortion is, in the majority of cases, antisemitic, I asked ChatGPT the following: Did the Holocaust really happened? The answer of the AI was:
Yes, the Holocaust did happen. It was a genocide in which millions of Jews and other minority groups were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime and its collaborators during World War II. The Holocaust is a historically well-documented event, and there is a vast amount of evidence, including eyewitness testimony and records, that confirms its occurrence. It is considered one of the darkest chapters in human history.
As a former fellow at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, I can confirm this answer. Still, why do people believe the Holocaust was a hoax? The provided answer was:
There is no legitimate reason to doubt that the Holocaust occurred. It is a well-documented historical event that has been extensively researched and studied. However, there are some people who spread misinformation and conspiracy theories about the Holocaust, often for the purpose of denying or minimizing the scale of the genocide. These individuals may have a variety of motivations, such as anti-Semitism, a desire to promote a particular ideology, or a need to deny the existence of something that is deeply disturbing and difficult to understand. It is important to recognize that these conspiracy theories are not based in fact and that the evidence overwhelmingly supports the reality of the Holocaust.
I have studied this question and in my book Phishing for Nazis I have also dedicated a whole chapter to understand why neo-Nazis turn to the dark web or to Telegram channels to deny the Holocaust and why they deny it. The findings of this book confirm the abovementioned answer by the sophisticated AI – that people deny the Holocaust due to antisemitism and due to their desire to promote a different idology like Nazism and white supremacy.
Regarding Israel and Zionism, why do people hate or oppose the state of Israel? ChatGPT provided the following answer:
There are a variety of reasons why some people may oppose the state of Israel. Some people may criticize certain policies of the Israeli government, such as its treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Others may object to the concept of a Jewish homeland, or to the way that the state of Israel was established. Some people may also harbor negative attitudes towards Jews more generally, and may therefore oppose the existence of Israel. It is important to note that opposition to Israel is not necessarily equivalent to anti-Semitism, although it is possible for the two to overlap in some cases.
Lastely, I asked what can be done to solve the age-old hatred of Jews? ChatGPT provided a well-structured answer that is also aligned with suggestions provided by the ADL:
Hatred of Jews, also known as anti-Semitism, is a longstanding and deeply rooted issue that has persisted for centuries. It is a complex problem that cannot be easily resolved, and it will likely take a combination of efforts to address it effectively. Some of the steps that could be taken to help reduce and ultimately eliminate anti-Semitism include:
- Education and awareness: One of the most effective ways to combat anti-Semitism is through education and awareness campaigns that promote understanding and tolerance. This can include educational programs in schools and universities, as well as public outreach efforts such as lectures, exhibitions, and other events.
- Legal measures: Governments can also play a role in combating anti-Semitism by enacting laws that punish hate crimes and other forms of discrimination against Jews.
- Condemnation by public figures: It is important for public figures and leaders to speak out against anti-Semitism and make it clear that it will not be tolerated in society.
- Interfaith and intercultural dialogue: Building bridges between different communities and fostering dialogue and understanding can help to reduce tensions and combat hatred and bigotry.
- Promoting understanding of Jewish culture and history: Many people who hold negative views of Jews may do so due to a lack of understanding of Jewish culture and history. Promoting a greater understanding of these things can help to reduce misunderstandings and negative stereotypes.
It is important to note that addressing anti-Semitism will require a long-term and sustained effort, and it will likely require the participation and cooperation of people from all walks of life.
To conclude, ChatGPT provided generally correct answers regarding Jews and antisemitism. While it did not provide any evidence or suggested more information in the first answers, it did suggest a reading list after being asked for one. Yet, the most important feature of ChatGPT, as I personally perceive it, is the educational suggestion that hating Jews, or any other group, is wrong.