Jo Cook explores whether artificial intelligence is robust enough for the information processing she wants
I’m a geek. I wear that title with pride because the Cambridge dictionary says that a geek is:
“Someone who is intelligent but not fashionable or popular” and “someone who is very interested in a particular subject and knows a lot about it”.
Something that doesn’t often come up in professional circles is that I’m a Superman geek (the Christopher Reeve movies, specifically). I obviously also like other geeky things, one of which is Star Trek. The other half and I have just started watching Deep Space 9 from the beginning and enjoying 90s sci-fi.
One episode included the actor John Glover, well known for playing villains, and who has also been in the Superman TV show Smallville. There are lots of actors that have worked across both franchises, and I thought I’d ask ChatGPT to tell me who they are.
I asked ChatGPT 3.5: “Which actors have been in both the star trek universe and the superman universe on television and film”.
It came back with a good response:
Several actors have crossed over between the Star Trek and Superman universes in television and film. Here are a few examples: - Christopher Lloyd - He portrayed the villainous Klingon Commander Kruge in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" and also appeared in the television series "Superman: The Animated Series" as the voice of The Toyman. - Teri Hatcher - She played Lois Lane in the television series "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and also guest-starred in an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" titled "The Outrageous Okona." - Dean Cain - Cain portrayed Superman/Clark Kent in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and had a cameo appearance in the "Star Trek" series "Star Trek: Enterprise," playing the role of a character named Trennan. These are just a few examples, but there may be others as well.
Useful, but ChatGPT tells me there are other examples. I want to see all of them.
As part of the same conversation I requested to “List all”. And so it responded:
Sure, here's a more comprehensive list of actors who have appeared in both the Star Trek and Superman universes: Christopher Lloyd - Played Commander Kruge in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" and voiced The Toyman in "Superman: The Animated Series." - Teri Hatcher - Portrayed Lois Lane in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and guest-starred in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." - Dean Cain - Played Superman/Clark Kent in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and appeared in "Star Trek: Enterprise." - Phil Morris - Appeared in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," also voiced characters in various Superman animated series. - Marc McClure - Featured in several Superman films as Jimmy Olsen and made appearances in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and "Star Trek: Voyager." - Brian Thompson - Had roles in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Star Trek: Enterprise," and portrayed characters in "Superman: The Animated Series" and "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." These are some notable actors who have appeared in both franchises.
It added some, which is cool. Note that it also changed what it wrote about the previous people, which is interesting that it didn’t directly repeat that information.
But I knew there were others, I wanted to know every single one!
I typed: “You are missing some, list more”.
Certainly, here are more actors who have appeared in both the Star Trek and Superman universes: - Brent Spiner - Known for his role as Data in various Star Trek series and films, he also voiced characters in "Superman: The Animated Series." - Clancy Brown - Appeared in "Star Trek: Enterprise" and voiced characters in various Superman animated series and movies, including the iconic role of Lex Luthor. - Dwight Schultz - Known for his role as Lt. Reginald Barclay in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and other Star Trek series, he voiced several characters in "Superman: The Animated Series." - Michael Dorn - Best known for his role as Worf in various Star Trek series, he voiced Kalibak in "Superman: The Animated Series" and "Justice League." - John de Lancie - Portrayed the mischievous Q in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and other Star Trek series, he voiced the character of Brainiac in various Superman animated series. - Mark Rolston - Appeared in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and various Star Trek films, he also voiced characters in "Superman: The Animated Series." - These are additional actors who have appeared in both franchises.
Excellent, some new ones!
But… it still didn’t include John Glover, who was in the episode I was watching.
I persisted, typing: “That’s not a comprehensive list there are still others”.
You're right; here are more actors who have appeared in both the Star Trek and Superman universes: - William Shatner - Known for his iconic role as Captain James T. Kirk in the original "Star Trek" series and subsequent films, Shatner voiced the character of Jor-El in the animated series "Superman: The Animated Series" and "Justice League Unlimited." - Leonard Nimoy - Renowned for his portrayal of Spock in the original "Star Trek" series and films, Nimoy voiced the character of Galactor in the animated series "Superman: The Animated Series." - George Takei - Best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original "Star Trek" series, Takei voiced the character of Professor Supermind in "The New Adventures of Superman," a segment of the animated series "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure." These additional actors complete the list of those who have appeared in both franchises.
Great that it added more to the answer. What struck me as interesting in this response is that I’ve had to push and push for more listings, and the three included here are amongst the biggest Star Trek names known to many people who aren’t even interested in the franchise.
But still no John Glover! I started a new chat and asked more explicitly: “I want a complete full comprehensive list of every actor that has been in both star trek and superman, in film and television. Do not leave out any actor.”
Sure, here is a comprehensive list of actors who have appeared in both Star Trek and Superman film or television productions: - Christopher Reeve - Teri Hatcher - Dean Cain - Marc McClure - Clifton Collins Jr. - Erick Avari - Dean Stockwell - Michael J. Pollard - Jack Larson This list includes actors who have appeared in various roles in both franchises, whether it be in films or television series.
The list doesn’t include everyone above, it’s got no extra information like the previous answers have. And still no John Glover!
I’ve decided to use the paid version of ChatGPT ($20 US a month) which gives me access to version 4, and asked the same question. This time it went to search Bing and told me that:
Finding a comprehensive list of every actor who has appeared in both Star Trek and Superman franchises, across all their film and television iterations, is quite challenging due to the vast number of productions and actors involved over the years. The search did not yield a direct list of actors who have been in both franchises.
I know, I’ve tried a Google search myself, which is why I’m asking ChatGPT, so that it can go through the information and process it far more quickly than I ever could!
It did say:
However, I found some actors who have been involved in Star Trek and have connections to superhero roles, which might be of interest:
- Chris Hemsworth: Known for his role as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hemsworth also appeared in the Star Trek reboot as George Kirk, Captain Kirk's father.
- Neal McDonough: He has appeared in Star Trek: First Contact as Lieutenant Hawk and has numerous roles in superhero genres, including playing Dum Dum Dugan in the MCU.
- Benedict Cumberbatch: Famous for his role as Doctor Strange in the MCU, Cumberbatch also played Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Additionally, actors like Fionnula Flanagan have appeared in Star Trek and other significant franchises like Star Wars, showcasing the crossover of talent in major sci-fi and fantasy productions.
Lovely extra info, but not what I was asking for!
So what does this exploration show?
Whilst AI is awesome, it still isn’t up to some jobs. It doesn’t really matter that it can’t find this popular culture information – but it does mean that I can’t trust it to find everything when I ask it to. After a number of prompts, and being specific, it still didn’t list everyone in one go and still missed things I knew to be true.
It also means I need to double check information as it might be missing, or wrong. For instance, I wasn’t aware that Christopher Reeve had been in Star Trek, which ChatGPT claims above. I can’t find reference to it on Wikipedia, IMDB or anywhere else. Perhaps he was uncredited somewhere, but that trust issue is front and centre.
Whilst I might need to double check some things, and try a few times to get more information, it has still saved me the job of piecing it together from various articles and blogs on the internet. So that’s super.