It can answer questions so accurately that it's legitimately scary
It will be just as scary when it's wrong, but many won't realize until the consequences™ come.
Would a bot such as this one change the future of question and answer sites?
With the benefit of hindsight, to a degree, yes, of course, and to some degree, they'll continue to do so.
For context, this post's original revisions took a much more defensive stance, viewing the question from an angle of "how useful would it be for AI-generated answers be posted on Stack Exchange?" My previous answer focused heavily on need for quality in questions, and my defense for the continuing value of the Stack Exchange network was based on "garbage in, garbage out"- both for questions and source/training data:
If someone doesn't know how to ask a good question, they're going to have a harder time getting a good answer from an LLM tool.
For any new field with less information about it included in LLM training data and less SEO juice to get good info found in web search results, likelihood of a LLM + search engine giving useful results is probably going to be low.
A year has passed, and the aspect of this question that I find interesting has changed. Concerning the future of Stack Exchange, my new interest is in the net benefits this technology has provided / is providing- not on the whole world, but here.
could this be a way to accurately answer questions that are on any of the Stack Exchange sites?
Sure? (to an extent.) Nowadays, there are hybrids of search engines and LLMs, so all it needs to do is do a web search, and basically churn and regurgitate any existing answer content.
I've heard tons of people online and my friends say that they find technologies like ChatGPT to be a useful tool for getting answers to questions. Many of them who have newbie experience on Stack Exchange comment that they prefer it over Stack Exchange so they don't have to deal with grumpy experts.
That's what ChatGPT is good at: service with a smile, all the time.
People like that. Traffic has certainly declined (see Did Stack Exchange's traffic go down since ChatGPT?).
Okay, so how the heck do I see benefit in that?
Dealing with problematic question content is costly. It costs time, and it costs patience. It costs that to deal with questions that are missing key details, questions that are (for lack of better description) just a mess, questions that are duplicates, questions where potential for long-term value is covered in three feet of unnecessary context (and usually the hidden gem has already been asked before), etc. And each of those categories abound endlessly. Deal with it enough and it sucks the joy out of building a long-term knowledgebase.
ChatGPT and similar technologies do two things for that:
It "tricks" people into doing research and basic troubleshooting.
I say "trick", but really I mean that it masks research-related activities into a form that people find palatable. For some reason, many people either don't like to, or don't know how to google things (not that googling is a pre-requisite for asking a question on Stack Exchange (see How should we deal with Google questions? and Embrace the non-Googlers), but in my experience, it's usually (for question askers) a better search engine than the one built into Stack Exchange sites). But when the search engine is hidden behind a conversation with a machine, suddenly people find it very attractive (I guess the degree of synthesis and summarization (accurate/faithful or not) is also a factor).
This isn't always a productive thing. We all know that an LLM can spit out falsehood as well as it can spit out truth. It can mislead people, and that can result in those people posting weird questions on Stack Exchange (Ex. I'm trying to do X and ChatGPT told me to do Y (which makes no sense)).
But a lot of duplicates are very poor in quality, and less of those is a good thing. It means less curation workload, and less clutter mucking up searchability (bad signposts weigh out good ones). I've also started to see a (very small but hopefully increasing) trend in questions that show actually useful information prompted by conversation with an LLM. While this is slightly disappointing to me, since a lot of basic troubleshooting can be written statically and has no need for neural network involvement, it would seem that many of the people who love this technology are not the type to seek out the loving manual.
It (to some degree) deals with the boring, obscure, one-off requirement dumps / questions that just require a lot of synthesis of basic concepts / questions with a bunch of unnecessary context.
Or at least- that's what it seems to me like people who are trying to develop developer tooling around these technologies are trying to apply it to do.
People are often too lazy to do or just don't know how to do is generalize their questions (de-localize / create things like Minimal Reproducible Examples) while not blowing up the question scope (staying focused), or to break them down into separate questions that are appropriately scoped for Stack Exchange. I don't get an awful lot of those questions in the tags I answer in, so I don't know how much this situation has changed, but I hope that among the classes of questions that are no longer being posted, there are fewer of these.
And in doing those boring things, it doesn't get grumpy. It has no social battery (well, it consumes a heck ton of energy to run, but that's a different can of worms).
I don't particularly care if ChatGPT wastes someone's time with a bunch of unhelpful info.
To the contrary, I welcome any side-effect that this technology has had on reduction in lower-quality question posts / increase in overall quality of question posts on Stack Exchange.
There are potential hidden costs- fewer people using the sites directly means fewer votes (and voting matters), and potentially missing some gems of questions and losing out on them to the machine. But a lot of people can't vote anyway, and I think if a question is useful enough, as long as this platform itself can retain its reputation as a trusted resource, the gems will find their way here.