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Maybe it wasn't a cheat code.

I saw a commercial the other day for this “all in one” entertainment station, where you plug it into a television’s HDMI port, and now you have hundreds of games from the 80s and 90s. You have the likes of Super Mario Brothers 3, the Legend of Zelda, and, of course, Super Tecmo Bowl. As the commercial progressed, one of my favorites, Contra, was shown. Just showing the game triggered an instinct of my fingers maneuvering my imaginary controller in a sequence of up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, and Start. Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the founder of this code, created this pattern that unlocked 30 lives in the game to allow the users to complete the game with a higher probability. Looking back, some would say Kazuhisa gave us a way to cheat by using this code. Others may argue that this code was Kazuhisa giving us a way to improve our chances of beating Kimkoh at the end of the game.

As this game was a form of entertainment, we had the option to use the code or not. We could choose to use the code to improve the probability of winning the game, and it would be visibly known to bystanders watching you shoot aliens. Larry, a neighbor growing up, could quickly come into our living room and see that I had 28 lives left. Unjudgemental and without saying anything, he knew that I has used the code. There was no hiding that I used the code as I progressed through all of the levels shooting aliens. Instead, he had accepted that it was a tool that would get us to Kimkoh faster and improve our chances of beating him.

While using the code, we gradually learned how to get through complex stages of the game without having our commandos killed. Eventually, I was competing with Larry by racing to beat Kimkoh with as few lives spent as possible and within the shortest amount of time. If we would have had insight into trending this performance, we probably would have seen drastic improvements by both of us on a mission to beat Kimkoh.

I have been reading a lot on ChatGPT and have used it a few times as a transitional tool to explore different ways to write something or say something. I remain ethically founded that it should never be used as a copy and paste because it is the output of others' inputs. As a reminder, the inputs of others are only as good as the data that goes in. As someone who embraces data and works with data routinely, you tend to learn from publishing outputs that there is no such thing as perfect data. ChatGPT can be used as another available tool to improve our chances of putting together something that touches corners, expands thought, and encourages conversation.

You might have had another friend growing up, Anthony in my case, that claimed that they progressed through the game and beat Kimkoh without using Kazuhisa’s code. In my neighborhood, this had never been accomplished before Anthony’s claim, so we had to see proof. As we gathered together in his living room, he was challenged to demonstrate this acclaimed skill. As expected, his commandos were killed by aliens quickly securing the hypothesis that no one could beat Contra without the code. He showed that he had not practiced enough with the code to have honed the art of getting through all of the stages of the game without losing the default amount of lives.

Isn’t ChatGPT just a form of up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, and Start? If we acknowledge that it is an available tool to get us closer to a solution, it will make us more effective. Knowing that it is out there and is available to everyone, it is like Larry recognizing that I have 27 lives left at the top of my screen in Contra. It also can be used as Anthony did with Contra, who was put into a situation to replicate his results without the availability of the tool and failed.

ChatGPT is another tool that can be used to hone our creativity steps and improve our efficiencies, but we must maintain a strong ethical foundation. We must detract from ignoring that it can not help, just as much as assuming that others would not use it. We should encourage learning how to use it to improve our efficiencies, while under the context that it is only as good as the data going in. And like Kazuhisa's code, ChatGPT might not be a cheat code.



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