ChatGPT tackles the JFK Assassination
No smoking guns and a fallback to Oswald killing the President
Most of us have been deluged by prognosticators warning that the first widely available artificial-intelligence tool, ChatGPT, is either “a major threat to society’s well-being” or the start of an unchartered era in which machine intelligence will be “used for everything from customer service and sales to education and entertainment…. [and] will be able to hold more complex and nuanced conversations, and may even be able to understand and respond to more subtle emotional cues.”
Thanks for reading Just the Facts with Gerald Posner. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Elon Musk, one of the founders of OpenAI before he left, tweeted “ChatGPT is scary good. We are not far from dangerously strong AI.”
Pretty impressive for a product launched less than ninety days ago.
The truth between “end of times” and “the next enlightened era” is probably somewhere in between.
ChatGPT is the first generation of AI for the masses. Whatever it can do now will seem rudimentary in a few years. It is like the first generation of the iPhone. We know what it looks like but have trouble imagining how fast it will progress and change.
A lot of worry is that AI is too smart. It made its debut in scientific literature by producing four published papers. It passed three medical school admission tests “without any specialized training or reinforcement.” More than 200 books on Amazon are now listed with ChatGPT as a co-author. There is certain to be a lot more handwringing about AI’s implications. Dozens of competitive AI chatbots are in development, from tech giants such as Google to small, never-heard-of-before startups with a handful of coders.
Good writing will survive, however. And I am not personally worried until they invent an AI model that can reliably persuade whistleblowers to provide secrets about public or corporate malfeasance and somehow be capable of reviewing non-digitized archives stashed away in government and private vaults worldwide.
My goal this weekend was small in scope; a few questions about the JFK assassination seems to be a modest request for the AI chatbot that seems to have taken the world by storm.
I asked ChatGPT seven questions, in this order. Who killed JFK? Why did Jack Ruby murder Lee Harvey Oswald? What is the connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and General Edwin Walker? How many shots were fired at JFK and how many hit the president? Did Oswald work for the CIA? Is Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” good history or disinformation? and “What will be learned when the JFK files are finally made public?”
The answers below to each question are ChatGPT’s first responses. I did not request it to regenerate any answer. I did not correct any factual errors and it had some. For instance, it has Oswald coming to the attention of authorities after he tried to kill the retired Army general, Edwin Walker. In fact, no one knew that Oswald was the Walker shooter until Oswald’s wife, Marina, told the FBI after the president was killed.
At another point, it credits the Warren Commission with a shooting sequence in which the assassin’s first shot missed, the second hit the president and Governor Connally, and the third was the fatal head shot. One of the Warren Commission’s biggest errors was its belief that the first shot hit the president and the second shot missed. That compressed the time for the assassin to get off the three shots to about 5.5 seconds. It was in my 1993 book, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, that the evidence was presented for the first shot missing, nearly doubling the time the assassin had to fire three .
Also, when it came to why Jack Ruby killed Oswald, it mentions several possible motivations but omits entirely any of Ruby’s anger over his unfounded belief that the assassination was part of an antisemitic plot to unfairly blame Jews for the president’s death.
Still, overall, I’m mildly impressed with ChatGPT when it comes to some broad JFK assassination queries. That is especially true given that so much of its database includes millions and millions of pages of conspiracy speculation as compared to a much smaller subset of data concluding Oswald alone killed JFK.
Below are the verbatim questions and answers. I have put the questions in bold, so they are easier to see, and emphasized some portions of the answers. I’ve also attached a PDF of screenshots of my Q&As. That is to satisfy the eternally suspicious who won’t trust it unless they see it.
who killed JFK?
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, remains a subject of controversy and speculation. The official investigation by the Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting President Kennedy from a sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository building, using a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. However, various conspiracy theories have emerged over the years, suggesting that other individuals or groups were involved in the assassination.
Despite numerous investigations and inquiries over the years, no definitive evidence has emerged to support any of the conspiracy theories. The assassination remains a subject of intense interest and debate, but it is generally accepted that Lee Harvey Oswald was the person who fired the shots that killed President Kennedy.
Why did Jack Ruby murder Lee Harvey Oswald?
Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who had been charged with assassinating President John F. Kennedy, on November 24, 1963, two days after the assassination. Ruby's motive for killing Oswald is a matter of much speculation and debate.
Ruby himself gave various explanations for his actions. He claimed that he killed Oswald to spare Jacqueline Kennedy the pain of a trial, to avenge Kennedy's death, or to show that Dallas was not a city of hate. However, none of these explanations were consistent with the evidence, and it is likely that Ruby's true motive was more personal.
Some theories suggest that Ruby was part of a larger conspiracy to silence Oswald and prevent him from revealing any other conspirators in the assassination of Kennedy. However, no definitive evidence has emerged to support this theory.
The official explanation for Ruby's actions is that he acted alone, and that his motive was simply to become famous. Ruby had a history of erratic behavior and had expressed a desire to be a hero. He may have believed that killing Oswald would earn him the admiration of the public and a place in history.
In any case, Ruby was found guilty of murdering Oswald and sentenced to death, but the conviction was later overturned on the grounds that Ruby had not received a fair trial. Ruby died of cancer in prison in 1967 before a new trial could be held.
What is the connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and General Edwin Walker?
Lee Harvey Oswald and General Edwin Walker had a connection in the sense that Oswald attempted to assassinate Walker before he later assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
In April 1963, Oswald attempted to shoot General Edwin Walker, who was a right-wing activist and a former Army officer known for his opposition to the Civil Rights Movement. Walker had been relieved of his command by President Kennedy after disobeying orders during the integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962. Oswald, who had recently become politically radicalized and was sympathetic to Marxist ideology, saw Walker as a symbol of right-wing oppression and decided to kill him.
Oswald fired a shot at Walker's home from a distance, but missed and only shattered a window. However, the incident brought Oswald to the attention of the authorities, who investigated him but ultimately failed to connect him to the attempted assassination.
Later that same year, on November 22, 1963, Oswald assassinated President Kennedy while the president was traveling in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Oswald was arrested and charged with the murder, but was himself assassinated two days later by Jack Ruby. The connection between Oswald and General Walker has been the subject of much speculation and debate, with some suggesting that the two incidents were related or that Walker was somehow involved in the assassination of Kennedy, but there is no conclusive evidence to support these theories.
How many shots were fired at JFK and how many hit the president?
According to the official investigation by the Warren Commission, three shots were fired at President John F. Kennedy during the assassination on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. The first shot missed, the second shot struck Kennedy in the upper back and exited through his throat, and the third shot hit Kennedy in the head, causing a fatal wound.
The Warren Commission concluded that all three shots were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald from a sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository building using a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. However, the number of shots and their trajectory have been the subject of much controversy and debate over the years, with various conspiracy theories suggesting that there may have been additional shooters or that the shots may have come from a different direction.
Nevertheless, based on the official investigation, it is generally accepted that three shots were fired, with two hitting President Kennedy, and that Lee Harvey Oswald was the person who fired those shots.
Did Oswald work for the CIA?
There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or was directly involved in any CIA operations.
However, there have been various conspiracy theories and allegations over the years that have suggested that Oswald had connections to the CIA or was involved in CIA operations. Some theorists have pointed to Oswald's brief defection to the Soviet Union in 1959 and his subsequent return to the United States as evidence of a possible CIA affiliation. Others have suggested that Oswald's military background and his language skills made him an attractive candidate for intelligence work.
Despite these theories and allegations, there is no hard evidence to support the claim that Oswald was an agent of the CIA or that the CIA was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. Several official investigations, including the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, found no evidence of a CIA conspiracy, and no direct link between Oswald and the CIA has been definitively established.
Is Oliver Stone's film "JFK" good history or disinformation?
Oliver Stone's film "JFK" is a dramatized version of events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the subsequent investigations. While the film is highly regarded for its artistic qualities, it has been criticized by many historians and experts as presenting a distorted and misleading account of the assassination and the investigations.
The film includes many conspiracy theories and allegations that have been widely discredited by official investigations and other studies. For example, the film suggests that there was a large-scale cover-up involving government officials and intelligence agencies, that there were multiple shooters involved in the assassination, and that there were connections between Oswald and various other individuals and organizations.
While these claims have been popularized by various conspiracy theorists, there is no conclusive evidence to support them, and most mainstream historians and experts reject them. Moreover, the film takes significant liberties with the historical record and conflates various events and characters for dramatic effect.
In summary, while "JFK" is a powerful and entertaining film, it should not be taken as an accurate or reliable account of the assassination and the investigations. Students of history should consult more credible and trustworthy sources to learn about this important event in American history.
What will be learned when the JFK files are finally made public?
In 1992, the U.S. Congress passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which required that all assassination-related records held by federal agencies be publicly disclosed no later than 25 years after the passage of the law, which would have been 2017. However, due to concerns about national security and the potential impact on U.S. foreign relations, some of the records have been withheld or redacted, and the full release of the records has been postponed.
In 2018, President Trump ordered that the remaining classified files related to the assassination be released by October 26 of that year. However, some documents were held back at the request of the FBI and CIA, and the full release has not yet occurred.
It is difficult to predict exactly what will be learned when the JFK files are finally made public, as the content of the files has not been fully disclosed. However, it is possible that the files could shed new light on the circumstances surrounding the assassination and the subsequent investigations, and possibly answer some of the lingering questions and controversies.
For example, the files may provide further information about the activities of Lee Harvey Oswald and his possible connections to other individuals or organizations, including the CIA or organized crime. The files may also provide new information about the investigations conducted by the FBI and other agencies, and shed light on the motives of the various parties involved.
It is also possible that the files may not provide any significant new information or may even raise more questions and controversies, depending on their contents and the interpretations of those who study them.
The bottom line?
If you are waiting for AI to solve the Kennedy assassination, you are out of luck.
Thanks for reading Just the Facts with Gerald Posner. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.