Article by Vicente I, Year 11, Caxton Times journalist
Chat GPT is a chatbot launched by Open AI circa November 2022. Despite its new entrance in the Internet, it has become extremely popular due to its potential in skill. Chat GPT is probably one of the most revolutionary steps in artificial intelligence, especially from a philosophical standpoint. This is due to one of the programme’s most majestic features, the ability to write long cohesive forms of information and learn to improve these texts.
Chat GPT is able to write essays, write narrative stories and so many more things that their predecessor chatbots were simply limited in potential to execute and this fact has, although perhaps not on the surface, revolutionised the idea of AI in intellectual circles. A computer can now debate with somebody fluently, giving arguments and facilitating a massive amount of people to, with the typing of a single command, come up with near professional counter arguments towards experts in fields who have studied their specification for years or even decades.
It raises the question, how much power are we giving machines to challenge the people who control the knowledge transported in our society? What if machines, at some point, reach the level of replacing wise figures and controlling the wisdom spread around humanity? What will journalists, debaters, philosophers, writers, historians… etc do with this new technology?
In 1997, the AI programme Deep Blue defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov 4 times and drew with him once. Granted the AI did lose two times to him as it was a six-game rematch, but the fact that an AI developed in the 90s was already able to defeat one of the greatest human experts in chess, is in my opinion humorous, and quite concerning too. AI, such as Deep Blue and Chat GPT have proven to have the potential to challenge and defeat the highest minds of humanity in their respective field. Considering how new this technology is, I’d argue it’s very peculiar how fast its potential to surpass humanity has proven to be, and worth raising questions about.
Nevertheless, AI does not stop at chess and essay writing. Art has also been affected by the use of computers to generate pieces of art that are composed in a professional manner. Many argue that these programmes are a threat to the artist guild as a whole as their jobs will gradually become more and more obsolete as cheap, easily generatable art takes the scene. It’s also very important to point out that art, at least in its original form, is a human form of escapism and creation of beauty. Like Nietzsche called it, “We have art in order not to die of the truth.” The fact that art is now being taken over the field by non-human specimens adds more to the growth of AI and increases the fact that it should be something people should point out and evaluate. Where do we want AIs working in? Should AIs start taking over some of the most ‘human’ specifications in life?
What about them being modelled after humans?
Neural Networking is a form of programming that models the human brain by having programmes learn through trial and error to complete tasks, a form of teaching an AI to develop through exposure. Certain AIs who are less efficient at the tasks given to them are scrapped and AIs that are the most efficient ‘survive’, if an AI even can be said to ‘survive’. This peculiar parody of natural selection might raise some thoughts on how much we are modelling our artificial intelligences to ourselves, sort of like the God creating Adam narrative. It certainly blurs the line between human and machine, doesn’t it? I’ll return to this point later, but before that I wanted to stress a very influential argument in this concept of the growth of AI.
Banks, airplane networks, modern communication, war drones, nuclear power plants and nuclear missile launch systems, social media, our recommendation feeds, self-driving cars, search engines… etc. What do they have in common? They are greatly influenced by AI. Believe it or not, artificial intelligence plays a significant role in all essential fields of the world, from who gets to influence you on social media, to the very money in your bank account. AI has automated many intelligence based fields like the machines in a factory have decreased the need for manual labour. Which means that now more than ever we have to watch out for the potential that we grant these intelligences.
Some theorists have come up with systems to ensure that AI does not end up causing the destruction of humanity. One of them being esteemed science-fiction author, and PhD in Chemistry, Isaac Asimov. Asimov came up with the Three Laws of Robotics, which consisted of:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
However, this system may not be as possible to enforce considering the amount of participation AI has in the military department. It would require a massive de escalation of military AI to actually respect the First Law of Robotics for example.
Asimov in one of his novels also gave a very interesting thought experiment about AI, or robots like he called them at the time, and, in summary, for I do not wish to spoil the story, it involved a robot, who in order to pretend to not be a machine, they learnt how to laugh and then, in one of their speeches, managed to laugh so genuinely that humans could not distinguish him as a robot. At the time, it was a very wacky and humourous tale, but it also brings me back to the point of where humanity ends and artificial intelligence starts.
Perhaps if we keep developing these intelligences like we are now, I might end up creating something so close to a human being that it might end up being seen as one. How do we know that we aren’t able to create consciousness? Especially if we’re modelling them after our own behaviour and furthermore enabling them to deepen on subjects that are supposed to be “human” in nature, like art or writing?
In the end, this might end up being a way of teaching us where humanity lies. What is being a human being from a machine that may not only be able to emulate us, but defeat us in our own games and constructions? Will this stepping stone in human invention be the end of the terminology of ‘human’, will it be the start of a new definition or perhaps the beginning of the end of human participation in the cosmos? If machines begin doing all a person can, ten times better than what a person could do, why should we stay in the equation in the first place?
Are we playing with fire, are we playing God, or are we doing both at the same time? One cannot know, because one thing’s for sure, we’re definitely blindfolded in one way or another.
Or maybe they’ll just end up being what they’re now, machines that are clunky and make software engineers cry after missing out on two punctuation marks at the end of their shift. Who knows. Nevertheless, let’s try and do what separates us from other creatures in the world for now and think. Think about what this might mean not only for us right now, but for the future of humankind.
Think about it, and until we meet again.