Fascination with artificial intelligence and its power has grown sharply with the advent of ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by San Francisco-based OpenAI and launched in November 2022. To test the platform’s analytical and editorial capabilities, AsiaGlobal Online asked ChatGPT to write an article that explained the significance of the visit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to South Korea and Japan from January 29 to February 1. We also requested that it explain why NATO regards China as a “systemic challenge to Euro-Atlantic security” and assess the transatlantic alliance’s emerging partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region. In reply to those queries, ChatGPT produced the text below (published after some editing including the removal of incorrect information and statements that could not be verified) in about two minutes.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg in Seoul, January 29, 2023: An important step in the alliance’s attempts to respond to the challenge posed by China (Credit: NATO)
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's recent visit to South Korea and Japan reflects the growing recognition among the US and its allies of the importance of the Indo-Pacific region in shaping the global strategic landscape. The emergence of China as a major economic and military power has heightened tensions in the region, leading to increased competition between the US and China for influence in the region.
As the US and its allies seek to bolster the rules-based international order, they are looking to strengthen their partnerships with countries in the Indo-Pacific, including South Korea and Japan. These two countries have been important US allies for many years, and they are now viewed as critical partners in countering China's influence in the region.
During his visit, Stoltenberg reaffirmed NATO's commitment to the region and highlighted the importance of closer cooperation between NATO and its allies in the Indo-Pacific. He also discussed the need to build a more resilient and diversified supply chain to reduce dependence on China.
Overall, Stoltenberg's visit reflects the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific region in shaping global strategic dynamics, and the need for the US and its allies to work together to counter the rise of China and uphold the rules-based international order.
NATO's interest in the Indo-Pacific region is based on several factors, including the region's economic importance, its strategic location, and the growing security challenges it faces. With the emergence of China as a global power and its increasing assertiveness in the region, NATO recognizes the need to engage with countries in the Indo-Pacific to uphold a rules-based international order and ensure stability in the region.
NATO has been expanding its partnerships in the region, including with countries like South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These partnerships are based on shared values, common interests, and a desire to promote security, stability, and prosperity in the region.
South Korea and Japan, in particular, are important partners for NATO in the region, given their longstanding alliances with the United States and their strategic location. NATO has conducted joint military exercises and other forms of cooperation with these countries to enhance interoperability and strengthen security in the region.
NATO has also established partnerships with other countries in the region, such as Australia, New Zealand, and India. These partnerships focus on enhancing maritime security, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity cooperation.
Furthermore, NATO has engaged with ASEAN to promote political dialogue and cooperation in areas such as counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and disaster relief. These efforts reflect NATO's recognition of the importance of multilateral approaches to addressing security challenges in the region.
NATO’s main security concerns in the Korean Peninsula are tensions between North and South Korea, the potential for war, and the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Alliance is eager to ensure the peaceful resolution of outstanding differences between the two Koreas, prevent any attempts at destabilizing regional security, and guarantee that any nuclear weapon proliferation is stopped. In addition, NATO closely monitors potential threats emanating from the region, such as missile launches, escalations of military force, and acts of external interference.
Though NATO has expressed interest in supporting Indo-Pacific security objectives, its overarching strategy does not align with the United States' approach to the region. NATO has made some recent efforts to work with states in the region. However, NATO has yet to develop a comprehensive strategy for the Indo-Pacific. NATO does not have an official stance or position regarding the Taiwan Strait and China's policies toward Taiwan due to its lack of involvement in the region. NATO does, however, recognize the importance of maintaining peace and stability and supports productive dialogue as well as a peaceful resolution of disagreements between mainland China and Taiwan. NATO and India cooperate on a range of issues, including counterterrorism, defense and security-building activities, maritime security, technology research and development, and disaster relief.
The above article was produced by the ChatGPT artificial intelligence chatbot as part of a test to assess its analytical and editorial capabilities.
The best aspect of the ChatGPT responses to AsiaGlobal Online’s queries is that they were reasonably well organized and written with good grammar and spelling. Only a couple of times did our editor have to correct an awkward phrase. The artificial intelligence appears to answer questions in a very human way by first repeating the question and then providing its response in a structure that closely hews to the way the request was made.
What is missing are references and sources – and indeed, it appears that the chatbot is not above providing information that may not actually be accurate or true. In a few instances, the replies referred to the signing of a joint declaration in a certain year or the holding of a particular workshop, even providing its title, but when the editor tired to verify the existence of the document or a record of the event, this was not possible. In one sentence, the bot referred to members of NATO in the Indo-Pacific, making it unclear if it meant a NATO country that had a presence in the region or might actually be located in the region (there are no NATO members in the Indo-Pacific, of course). The editor removed any information that was questionable or unverifiable.
The analysis itself was not especially deep or complex. An international relations professor might give the paper a low passing mark, especially as it lacked any references and sourcing. If reckoned to be an academic work or an opinion piece for a newspaper, a teacher or editor applying moderate standards would find the essay superficial, possibly the product of a cursory internet search or two without any significant research. That it included incorrect information would ensure a failing mark or rejection if properly fact checked by the assessor. As an interim policy, The University of Hong Kong prohibits the use of ChatGPT or any other AI-based tool for all classroom, coursework and assessment tasks.
The editor asked ChatGPT to provide three suggestions for further reading, which AsiaGlobal Online normally appends to the end of every published piece. The bot proposed three papers, any references to which the editor could not find online, suggesting that these articles may not actually exist.
Separately, the editor conducted another exercise – asking ChatGPT to suggest outstanding possible candidates to take over a major non-governmental institution and think tank on Asian affairs that is currently looking for a new leader. The bot proposed three names – one a plausible figure, while the other two might have been good picks if they were alive! The artificial intelligence is not up to date on developments since 2021.
To close out the test of ChatGPT’s analytical ability, AsiaGlobal Online asked it to comment on the NATO secretary general’s visit to the Indo-Pacific from Beijing’s perspective. This was its response:
From China's perspective, the recent visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to South Korea and Japan is likely to be viewed with suspicion and concern. China is likely to see this visit as an attempt by the US and its allies to contain China's rise and undermine its interests in the region.
China has consistently opposed any foreign military presence in the region and has viewed the US alliance system in the region as a threat to its security. China has also been critical of NATO's expansion into the Asia-Pacific region, viewing it as an attempt to encircle China.
China has strong economic ties with both South Korea and Japan, and it is likely to be concerned about any moves by these countries to deepen their military cooperation with NATO. China has been critical of Japan's efforts to expand its military capabilities and its growing security ties with the US, and it is likely to view any efforts by NATO to deepen its engagement with Japan as a threat to its interests.
In addition, China may view NATO's interest in the Indo-Pacific region as an attempt to undermine China's influence in the region and disrupt its Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to deepen China's economic ties with countries in the region.
Overall, from China's perspective, NATO's visit to South Korea and Japan is likely to be viewed as part of a broader US-led effort to contain China's rise and undermine its interests in the region.