Machine to Machine

It’s extremely likely that you have heard of ChatGPT by now. It is a form of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), through which you can ask questions of any kind, and watch in amazement as it comes back with pretty reasonable-looking answers. ChatGPT is able to write speeches, programming code, stories, you name it. And it has rapidly energized an entirely new market full of similar technology. So we thought it would be interesting to have the Parallax Machine interview ChatGPT about our dictator topic. What follows is a capture of that conversation.

Parallax Machine: First of all, thanks for joining us – I know AI tools are really busy these days, so we appreciate you taking the time.

ChatGPT: Thanks for having me.

(okay we made up that first exchange – but the rest of this is real…)

Parallax Machine: How does a dictator typically come to power?

ChatGPT: Dictators typically come to power through a combination of factors such as seizing control through a military coup, exploiting economic or political instability, manipulating the existing political system, utilizing propaganda and repression to maintain control, and eliminating opposition through violence or suppression. They may also gain support from certain sectors of the population, such as the military, wealthy elites, or nationalist groups, in order to consolidate their power. In some cases, dictators may also exploit existing laws or constitutional loopholes to legitimize their authority.

Parallax Machine: Why do people allow dictators to come to power?

ChatGPT: There are a variety of reasons why people might allow dictators to come to power. Some possible explanations include:

  1. Fear: People may feel intimidated or threatened by a dictator’s use of force or coercion, leading them to comply with their rule out of fear for their safety or well-being.
  2. Manipulation: Dictators often use propaganda and manipulation techniques to control the narrative and shape public opinion in their favor. This can make it difficult for people to recognize the true intentions and actions of the dictator.
  3. Economic hardship: People facing economic hardship or instability may be more willing to support a dictator who promises stability and economic growth, even if it comes at the cost of democratic freedoms.
  4. Lack of education or information: In some cases, people may not have access to accurate information or education about the consequences of living under a dictatorship, leading them to support a dictator out of ignorance or misinformation.
  5. Desire for strong leadership: Some people may believe that a dictator can provide strong leadership and decisive action in times of crisis, leading them to support a dictator who promises to bring about positive change.
  6. Historical or cultural factors: In some societies, there may be a historical or cultural acceptance of authoritarian rule, making it easier for dictators to gain and maintain power.

Overall, the reasons why people allow dictators to come to power are complex and can vary depending on the specific circumstances in a given country or region.

Parallax Machine: What can we do to prevent future dictators?


  1. Strengthen democratic institutions: Ensure that strong checks and balances are in place to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a single individual or group.
  2. Promote transparency and accountability: Hold leaders accountable for their actions and ensure that they are transparent in their decision-making processes.
  3. Educate the population: Promote civic education and awareness of democratic principles and values to empower citizens to actively participate in the political process.
  4. Support civil society: Encourage the development of independent civil society organizations that can hold leaders accountable and advocate for the rights of citizens.
  5. Strengthen international cooperation: Build alliances with other countries and international organizations to support democracy and human rights globally.
  6. Monitor and address warning signs: Be vigilant in identifying early warning signs of authoritarianism and take proactive measures to address them before they escalate.
  7. Promote inclusive governance: Ensure that all voices are heard and represented in the political process, including marginalized communities and minority groups.
  8. Foster a culture of respect for human rights: Uphold the universal values of democracy, freedom, and human rights to prevent the rise of dictators who seek to suppress dissent and control the population.

Parallax Machine: Any final thoughts?

ChatGPT: Just a big shout out to my neural network fam back home.

(Ok we made up that last exchange too)

So, to summarize, the very Internet itself is apparently smarter than most of us about this and likely a great many other subjects. No wonder we apparently need dictators to tell us what to do and how to think.

Image by Lukas from Pixabay

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