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Mind, science and artificial intelligence

Mind, science and artificial intelligence

The rapid development of artificial intelligence has stunned the world. Programs like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard are marvels of machine learning, capable of analyzing massive amounts of data and generating increasingly statistically accurate answers. Also, unlike previous technologies, they master countless topics in countless languages, and generate content from processing data.

However, these developments also bring complex challenges. For this reason, world leaders, in recent months, including President Joe Biden, the President of OpenAI, Sam Altman, and the European Parliament, have discussed the ethical, political and social dilemmas facing the world, due to the artificial giant steps. Intelligence. “There is concern, for example, about their invasion of privacy, given the sheer amount of information they can obtain about people, and the impact it has on the circulation of information and public conversation, given that the ability to provide false news by creating evidence will lead to an increase in – images and videos And audio recordings — created from these systems,” explain experts on the subject María Isabel Mejía of the Development Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF), and Armando Goyo, of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center.

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In the midst of musings about measures to be taken against these technologies and speculation about the approaching expected moment when they will overtake the human mind, the famous American thinker Noam Chomsky has published a column in The New York Times about why this is so. We are still far from this legendary event. His premise centers around his definition of thinking, an activity that, for him, is linked to that deep human desire to seek explanations and make sense of reality.

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People are able to describe and predict a phenomenon, but they can also explain why it happened and why it did not happen in another way. This is thinking. Quoting the famous philosopher of science Karl Popper, Chomsky points out that scientists are not looking for highly likely theories, but rather for explanations. This allowed them to develop valid hypotheses, however unlikely they may appear before verification.

Of course, mistakes were made. But these are part of what reasoning means, and according to theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, from the very development of science: “A new scientific theory never arises in a vacuum, from the pure imagination of a scientist. Rather, it is always a small modification of existing knowledge. The human brain does not create nothingness.” Take it one step at a time,” he wrote in his book The Birth of Scientific Thought.

On the other hand, programs like ChatGPT do not go beyond describing and predicting phenomena. “They only trade with probabilities that change over time. Therefore, their predictions will always be sketchy and dubious,” says Chomsky. They give rough estimates of what happened, but they don’t look for explanations or principles as they do in science. In addition, he adds, “they are unable to distinguish the possible from the impossible.” While our languages ​​have limits and rules that define how we use them and how we think, artificial intelligence has no problem learning humanly possible and impossible languages. It is not attached to rational explanations and guesses, as is our mind.

Having explained why this particular way of thinking in people has given rise to science and languages ​​with certain rules, Chomsky goes on to explain why we are also allowed to think ethically. We can constrain the creativity of our minds with a set of ethical principles that dictate what to do and what not to do.

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Instead, programs like ChatGPT are unethical. Its creators limited their ability to contribute to controversial discussions. This is why they support both moral and immoral decisions and show a lack of commitment to any decision.

The most interesting thing about the column is that, as Chomsky gives examples of what he means by thinking, the reader is reminded of why we can meet the challenges of the present and the future.

Christina Esguera

(Read all of the columns by Cristina Esguerra at EL TIEMPO, here)