Artificial Intelligence as an Aid to Thinking Otherwise — but to What End?


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Cognitive Clarification Enabled by ChatGPT in Eliciting Strategic Coherence


25 Dec 2023 – This is a continuing exploration of a previous exercise on Sustainable Development Goals through Self-reflexive Root Cause Analysis (2023). This was itself a clarification of the value of AI in the form of ChatGPT (Version 4.0), notably with respect to an earlier focus on the Potential relevance to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (2023) framed by a discussion of the Coherent Reconciliation of Eastern and Western Patterns of Logic (2023).

In addition to further exploration of strategically relevant categories as cognitive modalities, a particular concern in what follows includes reflection on the process of “exchange” with ChatGPT. From that perspective, an underlying question is the nature of “artificial intelligence” and the extent to which the intelligence of the human engaged in that exchange process is itself “artificial” to any degree, as previously discussed (How Artificial is Human Intelligence — and Humanity? 2023). This gave particular focus to consideration of “AI Safety versus Safety from Human Artifice”. It raised the possibility of a Test for “artificiality” complementary to the Turing Test for “humanity”. Irrespective of the responses from ChatGPT, to what extent do the questions themselves imply a form of artificiality? Whose intelligence is artificial, especially given the manner in which categories are presented and manipulated?

As a strange form of dialogue, long anticipated by science fiction, with what intelligence does the engagement take place? To the extent that AI is a “meaningful construct”, how is the engagement to be experienced — in contrast with other modes of dialogue (Being Spoken to Meaningfully by Constructs, 2023)? As meaningful consturcts, that question has implications for the cognitive engagement with nature and natural disasters which may call for reframing.

An especially appreciable feature of the dialogue with ChatGPT is the timely response to questions for which it may be difficult and time consuming to obtain answers otherwise. This is notably the case where the questions can be held to be abstruse and unrelated to any specific domain of expertise — questions which others may deem unworthy of a considered response. The seemingly disinterested nature of the responses merits appreciation, especially when they exhibig unexpected degrees of order and highlight unexpected insights inviting further questions. This may go far beyond the familiar experience with any search engine (although these are increasingly enhanced by AI facilities)..

For many, starved of meaningful dialogue, the facility could even be held to be “magical” — whatever illusion is cultivated by the process. This invites evaluation in the light of whatever is associated with that qualifier, appropriately or not (Magical Discourse Contrasting Human and AI Identity, 2023).

It is of course the case that the responses of ChatGPT can be readily characterized as bland, vapid, banal, and cliche-ridden. Default articulations may exhibit forms of avoidance — notably when the question calls on experience beyond the “training” received by ChatGPT. They may feature platitudes of little value. Potentially irritating — even suspect — may be the “algorithmic encouragement” typically featured in the preamble to any response, potentially appreciative of the question to an unwarranted degree. This may however also be a feature of dialogue with humans, where exhibiting interest may be appropriate and polite — and even characterized by a degree of flattery. Presumably ChatGPT could be instructed to avoid formulaic preambles.

Of particular concern is the manner in which responses may reinforce any form of confirmation bias — as with any dialogue otherwise held to be meaningful. The concern is all the greater in that ChatGPT does not challenge the question posed to any degree — in possible contrast with dialogue with a human empowered to disagree. The exchange could then be challenged as taking the form of an echo chamber in which the attitudes and concerns of the questioner are mirrored — again as in dialogue with humans.

An extensive exchange with ChatGPT, as presented below, could then be challenged as a form of indulgence (as with any dialogue) — even caricatured as “intellectual masturbation”. It is also appropriate to suspect the skillful crafting of responses as constituting a dubious form of grooming. This is however also the case in dialogue with humans with particular agendas.

In what follows a developing series of questions and responses is presented. The method of presentation could be considered unusual in that readers are free to ask the same questions of ChatGPT and to compare the responses to those given here. These might well become more complex to the extent that ChatGPT learns from the process. Ironically relevant is the manner in which asking such questions to be presented to a wider audience can be considered as virtue signalling, and therefore suspect as a means of eliciting support for confirmation bias. The exchange usefully frames the need for necessary vigilance with regard to its development and the outcome deemed valuable.

At the time of writing, many are confronted by the horrific situation in Gaza, as exemplified by the Declaration of Conscience and Concern of Global Intellectuals on Gaza Genocide (Transcend Media Service, 25 December 2023). The concern in what follows is not with the widespread focus on the cessation of hostilities — supposedly ensuring a form of “peace” — nor with the cases righteously made by either side. Any implication that the “global intellectuals” exemplify the “good” responding to “evil” is less than inadequate to a pattern of violence cultivated in the current global civilization. The situation could be better caricatured by the declaration of Pogo: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us. The “enemy” could then be understood as the cognitive modality by which others are framed — a modality which “global intellectuals” have seemingly little intention of calling into question in seeking a return to the status quo ante bellum. The horrific violence is a consequence of that failure. If we cannot understand how our way of thinking is part of the problem, we cannot understand the nature of the solution required.


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