StackOverflow may be dead

by Zebulun Arendsee

chatGPT may now give better computer advice than humans. Annoying problems, like how to install the latest version of R on an old version of Ubuntu, can be accurately solved by chatGPT. See the following:


how can I install R 4.0 on ubunto 18.02 bionics


To install R 4.0 on Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic, you can follow the steps below:

Open a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T.

Update the package list and upgrade the installed packages by running the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Add the R repository to the system’s package sources list by running the following command:

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb bionic-cran40/" >> /etc/apt/sources.list'

Import the R signing key with the following command:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys E298A3A825C0D65DFD57CBB651716619E084DAB9

Update the package list again by running the following command:

sudo apt update

Install R 4.0 by running the following command:

sudo apt install r-base

Verify that R 4.0 has been installed by running the following command:

R --version

This should display the version number of R installed on your system.

That’s it! You should now have R 4.0 installed on your Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic system.

OK, that is astonishingly specific. The key is actually correct. I double checked the key given by the official R website. The commands generated by chatGPT are not a copy of the official R website. It synthesizes information about the Ubuntu sources list (e.g., bionic-cran40) from elsewhere on the internet and the key from here.

For now, we can query chatGPT like we do google. But eventually these generative AIs may be incorporated into package managers and operating systems. Their suggestions could be immediately run without human curation. They would learn how systems work by reading the documentation. Thus they would serve to propagate knowledge from docs to users. They will need to be critical of what they read, or they could be vulnerable to adversarial documentation exploits.