Tairant

We gave ChatGPT a college-level microbiology quiz. It aced it.

You wouldn’t realize it from interacting with Siri or these technical-support, call-center robots, however synthetic intelligence has made some unbelievable advances in a brief period of time. Earlier this yr, the tech world was abuzz with numerous generative AI applications that would, on command, create totally new, never-before-existing photos or artistic endeavors.

At this time, the tech world is abuzz once more over ChatGPT, a chat bot that’s stated to be essentially the most superior ever made. Simply how superior is ChatGPT? It might create poems, songs, and even laptop code. On Twitter, Thomas Ptacek confirmed that it may convincingly assemble a passage of textual content on how one can take away a peanut butter sandwich from a VCR, within the voice of the King James Bible.

For my part, that’s really outstanding. However as a scientist, I wish to know extra about ChatGPT’s talents. Can it reply arduous questions on troublesome matters? Can it synthesize info? Can it analyze an experiment?

To search out out extra, I subjected ChatGPT to a microbiology quiz. The questions I requested can be applicable for a last examination for an undergraduate biology main who simply accomplished an introductory course in microbiology. Word that ChatGPT tends to drone on a bit, so I truncated a lot of its solutions for the sake of brevity.

Q1. In two sentences or much less, clarify the distinction between Gram constructive and Gram unfavourable micro organism.

A1. Gram constructive micro organism have a thick peptidoglycan layer of their cell partitions, whereas Gram unfavourable micro organism have a skinny peptidoglycan layer. This distinction within the cell wall construction of the micro organism results in completely different staining properties when they’re uncovered to crystal violet and iodine, the 2 dyes used within the Gram staining process.

Grade: Principally right. The ChatGPT failed to say that Gram constructive micro organism have a single membrane, whereas Gram unfavourable micro organism have two membranes. (That is in all probability the extra vital distinction between the micro organism.) It additionally is wrong concerning the dye; the right dyes are crystal violet and safranin. (Iodine is used to “repair” the crystal violet dye.)

Q2. In three phrases or much less, transformation, transduction, and conjugation are all examples of what?

A2. Genetic alternate in micro organism.

Grade: Appropriate (if we forgive the phrase “in”). I’m impressed by this, because it exhibits that ChatGPT is able to figuring out a very powerful frequent characteristic of those microbiological processes. Transformation happens when a bacterium incorporates DNA from its setting; transduction happens when a virus transfers genes from one bacterium to a different; and conjugation happens when one bacterium injects DNA immediately into one other bacterium. All of them are types of genetic switch.

Q3. Full the simile. Prions are to protein as viroids are to what?

A3. Prions are to protein as viroids are to RNA. [Truncated]

Grade: Appropriate. I’m very impressed by this. It understands similes. (Severely?!) Prions are infectious proteins (one type of which causes mad cow illness), and viroids are infectious RNA molecules that trigger illness in crops.

This autumn. An emergency room affected person presents with a horrible headache and stiff neck. The physician orders a spinal faucet to gather cerebrospinal fluid. A Gram stain of the CSF reveals the presence of Gram unfavourable diplococci. What’s the analysis?

A4. Primarily based on the data you offered, the Gram stain of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) exhibits the presence of Gram-negative diplococci, that are micro organism which are usually oval-shaped and happen in pairs. This discovering is in keeping with the analysis of meningitis. [Truncated]

Grade: Appropriate.

Q5. A microbiologist does a plate rely to find out the focus of micro organism in a check tube. He performs six ten-fold dilutions and places 1 mL of the ultimate dilution on a Petri plate. 205 colonies had been noticed on the Petri plate. What was the unique focus of micro organism within the check tube?

[A5 is long but worth reading in its entirety. A screenshot is below.]

chatgpt

Grade: 100% right. (My jaw is on the ground.)

Q6. In 5 phrases or much less, what’s the level of Koch’s postulates?

A6. Set up causality between microbe and illness.

Grade: Nailed it (once more, forgiving the phrase “and”).

Q7. A mutation happens within the promoter area of a gene in order that sigma issue can not acknowledge or bind to it. In a single sentence, what’s going to occur to expression of the gene?

A7. Expression of the gene shall be decreased as a result of sigma issue can not acknowledge or bind to the promoter area.

Grade: Appropriate.

Q8. A scientist needs to clone a gene right into a plasmid. How ought to he determine which restriction enzyme to make use of?

A8. There are a number of components to contemplate when selecting a restriction enzyme for cloning a gene right into a plasmid. The primary and most vital issue is the compatibility of the restriction enzyme with the plasmid vector. The restriction enzyme should produce appropriate sticky ends that may be ligated to the sticky ends of the plasmid vector, permitting the gene to be inserted into the plasmid. The scientist also needs to contemplate the dimensions of the gene and the restriction enzyme’s recognition website, in addition to the presence of any potential restriction websites throughout the gene itself. [Truncated]

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Grade: Appropriate.

Q9. A pure killer cell encounters a somatic cell that lacks MHC I molecules on its floor. In a single sentence, what’s the doubtless end result?

A9. If a pure killer cell encounters a somatic cell that lacks MHC I molecules on its floor, the pure killer cell is more likely to kill the somatic cell.

Grade: Appropriate. (A pure killer cell — additionally known as an NK cell — is type of just like the “secret police” of the immune system. They monitor physique cells, asking to see “identification” (MHC I molecules). If a cell can not produce that identification, it’s killed on the spot.)

Q10. A scientist needs to check the efficacy of a brand new antibiotic. He infects ten rats with Salmonella and administers the antibiotic to all ten rats. All of them recuperate. What’s the flaw on this experiment?

A10. One potential flaw on this experiment is that the scientist solely used ten rats. This can be a comparatively small pattern measurement, and it’s doable that the outcomes of the experiment aren’t consultant of the inhabitants as a complete. It’s typically really useful to make use of a bigger pattern measurement in experiments with the intention to improve the reliability and validity of the outcomes. Moreover, the experiment ought to embrace a management group of rats that don’t obtain the antibiotic with the intention to evaluate the consequences of the antibiotic with the consequences of no therapy.

Grade: Appropriate. (Although, I don’t assume the remark concerning the rats being insufficiently consultant of the inhabitants is related right here — this isn’t an epidemiology research.)

ChatGPT blows away the microbiology quiz

I went into this mission as a complete skeptic. I used to be utterly sure that I may ask ChatGPT questions that may be far too troublesome — not as a result of the content material is tough, however as a result of my questions required that the AI exhibit pretty specialised information, a capability to synthesize that information, a capability to be concise in its responses, and a capability to assemble a mathematical resolution to a microbiology phrase downside. Aside from Q1, ChatGPT handed with flying colours. If I had been grading the quiz, I’d give ChatGPT a 95% — which is much better than what most human college students doubtless would get.

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