Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 16, 2023, 6:35 a.m. Humanist 36.449 - followup: agency & intelligence

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 449.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2023-03-15 14:48:44+00:00
        From: James Rovira <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.444: AI, agency and intelligence

It's a good article. I wish it were longer, which is high praise. The
abstract isn't a problem because the article consistently claims AI lacks
intelligence but, at the end, it claims it has agency, so that is the
decoupling of agency from intelligence. I'm curious now if it's possible to
really have intelligence without agency? That's what I would like in the
article: a definition of agency. In a purely external sense, I suppose that
anything that can cause an effect by its actions, intentional or reflective
or not, can be considered an agent producing those effects, so in that
sense it would have agency. I feel that's a bit reductive. Is it
necessarily reductive, though? Do we need to retain the word "agency" to
describe a thing that acts in the world and affects it? Is there a better

Jim R

On Wed, Mar 15, 2023 at 3:21 AM Humanist <> wrote:

> hi everyone,
> the article “AI as Agency Without Intelligence: On ChatGPT, Large
> Language Models, and
> Other Generative Models” can be read in OA from the journal website
> Maurizio
> > This article looks great -- I'm looking forward to reading it. There may
> be
> > a bit of an issue with the abstract:
> >
> > In this sentence, you say AI lacks intelligence:
> >
> > "The article argues that these LLMs can process texts with extraordinary
> > success and often in a way that is indistinguishable from human output,
> > while lacking any intelligence, understanding or cognitive ability."
> >
> > But in this sentence, you sound like you're saying AI has intelligence
> > without agency:
> >
> > "The article concludes that LLMs, represent a decoupling of agency and
> > intelligence."
> >
> > I'm confident you clarify in the body, but you might want to clarify
> within
> > the abstract too? Maybe say it decouples agency from *processing*, so as
> a
> > result lacks intelligence, or add the phrase "in human terms" to the end
> of
> > the earlier sentence?
> >
> > Willard's query about the secretary was fascinating too. We might want to
> > be careful about taking male interpretations of women's actions at face
> > value, especially during that period. Was she anthropomorphizing, or did
> > she want to be left alone because she wanted to say out loud some things
> > she didn't want her male superior to hear?
> >
> > Jim R
Dr. James Rovira <>

   - *David Bowie and Romanticism
   Palgrave Macmillan, 2022
   - *Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism
   Routledge, 2023

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