Research Roundup: Post-COVID hangovers, ChatGPT’s human-like behavior and more

Research Roundup: Post-COVID hangovers, ChatGPT’s human-like behavior and more

The Daily’s Academics desk will publish a weekly digest of various impactful research publications and developments connected with Stanford. Read the Research Roundup for the week of Feb. 25 to Mar. 2.

Newest ChatGPT model can behave and make decisions like humans

A recent Stanford study found that ChatGPT 4 displays behaviors similar to those of humans when faced with options to behave altruistically. 

Researchers presented the chatbot with scenarios designed to test whether it would behave cooperatively. For example, ChatGPT had to decide whether to split money with a partner or expose a criminal accomplice. The results were then compared to over 100,000 human respondents from 50 countries. 

The researchers scored the model’s displayed personality traits using the OCEAN Big-5 scale, which ranks behaviors based on five major characteristics. Authors found that ChatGPT 4 scored well within normal human ranges, aside from agreeableness. However, the chatbot exhibits less creativity and diversity in decision-making, since it was designed to mimic average human behaviors.

This type of investigation is commonly known as a Turing test, in which artificial intelligence is considered to have “passed” if its behaviors are deemed indistinguishable from those that humans would make. 

“It’s important for us to understand how interactions with AI are going to change our behaviors and how that will change our welfare and our society,” said economics professor Matthew Jackson Ph.D. ’88, a senior author of the paper, in a press release. 

Doerr School leads project to build carbon-free grid in U.S.

Stanford researchers will lead a coalition of 22 research institutions in helping cities and communities eliminate carbon dioxide pollution from the electric grid. The team, brought together by the “Equitable, Affordable & Resilient Nationwide Energy System Transition” (EARNEST) project largely funded by the United States Department of Energy, aims to pave the way for a fully decarbonized grid by 2035. 

Associate professor of energy science and engineering Inês Azevedo, the EARNEST project’s lead principal investigator, will guide 65 senior researchers and additional graduate and postdoctoral scholars. 

“We must consider that there may be different impacts across communities and ensure the benefits or burdens are not overwhelmingly falling on one group. That’s the challenge EARNEST aims to address,” Azevedo told Stanford News.

The project will use data surveys of diverse communities across the United States to formulate models for allowing safe and efficient transitions to decarbonized energy. EARNEST will keep energy justice as a top priority, seeking input from low-income and disadvantaged communities to ensure a successful implementation of clean energy. 

Azevedo sees promise in the project. “It’s really one of those examples where we’ll need to bring everyone together to enable a successful transition. The work still lies ahead. We’re just getting started,” she said.

Stanford study leads to FDA approval of first-of-its-kind allergy treatment drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an injection-based drug for use in allergy-related risk prevention, after a Stanford-led research study found that the drug omalizumab (Xolair) proved effective in reducing reactions to allergy-triggering foods.

Omalizumab is the first drug that provides reliable protection against severe reactions to exposure to allergens. It also reduces the severity of symptoms that do appear. 

To gain effective protection, patients will need to take regular injections every two to four weeks. The injection removes allergic symptom-inducing chemicals from the bloodstream, interfering with the antibodies that attack allergens. 

“There is a real need for treatment that goes beyond vigilance and offers choices for our food-allergic patients,” associate professor of medicine and pediatrics Dr. Sharon Chinthrajah told the Marin Independent Journal. Chinthrajah is the paper’s senior author and the director of the Center for Allergy and Asthma Research.

Following FDA approval, omalizumab will be available for prescription by family physicians.

COVID-19 infection now linked to greater alcohol sensitivity

Stanford’s Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome Clinic (PACS) discovered a link between contracting COVID-19 and experiencing stronger reactions to alcohol. The peer-reviewed study sheds new light on an aspect of COVID-19 that has otherwise received little investigation and funding. 

The study focused on COVID-19 patients who reported severe drops in alcohol tolerance after contracting the virus. Some accounts include immobility, severe headaches, fatigue and strong hangovers after drinking small amounts of alcohol. 

Researchers found that a virus like COVID-19 weakens the body’s natural protection against pathogens impacting the brain. As a result, the body becomes much more sensitive to alcohol after the infection.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *