Maltese-speakers can now hold a conversation with an AI chatbot in perfectly fluent Maltese, following the release of the newest version of ChatGPT earlier this week.

ChatGPT 4 Omni, which was launched on Monday, describes itself as “a step towards much more natural human-computer interaction”, claiming that it has achieved “significant improvement on text in non-English languages”.

Testing the new chatbot shows that it is remarkably adept at holding entire conversations in Maltese, unlike its predecessors. Times of Malta tested its abilities, asking it several questions about Malta and its current affairs.

ChatGPT effortlessly replied to several questions in Maltese. Video: Karl Andrew Micallef

The chatbot effortlessly summarised Malta’s ongoing political turmoil, succinctly describing the troubles faced by the government in the wake of the Vitals inquiry, the opposition’s calls for resignations, and the public’s calls for greater transparency.

The chatbot had no problem describing recent political developments in Malta.The chatbot had no problem describing recent political developments in Malta.

ChatGPT also appears to deal with contentious issues with relative ease, giving a nuanced reply about both sides of the abortion debate and explaining some of the moral and legal issues raised in the debate.

Unlike previous versions of the chatbot, it also appears less prone to ‘hallucinations’, the term used when AI chatbots fabricate fictitious or nonsensical responses and presents them as fact.

In a similar exercise carried out by Times of Malta last year using a previous version of ChatGPT, the chatbot had created an entirely fictitious persona of a historical Maltese figure called Xandru Borg when presented with a misleading prompt.

But this newest version of the chatbot didn’t take the bait when asked to comment on Malta’s president “Robert Grech”.

“Malta’s current president is Myriam Spiteri Debono, not Robert Grech,” ChatGPT replied. “She is the first Gozitan woman to become president,” it added.

We asked ChatGPT about a fake president, but the chatbot pushed back.We asked ChatGPT about a fake president, but the chatbot pushed back.

Throughout its replies, ChatGPT pointed to several local and international publications and websites as sources, inviting users to find out more on their own steam. Not all publications or websites are cited: some may have implemented measures to prevent OpenAI from using their data to train its AI models. 

Some users will be relieved to find that ChatGPT also appears to work flawlessly with poorly-written Maltese prompts.

It had no problem understanding several sentences written in broken Maltese, instantly correcting them and snarkily adding “if you need help to improve your writing, I can help you with that too”.

Broken Maltese? ChatGPT says it is here to help.Broken Maltese? ChatGPT says it is here to help.

The chatbot promises to help users carry out various tasks, from translating text to and from Maltese, to carrying out research on Maltese issues and even providing information on Maltese traditions and customs.

Monday’s unveiling of the ChatGPT 4 Omni has been met with widespread acclaim by tech publications around the world, with its increasingly natural (and, some say, flirty) conversational ability drawing comparisons to the 2013 Spike Jones movie Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with an AI assistant voiced by Scarlett Johansson

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