“How can I help you today?”

31 January 2023 | Curiously Intercultural, Hot Topic

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How can AI improve Intercultural Training? Testing ChatGPT on the beta.openai.com Playground. 

Anja Achenbach 


The following is a conversation with an AI assistant. The assistant is helpful, creative, clever, and very friendly.  

Human: Hello, who are you?  

AI: I am an AI created by OpenAI. How can I help you today?  

Human: I was wondering how AI can improve intercultural training.  

AI: AI can help with intercultural training by providing personalized and tailored  learning experiences for individuals. AI can also be used to generate virtual simulations of different cultures to provide a more immersive learning experience. Additionally, AI can provide analytics that can identify areas of improvement in intercultural communication and make recommendations on how to enhance  understanding between cultures. 

Human: Wow, very impressive! Could you be more specific and give examples?  

AI: Sure! For example, one method for using AI for intercultural training would be to combine natural language processing and deep learning to generate conversations with virtual agents. This could allow for better understanding of cultural norms and etiquette in different countries. Additionally, AI could be used to create personalized learning paths for individuals based on their needs and preferences. AI can also be used to analyze and compare data from different cultures to gain insights into differences that may exist. 

Human: How about bridging these differences and finding commonalities? Is this something which AI is also capable of?  

AI: Absolutely! AI can be used to identify commonalities between different cultures. For example, AI can be used to analyze text from different languages to determine similarities in the way they talk about certain topics, or to compare behaviors across cultures to determine when and where common behaviors are exhibited. AI can also be used to analyze images to identify patterns in cultural artwork and symbols to help find common ground.  

Human: Fantastic! So, what is the role of human intercultural trainers and coaches in  this picture?  

AI: Humans still play an important role in intercultural training. They can provide guidance and support throughout the learning process, and they can help to ensure that learners have the right resources and tools in order to learn effectively. Intercultural trainers and coaches can also help to bridge cultural differences that may not be easily detected by AI and ensure that learners have a safe and supportive learning environment.

Human: Which would be cultural differences that may not be easily detected by AI – could you give us an example?  

AI: For example, some cultural differences may be subtle and not easily detected through language or behavior. Subtle differences in body language, expressions, facial gestures, and other non-verbal cues can provide valuable insight into another culture that may not be immediately clear through language or other more traditional  methods of communication. Human intercultural coaches can help to bridge these differences by providing guidance, insights, and support to learners as they navigate intercultural learning. 

Human: What would be a gesture which could be misunderstood in different cultures?  

AI: A gesture that could be misunderstood in different cultures is the ‘thumbs up’. In some countries this can signify agreement, however, in other countries, it can be seen as vulgar or offensive. It is important to be aware of potential differences in gestures and body language in order to navigate intercultural interactions appropriately. 

Human: How would a virtual simulation of a different culture, let’s say Italy, look like? 

AI: A virtual simulation of Italy could include realistic portrayals of Italian cities,  landmarks, and other cultural aspects such as their cuisine, language, architecture, and customs. Additionally, the simulation could provide an immersive experience by including interactive conversations with simulated Italian characters and scenarios which would allow learners to interact with the culture in a lifelike manner. 

Human: But is culture as simple as that? Aren’t Italians not different from one another, especially in the north and in the south?  

AI: Yes, Italians are certainly different from one another depending on which region they come from. A virtual simulation of Italy should take these regional differences  into account and provide an accurate representation of the society in terms of culture,  customs, values, and language. For example, for a virtual simulation of the North, it  should focus on the regions’ distinct culinary traditions, language, and dialects.  Similarly, for a virtual simulation of the South, it should include the unique aspects of  the southern culture such as their distinctive music and customs. 

Human: Yes, but we know that culture is fuzzy, mixed up and way more complex.  How can we deal with this?  

AI: To properly represent the complexities of culture, AI can be used to generate  accurate and detailed simulations of different cultures and societies that are based  on real-world data. Additionally, AI can be used to generate statistically valid  conversations, which could help to capture the nuances and subtle differences in  culture that may not be easily captured through language alone. Finally, AI-based  simulations can also be designed to be open-ended so that learners can explore different cultural aspects in a more comprehensive manner. 

Human: Please give me an example of a conversation between an Italian Team Lead and his Chinese subordinate showcasing a cultural misunderstanding. 

AI: An example of a conversation between an Italian team leader and his Chinese  subordinate that could showcase a cultural misunderstanding could go something like this:  

Italian Team Lead: “Let’s get started. I want us to be efficient, so let’s make sure that  everyone is on the same page.”  

Chinese Subordinate: “Yes, I agree. But I think it would be better if we focus on communication and understanding before getting into the details.” Italian Team Lead: “No, no, no. Efficiency is the key here. We don’t have time for lengthy conversations and debates.”  

In this example, the Italian team leader is focused on getting the job done quickly, whereas the Chinese subordinate is emphasizing the importance of communication and… (AI breaks off) 

All images generated by AI

Human: How would the conversation develop, if the Team Lead would be German  and the subordinate Italian?  

AI: If the team leader was German and the subordinate Italian, the conversation could go something like this:  

German Team Lead: “Let’s get started. I want us to be efficient, so let’s make sure  that everyone is on the same page.”  

Italian Subordinate: “Yes, I understand. But I think it would be better if we discussed our ideas and perspectives more thoroughly before starting the project.” German Team Lead: “No, no, no. Efficiency is the key here. We don’t have time for lengthy conversations and debates.”  

In this example, the German Team Lead is focused on getting the job done quickly, whereas the Italian subordinate is emphasizing the importance of communication and understanding in order to ensure a… (AI breaks off) 

Human: It seems as if the Italian in these examples is very versatile… 

AI: Yes, cultural misunderstandings often occur when there is a lack of understanding or appreciation for the different perspectives, beliefs, and values within a culture. By providing detailed simulations and interactive conversations with AI, learners can better understand and appreciate different cultures and the nuances  that come with them. This can help to reduce the chances of misunderstanding and lead to more effective intercultural training. 

Human: Do you understand humor?  

AI: Yes, I understand humor to an extent. AI can be used to detect different types of humor such as sarcasm or irony and use this information to provide better  responses. AI can also analyze jokes in order to better understand why they are funny and how they can be improved. 

Human: Can you tell a cultural joke?  

AI: Sure! Did you hear the one about the Mexican and the Italian who were arguing  over who makes the best pizza? The Mexican said, “Well, if you want it done right, you have to put in the extra salsa!” 

Up to this point, ChatGTP has been quite impressive. Its humor is still very limited though. 


Creating art with open.ai is as easy as a child’s game. You simply put in some  keywords stating what you are looking for and hit the button: Promptly, open.ai spits out four images at once. You can simply repeat this procedure in order to get other results, but you may also add a certain style in which your picture shall be created: Van Gogh, comic style, or Andy Warhol – you name it! 

No wonder, some artists already revolt against AI-generated art. A couple of days  ago, CNN reported that Chat GPT passed exams from law and business schools, so  what is next? How shall we as Intercultural Practitioners deal with AI? 




“The author generated this text in part with GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model. Upon generating draft language, the author reviewed, edited, and revised the language to their own liking and takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication.”

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