December 18, 2020

10 tech luminaries in conversation (as imagined by GPT-3)

We asked GPT-3, OpenAI's powerful new language generator, to imagine conversations between 10 tech leaders.

John Thornhill

8 min read

GPT-3 is a scarily powerful language generation model developed by OpenAI, the San Francisco research company, that has made a big splash in the artificial intelligence world this year.

At a cost of about $12m, OpenAI trained GPT-3 (standing for generative pre-trained transformer 3) on a huge data set of text taken off the internet. The deep learning model is capable of extremely fast pattern recognition and replication, whether applied to text, code or musical notation, that appears spookily authentic.

Some of Silicon Valley’s most famous entrepreneurs and, more recently, Microsoft, have committed $2bn of funding to OpenAI. Critics argue that GPT-3 risks flooding the world with “semantic garbage” and fuelling disinformation.


But OpenAI’s researchers are most excited by GPT-3’s potential to boost human productivity and creativity by writing computer code or drafting emails. Some 2,000 researchers, who have been given access to GPT-3 via a controlled private beta test, have been experimenting with its possibilities, with astonishingly good, but predictably bad results. 

One of these developers, Sid Bharath, cofounder and CEO of Vancouver-based Broca, fed some conversational prompts drafted by Sifted into GPT-3 (in italics below) and instructed it to continue the dialogues between some of tech’s biggest names (in bold). The replies have not been edited in any way. Enjoy! 

Conversation 1: Anne Boden vs. Tom Blomfield

Anne Boden: Hey, how’s your business going? Made any money yet?

Tom Blomfield: Doing really well thanks. Tough environment, but doing well. 

Anne Boden: Don’t you wish you stayed at Starling rather than launching that coup against me? We are doing brilliantly here.

Tom Blomfield: No thanks, very happy at Monzo. Conquering the world.

Anne Boden: What did you think of my book? #sorrynotsorry

Tom Blomfield: It was good. You seemed very hard on us though.

Anne Boden: Don’t be silly, it wasn’t about you. It was about the industry. I don’t know why you thought I was going to slag you off, I am a far bigger fan of you than I am of Lloyds Bank.

Tom Blomfield: I’m glad to hear it. I am a massive fan of you.

Anne Boden: You know I actually really wanted you to stay with Starling.

Tom Blomfield: I thought you didn’t want me to?

Anne Boden: Well it would have been better for me if you had stayed. But it was your life and you did what you wanted. I wish you had come and worked here though.

Tom Blomfield: I couldn’t, but thank you.

Conversation 2: Margrethe Vestager vs. Sundar Pichai

Margrethe Vestager: Hey Sundar, how’s it going? How’s your unfair global monopoly at Google treating you?

Sundar Pichai: Good one Margrethe. But seriously, we don’t have one and can you please stop the European Commission going after us?

Margrethe Vestager: No. I think you should take more legal responsibility for content posted on your site and you need “play fair” rules when you host smaller companies and compete directly with them.

Sundar Pichai: We may have to agree to disagree here. But I am keen to work with you in Artificial Intelligence and GDPR was pretty good in the end.

Margrethe Vestager: Don’t try and flatter me Sundar.

Sundar Pichai: Ok, I will be direct then. How about we host your services at Google and charge you a percentage of our billions of dollars of revenues and then sponsor your activities to show our commitment to a free and open internet.


And how about we donate 1 billion USD worth of advertising to your charity arm?

Margrethe Vestager: We don’t want any of that. We want to reform you, not buy you.

Sundar Pichai: So what do you want Margrethe?

Margrethe Vestager: I want the European people to see that we are doing something about monopolies that have too much power and are abusing it. Google has to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Sundar Pichai: Ok, we are compliant with GDPR and would have been even if GDPR had not existed.

Margrethe Vestager: I know you would have been compliant. I don’t think you have been as compliant as you could have been though.

Sundar Pichai: What do you mean? We have been very compliant and I can personally assure you of that.

Margrethe Vestager: Ok, I will give you the benefit of the doubt on that for now.

Sundar Pichai: Thank you. Can I offer you a cookie?

Margrethe Vestager: Yes, I’ll take one.

Sundar Pichai: Here you go.

Margrethe Vestager: These are great. I don’t even have to ask you directly for these. You just offer them up.

Sundar Pichai: Yes, but there are only 20 million of them in Europe compared to over a billion in the rest of the world.

Conversation 3: Masayoshi Son vs Adam Neumann

Masayoshi Son: Adam, it’s been a long time. I want you to know that I still love and respect you despite everything. 

Adam Neumann: Hello, that’s great, but also you also owe me $970m from that $3bn WeWork tender offer you pulled out of the other month. See you in court.

Masayoshi Son: I think you are a smart, aggressive guy and that the whole nightmare was partly my mistake for handing you $18bn. 

Adam Neumann: Stop being nice! Our once beautiful relationship is ruined thanks to your abuse of power. And where is my money! 

Masayoshi Son: I’ll never forget what we had.

Adam Neumann: I won’t let you forget that the Moelis deal would have destroyed your WeWork net assets. And where is my money!

Masayoshi Son: Before we met, WeWork was a $400m business valued at $4bn and now worth $20bn. I acted in good faith and gave you a seven-year $4bn+ support package to allow you to exploit your disruptive model. Where is my money!!’

Adam Neumann: The 18 months we were together were the most magical of my life. I remember the day we first went public together, 1 November 2017. It’s like it was yesterday. You looked deep into my eyes and told me that no matter what would come in the future we’d always be together. And then the next day you dumped me on the New York stock exchange!

Masayoshi Son: Trade wars, macroeconomic strains, tougher IPO markets, employee costs, crazy valuations, competition and distraction from your friends. And where is my money?

Adam Neumann: I don’t want to talk about our relationship anymore. It makes me too sad. But I must ask: Are you still in love with me?

Masayoshi Son: Yes, yes, every day.

Conversation 4: Daniel Ek vs Tim Cook

Daniel Ek: Hey, Tim. I really don’t like paying your 30% Apple tax.

Tim Cook: Tough. Spotify knew the terms when you signed up. We’ve sent a lot of revenue your way.

Daniel Ek: But there are a lot of developers who think the same way. You have to change the terms. Apple gets a bigger cut than they do.

Tim Cook:  It’s their choice whether or not they want to use the Apple platform.

Daniel Ek: Well, the EU is investigating. And a Biden administration is likely to intervene too.

Tim Cook: Bring it on. We have good lawyers and have already seen off the EU over tax.

Daniel Ek:  Tim, I’m not trying to negotiate with you. I know you don’t play those games. But you need to drop your fees. Apple is going to be on the losing end of all of this.

Tim Cook:  Ek, you have a very naive view.  We’re not going to just roll over and let you push us around.  I can assure you that won’t happen.

Daniel Ek:  Tim, you are literally destroying your reputation as a defender of consumers and switching to revenue maximization as soon as the situation looks tough.

Tim Cook: How ridiculous. We’re the most profitable company in history and Apple Music is the number one music streaming service on the globe.  You won't beat us.  If you want to play by our rules, you get to play.  Otherwise just stop complaining and using our platform.

Daniel Ek:  You need to seriously consider this, Tim. Your position is increasingly precarious. We’re going to win.

Tim Cook: Good luck fighting us, Ek. We are an unstoppable force that will eat you for breakfast.

Daniel Ek: Ok, have it your way. But you’ll come to regret it eventually. You are making a mistake.  Yet again...

Tim Cook:  Go whine to the EU. It won’t help you none.

Conversation 5: Sonali De Rycker vs Luciana Lixandru

Sonali De Rycker: Hi Luciana, how is the new job at Sequoia? 

Luciana Lixandru: It’s great, thanks. Sorry about leaving you at Accel.

Sonali De Rycker: No worries. So I guess you don’t want any of that carry from that UI Path deal then?

Luciana Lixandru: Very funny. But seriously, Sequoia hiring in Europe is a big deal for the local tech ecosystem. Sequoia-backed Apple, Google and YouTube you know.

Sonali De Rycker: Yes, I know. I think that together we can help create the next generation of global European tech champions. 

Luciana Lixandru: I love the sound of that! I would love to be part of the next generation of European tech champions. 

Sonali De Rycker: Ok. Let’s make it happen.

Luciana Lixandru: What does that entail?

Sonali De Rycker: First of all you need to go and meet as many of the top tech founders in your region as possible.

Luciana Lixandru: Can I meet you too once I’m doing that?

Sonali De Rycker: Yes of course, but I have lots of meetings with people on the ground, not all of which are gonna be founders. I wanna find companies which might be a strategic fit for Accel.

Luciana Lixandru: Ok, I see what you mean. Why don't we just call it VC 2.0 - the Sequoia of Europe?

Sonali De Rycker: Sounds a little arrogant to me. But ok. We can call it that.

John Thornhill

John Thornhill is Sifted’s editorial director and cofounder. He is also innovation editor of the Financial Times, and tweets from @johnthornhillft