Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: July 17, 2021, 6:36 a.m. Humanist 35.146 - informed sci-fi on AI & a philosophical art

				                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 146.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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    [1]    From: Jez Cope 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.136: informed sci-fi on AI? (54)

    [2]    From: Bill Benzon 
           Subject: NEW SAVANNA: Let’s think of GPT-3’s prose output as a form of bullshit, where “bullshit” is a term of philosophical art. (13)


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-07-16 16:13:20+00:00
        From: Jez Cope 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.136: informed sci-fi on AI?

The thing that immediately occurred to me in response to your question was Isaac
Asimov's Foundation series, which follows the fall of an interstellar empire as
predicted by the science of "psychohistory", which effectively uses the vast
analytical power of AI to "solve" social science on a galactic scale. The story
revolves around the attempts by the eponymous Foundation to minimise the harm
and suffering caused by the empire's collapse, also aided by the predictions of
psychohistory.

Since this is Asimov, it also ties in several other of his common themes, such
as the Three Laws of Robotics (and the Zeroth law for large AIs, which "...may
not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.") which
presages the ethical questions around AI that we grapple with today.

All the best,
Jez, long-time listener; first-time caller etc. etc. ;)

--
Jez Cope | he/him | j.cope@erambler.co.uk
erambler.co.uk | gh | tw | ma

The most dangerous phrase in the language is, "We've always done it this way" —
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (att.)

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

On Tuesday, July 13th, 2021 at 8:20 AM, Humanist 
wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 136.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                               Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                        www.dhhumanist.org
>                 Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
>
>
> Date: 2021-07-13 06:59:22+00:00
>
> From: Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@mccarty.org.uk
> Subject: a particular kind of science fiction
>
> I'm looking for a few examples of a particular kind of science fiction
> or imaginative speculation that contributes substantially, in an
> informed way, to our thinking on an artificial intelligence of value to
> research in the human sciences. I'd be very grateful for any suggestions.
>
> Yours,
>
> WM
> -----
>
> Willard McCarty,
> Professor emeritus, King's College London;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews; Humanist
> www.mccarty.org.uk

--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-07-16 10:56:13+00:00
        From: Bill Benzon 
        Subject: NEW SAVANNA: Let’s think of GPT-3’s prose output as a form of bullshit, where “bullshit” is a term of philosophical art.

Here’a a post I wrote a week ago that, I think, clarifies what engines like
GPT-3 are able to do. Note that I do not mean “bullshit” as a term of
opprobrium. I mean it as a term of philosophical art, where, in terms advanced
by Harry G. Frankfurt in a well-known essay from 2009 (which I’ve never read),
it designates a kind of language concocted without regard to truth. Bullshit
must be coherent, and sound plausible, but its truth is irrelevant to the
speaker’s purpose.

https://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2021/07/lets-think-of-gpt-3s-prose-output-
as.html

Bill Benzon
wlbenzon@gmail.com


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