When OpenAI first released ChatGPT, I was in the middle of a project on large language model security. My advisor and I discussed, and I pivoted to a security project focused on ChatGPT. For weeks, I worked to reveal its flaws—to uncover its vulnerabilities.

I’m glad I finally stopped.

Back in early 2022, I built a toy language model from scratch. It didn’t do anything fancy—it could barely put together coherent sentences—but I saw potential. I taught it The Art of War and watched it ramble about spies and morale. I fed it Discord transcripts and laughed as it tried to imitate my friends. The night that I finished it, I stayed up until 2:00am just playing around with everything it could do.

When I showed it to the people around me, they fell in love almost as fast as I did, giving me plenty of suggestions on what to do with it. Jon—now the co-host of Jonik—sent me the best ideas by far. Together, we watched this little language model review the anthropocene and explain how it met your mother. I felt bad making him and others wait for me to run the model whenever they sent new training data, so I translated the entire project into JavaScript—the language of the web—and built a website around it. This way, everyone could use it whenever they wanted.

A short while after, I started working in a security lab, and my first project was on how the predecessors of ChatGPT could be actively tricked into saying incorrect statements. My attention turned away from the little language model, and my perspective on language models shifted from embracing strengths to discovering weaknesses. Over the next six months, this was my primary focus, reviewing literature, brainstorming better attack methods, and running experiments, all to demonstrate vulnerability in LLMs. My mentor taught me so much, and on the off chance I had a good idea, we used it. Even if we did end up back at square one, I wouldn’t trade that time for the world.

So when OpenAI released ChatGPT to the world, I wasn’t in the right headspace to appreciate it. Before I even touched it, I pulled up the related literature and started comparing it to the other language models I had studied. The first time I tried ChatGPT, I didn’t ask it anything fun or interesting. I just started feeding it attack prompts, trying to make it mess up.

A few months later, when I was no longer working on the project, I sat down and had a conversation with ChatGPT. I had fun, and part of me remembered the little toy language model I made over a year prior. Hoping to give my language model a chat interface, I asked ChatGPT to help me design the layout. It wrote a beautiful piece of HTML and CSS, and once I added the logic, I had my own little AI chatbot, ChatUMM.

Suddenly, if I dreamed an idea, ChatGPT could help me make it a reality. Furiously flipping through my notebook, I searched for a few ideas for which I had concrete plans. I started explaining them to ChatGPT, copying the web design, and adding my own functionality. In just one day, I had created a clock that tells you how much daylight you have left, a chord converter for ukulelists that can’t transpose, and an infinite monkey typewriter using pi instead of a real monkey. When it was all over, I had ChatGPT design a homepage for all the projects.

That day, ChatGPT became my sunlit forge. If I could figure out what to make and how to share it with the world, ChatGPT gave me the tools to build faster than I ever could have imagined. Unlike an actual person, ChatGPT rarely gave me any good ideas. Instead, I provided the ideas, and ChatGPT offered me a way to realize them. Once I finally let a little light in, my vision cleared, and I did what I do best—I created.

From there, whenever I needed to create a quick website, I would turn back to the sunlit forge. From a podcast website to my own mini image generator, I built it all there. For higher-consequence projects, or ones where I risk violating licenses, I’ll build everything by hand, but so long as this works, I will keep coming back to the sunlit forge.

None of the ChatGPT-assisted websites are perfect. They’re all prototypes, nothing more. On some devices, they don’t work. At some scales, the user interface looks garbled. I have no plans on improving them, because they were never meant to be perfect. All I want is to share my ideas with the world, and doing just that has never been easier.

This AI summer has just begun, so let a little light into your forge.


  1. Me