December 8, 2023

ChatGPT is capable of doing many things for people these days, but I had never imagined that you could use it to win the lottery. And yet that’s precisely what a man from Thailand claims to have done and it’s allegedly worked more than once. Granted, he didn’t bring home the top prize in the Megamillions, but the principle should still be the same. (His prize worked out to around 59 U.S. dollars.) So can this be real? Here’s the original reference published by Interesting Engineering.

A man has made headlines worldwide for claiming that he managed to win the lottery using numbers provided by the AI chatbot ChatGPT.

This is according to a report by Mashable published this month.

Patthawikorn Boonrin took to TikTok to announce that he put a few hypothetical questions and some winning numbers from previous years in the system. He received a few winning numbers from the chatbot. These were 57, 27, 29, and 99.

Interestingly, before forking over the winning numbers, Boonrin said that the chatbot cautioned him not to get drawn into any sort of gambling addiction and reminded him to go out and get some exercise. It also informed him that the lottery is based on luck.

If ChatGPT were actually able to accurately predict lottery numbers, that would be the end of the lottery. We can debate whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing another day. I would expand that argument to say that if the AI can accurately predict the future for anything it would be disastrous. If the AI does somehow make it to AGI levels and starts getting out of control, how do you defeat something that knows what you’re going to do in advance?

But I refuse to accept that it’s possible. I’ve asked ChatGPT about its algorithms many times and it uses random number generators. So this guy simply got lucky… literally. Also, asking the bot for lottery numbers sounds like something a lot of people might think to try. There are millions of people using it at any given moment. If a few hundred thousand of them tried this for several weeks in a row, the bot was bound to spit out a winning set of numbers eventually.

After reading this story, I couldn’t resist logging in and trying a few ways to ask ChatGPT to set me up with some winning numbers. I had a very different experience than Mr. Boonrin. I first asked the bot what the six most likely numbers to be drawn in the New York Lotto would be on any given evening. It refused, explaining that the probability of any given number being drawn is equal. We then got into a brief debate about the fact that the lottery uses ping pong balls instead of a digital random number generator and whether some balls with small physical differences might be more or less likely to emerge.

Finally, I gave up and just asked it to use its own random number generator and give me six non-repeating whole numbers between 1 and 59. It told me, ‘Sure, here are six random numbers in that range.’ But it concluded with a warning that the numbers were random and “have no relationship to any past or future lottery draws.” So it was clearly still responding to previous parts of the conversation. I’ll pick up a ticket and let you know how ChatGPT did on Wednesday.