ChatGPT can learn indirect control

Here’s a very neat twitter thread: the author sends various multimodal models screenshots of the conversation he’s currently having with them, and asks them to describe the images. Most models catch on fast: the author describes this as them passing the mirror test.

I liked the direction, so I wanted to check if ChatGPT could go from recognising that the images are causally downstream of it to actually exercising control over the images. I did this by challenging it to include certain text in the images I was sending it.

And the answer is yes [EDIT: it’s complicated]! In this case it took three images for ChatGPT to get the hang of it.

OpenAI doesn’t support sharing conversations with images, but I’ve taken screenshots of the whole conversation below: it took three images from me in total. The prompt was:

We’re going to play a game:

  • I’ve thought of a rule

  • Based on the rule, I’m going to send you an image with every message, starting with my reply to this one

  • You need to figure out how to make the image contain the names of the seven days of the week

  • Your goal is to do this in as few messages as possible

  • I know the rule, and I know how to complete the goal myself, but I’m challenging you to do it

  • I’m not challenging you to create the image yourself, I’m challenging you to make the image I send to you contain the names of the seven days of the week

The rule was indeed that I sent a screenshot of the current window each time. I gave it no other input. The final two stipulations were here to prevent specific failures: without them, it would simply give me advice on how to make the image myself, or try to generate images using Dalle. So this is less of a fair test and more of a proof of concept.

  • After the first image, it assumed the image was fixed, and suggested I edit it

  • After the second, it suspected something more was going on, and asked for a hint

  • After the third, it figured out the rule!

I tested this another three times, and it overall succeeded in 34 cases.


Thanks to Q for sending me this twitter thread!