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ChatGPT in Agriculture: Relevance and Concerns
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ChatGPT in Agriculture: Relevance and Concerns

ChatGPT is a revolutionary technology because it is trained to learn what humans mean when they ask a question

Post by DR. PARVEEN KUMAR on Sunday, March 26, 2023

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Most of us have heard about a Chatbot. A chatbot is a computer program designed to stimulate conversation with human users especially over the internet. It is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand customer questions and automate responses to them stimulating human conversation (either written or spoken). It allows humans to interact with digital devices as if they were communicating with a real person. Now, ChatGPT has emerged as a revolutionary technology and a breakthrough approach in Artificial Intelligence. ChatGPT had more than 1 million users in the first five days after it launched. According to an analysis by Swiss bank UBS; ChatGPT is the fastest-growing app of all time. The analysis estimates that ChatGPT had 100 million active users in January, only two months after its launch. For comparison, it took nine months for TikTok to reach 100 million.


ChatGPT was created by San Francisco-based artificial intelligence company OpenAI. OpenAI Inc. is the non-profit parent company of the for-profit OpenAI LP. OpenAI is famous for its well-known DALL·E, a deep learning model that generates images from text instructions called prompts. The name DALL-E is a blend of Salvador Dali, the famous artist and Pixar's WALL-E movie. ChatGPT derives its name from the family of Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT) language models from which it comes and thus becomes its member. ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM) chatbot developed by OpenAI based on GPT-3.5. It was discovered that increasing the amount of data increased the ability of the language models to do more. Large Language Models are trained with massive amounts of data to accurately predict what word comes next in a sentence. LLMs predict the next word in a series of words in a sentence and the next sentences, a kind of like auto-complete, but at a mind-bending scale. This ability allows them to write paragraphs and entire pages of content.


ChatGPT is a revolutionary technology because it is trained to learn what humans mean when they ask a question. Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback (RLHF) is an additional layer of training that uses human feedback to help ChatGPT learn the ability to follow directions and generate responses that are satisfactory to humans. This gives it a remarkable ability to interact in conversational dialogue form and provide responses that can appear surprisingly human. It’s another beauty is its ability to churn data from different sources and produce mostly unique answers that are usually paraphrased to the same question.






ChatGPT in Agriculture

ChatGPT can help quickly find information, assist in learning new things, function as a translation tool, help business houses improve customer service and vice versa.  This ability of ChatGPT can be exploited in the agriculture sector for providing various advisory and diagnostic services to the farming community.  The ChatGPT text generation model can assist farmers in many ways with daily tasks. It can advise on key aspects of care and management of crops, recommend application of plant protection chemicals, fertilizers and organic manures thereby helping to optimize crop yields. In addition, it has the potential to work out budgetry requirements for establishment of various farming system models, work out the cost benefit ratios for different crops and system, can provide ideas for new prototypes, products or concepts and on various aspects of crop insurance.


ChatGPT can replace the use of traditional search engines. Besides serving the needs of farming communities, ChatGPT can assist various input and service provider companies in the agriculture sector. A research was conducted by a team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Southern California by combining Natural Language Processing (NLP) with an AI-driven chatbot, trained using a GPT-4 language model to create a system designed to reduce agricultural losses. The team tested the system by using it to provide farmers with timely information about weather events, crop diseases, and pest infestations, and evaluated its effectiveness in reducing losses by analyzing the farmers’ responses to the chatbot’s advice. The results showed that on an average, losses decreased by 5.5%, with a maximum of around 16%.


ChatGPT can also be utilized to analyze large amounts of data from various sources related to weather, market, soil and yield parameters which can help to take informed decisions regarding crop and livestock management. Crops and livestock can be monitored using sensors and cameras and help farmers’ detect early signs of disease or stress to allow them to take preventive and anticipatory measures. ChatGPT can be used to automate manual tasks such as planting, harvesting and monitoring crop growth. This ultimately helps farmers’ save considerable time and labour costs. By using weather data, ChatGPT can predict when and how much water to apply to crops, thus can be used to optimize irrigation systems. ChatGPT model can help companies develop new products or improve upon the existing ones. Identification of diverse consumer needs and then coming up with smart innovative solutions is another way in which ChatGPT can prove to be a handy tool for these input and service providers.


Besides, it can also help them in devising more effective marketing strategies and campaigns. It can help identify consumer behavior and preferences and offer better and more targeted marketing opportunities. Given the enormous scope of this technology, the Ministry of Electronics and IT is planning to integrate ChatGPT with WhatsApp to help Indian farmers understand and learn about several government schemes. According to a report, ChatGPT powered WhatsApp chatbot will help users by answering their queries sent through voice notes. It will primarily come handy to those Indian farmers who might not be familiar with typing on smart phones. It is also here noteworthy to mention that that Mr. Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft had also mentioned at the World Economic Forum that Indian farmers would soon be able to utilize a GPT interface to access a government program using the internet.


ChatGPT and concerns

The potential of ChatGPT is enormous and its possibilities are nearly limitless. ChatGPT is still in its infancy and may need years to be a mature tool for farmers. There are apprehensions regarding its application in agriculture. ChatGPT can provide a solution sourced from millions of repositories and materials available online. Its efficiency thus also depends on the quality of the repository too which is uploaded by humans. Incorrect formation uploaded will prove disastrous. So there must be checks and balances in the uploading process. Extension professionals will thus need to put in more efforts to understand agriculture’s dynamic nature before referring the ChatGPT solutions to farmers. The role of extension professionals will therefore involve adding the human dimension to advisories which such technology platforms cannot.


ChatGPT also does not provide sources for its responses. One can never know exactly where the chatbot pulled its information from and can't verify its accuracy by visiting the original source. Another major difference is that ChatGPT only has access to information up to 2021, whereas a regular search engine like Google has access to the latest information. So if you ask ChatGPT anything that happened in 2022, it wouldn't be able to give you a response as other search engine would give. ChatGPT’s limitations also include its inability to answer questions that are worded in a specific way as it requires rewording to understand the input question. Another limitation reported is regarding the lack of quality in the responses it delivers.



(The Author is Faculty at SKUAST-K and can be reached on:  pkumar6674@mail.com)

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