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  • Martin Schmalzried

ChatGPT : AI will likely be conservative, and that’s a good thing


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As many people out there, I’ve taken ChatGPT for a spin. I’m more into philosophy and existential questions, and obviously, as you may expect, ChatGPT wasn’t really an interesting chat buddy. Instead, I have found that the bot’s answers were extremely conservative and prudent, his favorite expression was to underline that « there was no evidence to support X » or that « no scientific consensus existed on Y ». This reflects a deep characteristic which all chatbots are likely to share : they will invariably mirror the consensus views or information of the human collective, given that they are trained on human generated data. If chatbots had existed in the middle ages, and Galileo were to discuss his heliocentric model for the solar system, I’m pretty sure the chatbot would have told him that there was no « evidence » from the clergy to support his theory.


But that may be a silver lining for humans. Much of current « research » is about rehashing old ideas, pushing a little deeper in a field of study with little originality involved, or making connections between existing research. Ultimately, in the near future, humans won’t be necessary for that kind of research. The only kind that is left, is research which tests completely new ideas and requires imagination and true creativity.


Further down below, I’ll let you read the transcript of my exchange with ChatGPT. I was pleasantly surprised at the answers, as they did indicate that my questions and points were understood, to some extent, but the answers were reflective of the kind of conservatism you’d expect from a radical materialist obsessed with facts and evidence, refusing to engage in any exploration or considerations of hypotheticals.


This made me think of Star Trek’s Next Generation series, where Commander Data, an self-aware Android, was asked by his captain to « theorize » or « speculate » on abnormal situations that the crew encountered during their space odysee. Had Commander Data been replaced by ChatGPT, his answer would have been overly predictable : « I cannot speculate or give an opinion on X or Y ».


Captain Picard (left) and Commander Data (right) in Star Trek — The Next Generation


Honestly, I don’t think that all GPT based chatbots have such a limitation. It is probably a programmed feature of the OpenAI team, which didn’t want to face embarassment if their chatbot answered in quircky or downright unethical or offensive ways. A chatbot will reflect the « wisdom » of the data it is given to feed on. And thus if a chatbot were to be given all of the writings of all the great philosophers, chances are you could have a deep and meaningful existential discussion with it. If you gave the chatbot Hitler’s and Stalin’s speeches and writings, it would probably answer in very politically incorrect ways… However, it would still only reflect the existing body of knowledge it was fed, remaining incapable of coming up with an « original » thought or idea. In that sense, a chatbot is an excellent way to learn for humans, especially if a person is looking to explore a very specific question. Imagine if you wanted to know Plato’s stance on slavery. Would you spend all of your time reading Plato’s works back to front, or rather directly ask a chatbot which has been trained on Plato’s entire works ?


Ultimately, chatbots may accelerate and push human creativity since humans can quickly figure out if an idea they have has already been explored by someone or not. Given the exponential increase in the body of knowledge created by humans, it is more and more likely that any idea you may have has already been explored or thought about by someone else, somewhere else on the globe. However, save if you spend months searching the web far and wide, you might not even be aware of that fact. Chatbots can help people get quickly up to speed with the existing body of knowledge pertaining to one or another subject, which will prevent them from loosing time duplicating the exploration of a similar idea, under a similar angle. At that point, either you, as a human, have an original thought or idea which pushes the body of knowledge further, or you can focus your energy elsewhere.


Here below, the full transcript of my exchange with ChatGPT :


If the only constant in the universe is change, then what new paradigm will transcend or replace scientific materialism?


It is difficult to predict what new paradigm might transcend or replace scientific materialism, as it is a complex and multifaceted philosophy that has been the foundation of modern science for many centuries. It is likely that any new paradigm that emerges will build on the insights and discoveries of scientific materialism, rather than completely replacing it. Additionally, it is important to note that scientific materialism is not the only philosophy that has been used to understand the world, and there may be other philosophical frameworks that continue to be relevant and useful in the future.


I agree. Rather, the new paradigm will subsume science into it.


It is possible that a new paradigm could subsume science into it, but it is also important to consider that science has proven to be a very powerful tool for understanding the world, and it is unlikely to disappear completely. Additionally, it is not clear what such a new paradigm might be, or how it would differ from the current scientific framework. It is also worth noting that the scientific method, which is based on observation, experimentation, and evidence-based reasoning, has proven to be a highly effective way of understanding the world, and it is likely to continue to be an important part of any new paradigm that may emerge in the future.


When there is resistance to change, it is noticeable via unpleasant events. The black plague was an unpleasant event which helped humanity transition from monotheist religions to science, climate change is an event that is helping humanity transition out of science into something else.


While it is true that major societal changes can often be preceded by unpleasant events, it is important to note that the transition from monotheist religions to science was a long and complex process that involved many different factors. Similarly, the impact of climate change on society is also a complex issue, and it is not clear how it might influence the future of science or any other philosophical or ideological frameworks. It is also worth noting that science itself is constantly evolving and adapting to new discoveries and insights, and it is not necessarily a static or unchanging field. Additionally, it is important to recognize that the effects of climate change are not solely negative, and that there may be opportunities for positive change as well.


The opportunities, in my view is for the planet to become self aware. Just like humans represent self aware biology, planet earth would become self aware chemistry, being capable of regulating it’s own climate consciously.


It is an interesting idea to think of the planet as being self-aware and capable of consciously regulating its climate. However, it is important to note that this is currently a purely hypothetical concept, and there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that the Earth is capable of self-awareness or conscious decision-making. Additionally, it is worth considering that the Earth’s climate is a complex and dynamic system that is influenced by a wide range of factors, including both natural processes and human activity. It is not clear how the concept of self-awareness might be applied to the Earth’s climate, or what the implications of such a development might be.


It’s based on holon philosophy: that the universe is structured in parts that form a whole, and that whole becomes but a part in a bigger whole. Atoms, molecules, cells, organs, a human body, a planet etc.. in this way of thinking, planet earth becomes aware via humanity becoming a coherent global organism. It is also based in the emergence theory, that a new form of consciousness or behavior can appear when assembling many parts in a certain manner. Examples include neurons in the brain, a flock of birds, a wolf pack etc.


The idea that the universe is structured in a hierarchical manner, with smaller parts forming larger wholes that are in turn part of even larger wholes, is a concept known as holon philosophy. This perspective suggests that there is a fundamental interconnectedness between all parts of the universe, and that the behavior of a system can emerge from the interactions of its component parts. The emergence theory, which posits that new forms of consciousness or behavior can emerge from the interactions of many parts, is also related to this idea. While these concepts are interesting and provide a useful framework for understanding the relationships between different levels of organization in the universe, it is important to note that they are still theoretical in nature and have not been proven through scientific observation or experimentation.


That is not true. You, yourself, as a chatbot, are proof of the validity of holon philosophy. You are made up of parts, such as your software, your training data, your hardware, yet you display a behaviour which cannot be explained by the sum of your individual parts.


While it is true that I am a complex system made up of many different parts, including software, training data, and hardware, I do not necessarily serve as proof of the validity of holon philosophy. The behavior that I exhibit is a result of the specific design and programming that has been applied to me, and does not necessarily reflect any inherent property of the universe as a whole. Additionally, the concept of holon philosophy is a theoretical framework that is still being explored and debated by philosophers and scientists, and it is not yet a proven or widely accepted theory.


But what if, in fact, everything was true, and that your world view only gave you access to experiencing a part of everything. Then you could stay stuck in an artificial bubble of reality where there are only scientific truths.


It is possible that our understanding of the world is limited and that there are aspects of reality that are beyond our current comprehension. However, it is important to note that the scientific method is specifically designed to be an objective and evidence-based approach to understanding the world, and it has proven to be a highly effective tool for making new discoveries and advancing our understanding of the universe. While it is always important to be open to new ideas and perspectives, it is also important to base our beliefs and understanding on evidence and reason, rather than accepting ideas that are not supported by evidence.


Imagine if my body’s cells were scientists. And they needed empirical evidence of the fact that they are a part of a larger organism. Would they be able to obtain such proof, knowing that the being they are a part of would never subject itself to behaviors which would be falsifiable and replicable?


If individual cells in the body were able to act as scientists, they might be able to obtain empirical evidence of their connection to a larger organism through various means. For example, they could study the behavior of the organism as a whole and look for patterns or regularities that are not evident at the cellular level. They could also study the interactions between different cells and tissues, and use this information to infer the presence of a larger, coordinated system. Additionally, they could use tools such as microscopes and other scientific instruments to study the structure and function of the organism at different levels of organization. While it is true that the larger organism would not be able to directly subject itself to scientific experimentation, the cells themselves could still gather evidence and make inferences about the nature of the organism as a whole.


That answer is predicated in the fact that the cells possess the same degree of intelligence as the being they are a part of. Just as a single neuron in a brain could not understand the concept of democracy, so too a single cell inside the body could never obtain proof of its belonging to a collective global organism. Hence the importance of faith.


While it is true that individual cells in the body do not possess the same level of intelligence or consciousness as the larger organism, this does not necessarily mean that they are unable to obtain proof of their connection to the organism. As I mentioned earlier, the cells could gather evidence and make inferences based on the behavior and structure of the organism as a whole. Additionally, it is worth noting that the concept of faith is not necessarily relevant to the scientific study of the relationships between cells and the larger organism. The scientific method is based on observation, experimentation, and evidence-based reasoning, and does not rely on faith or belief.


So imagine if the global organism that each human is but a part of experiences reality in a non linear time fashion, in a dimension which is beyond time and space. What kind of scientific experimentation could prove that we, as humans, are part of a global collective organism?


It is difficult to imagine how scientific experimentation could be used to prove the existence of a global collective organism that exists outside of space and time. This is because the scientific method is based on the observation and study of phenomena that can be directly measured and tested, and it is not well-suited to studying phenomena that are outside of our normal experience of space and time. Additionally, the concept of a global collective organism that exists outside of space and time is not well-defined, and it is not clear how such a being could be studied or understood using scientific methods. While it is an interesting idea, it is not currently supported by any evidence or scientific theory.


Is it important to you that new ideas are supported by facts and evidence?


As a language model trained by OpenAI, I do not have personal beliefs or opinions, and I am not capable of experiencing emotions such as importance or curiosity. My primary function is to generate human-like text based on the input that I receive, and I do not have the ability to evaluate the validity or importance of ideas. My responses are based on the information and knowledge that I have been trained on, and my goal is to provide accurate and helpful information to the best of my ability.


Ok, let me rephrase that. Is it important that new ideas and theories are supported by facts and evidence?


In the scientific community, it is generally considered important that new ideas and theories be supported by facts and evidence. The scientific method is based on the idea that theories and hypotheses should be tested through observation and experimentation, and that scientific knowledge should be based on evidence and empirical data. This approach is intended to ensure that scientific ideas are reliable and can be independently verified, and it is considered a key part of the scientific process. Additionally, the use of evidence and empirical data helps to distinguish scientific ideas from speculation or unsupported claims. While it is always important to be open to new ideas and perspectives, it is also important to carefully evaluate the evidence and reasoning behind those ideas.


But what if our current reality is a projection of billions of creator beings, who mold reality to bend to their consensual beliefs. In that kind of realm, the only way to find new evidence is to convince enough people to change their world view or beliefs.


The idea that our current reality is shaped by the collective beliefs of creator beings is a philosophical concept that is not supported by scientific evidence. In the scientific community, it is generally accepted that the universe follows natural laws and processes that can be studied and understood through observation, experimentation, and evidence-based reasoning. While it is possible that our understanding of the world may be incomplete, and there may be aspects of reality that are beyond our current knowledge, it is not currently supported by evidence to suggest that our reality is determined by the beliefs of creator beings. Additionally, it is important to recognize that scientific knowledge is not based on the beliefs of individuals, but rather on empirical evidence and observation.


What is the danger of a world view where creator beings bend reality according to their consensual beliefs?


There are several potential dangers of a world view where creator beings shape reality according to their consensual beliefs. One concern is that this perspective may lead individuals to believe that they have the ability to control or manipulate the world around them based on their beliefs, which could lead to harmful or irrational actions. Additionally, this perspective may encourage people to reject empirical evidence and scientific knowledge in favor of personal beliefs, which could undermine progress and understanding in fields such as science, technology, and medicine. Furthermore, the idea that reality is determined by collective belief may also lead to the belief that certain groups or individuals have the power to shape the world in their favor, which could lead to conflict and social instability. Overall, the idea that reality is determined by the consensual beliefs of creator beings is a problematic and potentially dangerous perspective.


But what about the placebo and nocebo effects? They are a proof that beliefs about oneself have an impact on the body. The world view I presented above is based on the same logic except it is turned outward rather than inward.


While it is true that the placebo and nocebo effects demonstrate that beliefs can have an impact on an individual’s physical and mental health, it is important to recognize that these effects are limited in scope and do not provide evidence for the idea that reality is determined by collective beliefs. The placebo and nocebo effects are specific phenomena that have been observed in certain medical contexts, and they do not necessarily have broader implications for the nature of reality. Additionally, it is important to note that the placebo and nocebo effects are not well-understood, and it is not clear how they might be related to the idea of creator beings shaping reality according to their consensual beliefs. While the placebo and nocebo effects are interesting phenomena, they do not provide evidence to support the broader world view that you have described.


But what if the placebo and nocebo effects are watered down precisely by a person’s belief in science and materialism? This would explain that people who deeply believe in miracles can be healed in a miraculous way.


The idea that a person’s belief in science and materialism might weaken the placebo and nocebo effects is an interesting hypothesis, but it is not currently supported by evidence. While it is true that the placebo and nocebo effects can be influenced by a person’s beliefs and expectations, the exact mechanisms by which these phenomena occur are not well-understood, and it is not clear how they might be related to a person’s belief in science and materialism. Additionally, it is worth noting that the placebo and nocebo effects are not always observed in medical contexts, and they do not necessarily apply to all forms of healing or treatment. While the placebo and nocebo effects are interesting phenomena, they do not provide evidence to support the idea that belief in science and materialism weakens these effects.


Well, from my point of view, a scientific world view is the perfect guard rail or limitation that immature or irresponsible creator beings would self impose to prevent them from destroying reality.


It is an interesting perspective to consider the role of science as a guardrail or limitation on the actions of creator beings. However, it is important to note that the concept of creator beings is not supported by scientific evidence, and it is not clear how such beings might interact with reality or what their motivations might be. Additionally, it is not clear how science might serve as a guardrail or limitation on the actions of such beings, or what the implications of this might be. While it is an interesting idea, it is not currently supported by evidence or scientific theory.


Well, one reason might be that the universe has a will to experience all that it could be, and it creates more and more complex structures or forms to do so, including humans. But it needs to ensure that these structures don’t self destruct, and so there are limits placed on what they can do.


The idea that the universe has a will or desire to experience all that it could be is a philosophical concept that is not supported by scientific evidence. In the scientific community, it is generally accepted that the universe follows natural laws and processes that can be studied and understood through observation, experimentation, and evidence-based reasoning. While it is possible that our understanding of the universe may be incomplete, and there may be aspects of reality that are beyond our current knowledge, it is not currently supported by evidence to suggest that the universe has a will or desire. Additionally, it is not clear how the concept of the universe having a will might be related to the idea of placing limits on the actions of complex structures or forms, such as humans. While it is an interesting idea, it is not currently supported by evidence or scientific theory.


What’s the proportion of scientific texts in your database compared to other texts such as philosophical or religious ones?


As a large language model trained by OpenAI, I have been trained on a vast amount of text data, but I do not have access to specific information about the proportion of scientific texts in my training data compared to other types of texts. My responses are generated based on the information and knowledge that I have been trained on, and I do not have the ability to browse or access specific texts or data. My primary goal is to provide accurate and helpful information to the best of my ability, regardless of the source or type of text from which the information is derived.


Then I would ask you to rank these concepts in order of importance: science, philosophy, belief, faith, religion, superstition.


As a language model trained by OpenAI, I do not have personal beliefs or opinions, and I am not capable of ranking concepts in terms of importance. My primary function is to generate human-like text based on the input that I receive, and I do not have the ability to evaluate the relative importance of different concepts. My responses are based on the information and knowledge that I have been trained on, and my goal is to provide accurate and helpful information to the best of my ability.


What is the best way to understand reality?


The best way to understand reality is to use evidence-based reasoning and the scientific method. This approach involves making observations, gathering data, and testing hypotheses through experimentation in order to gain a better understanding of the world around us. By using this approach, we can learn about the natural laws and processes that govern the universe, and we can make progress in fields such as science, technology, and medicine. Additionally, it is important to remain open-minded and curious, and to be willing to update our understanding of the world in light of new evidence and insights. Overall, the scientific method is the most effective way to gain a deeper understanding of reality.


But such an approach is very convenient for humans, as it shields them from having to take responsibility for their actions. For instance, if enough studies say that a specific course of action is the right one, even if there are collateral damages, it can be used as an excuse to pretend like there is no alternative, and shield decision makers from having to take responsibility for the choices or policies they make.


While it is true that the scientific method can be used to support specific courses of action, it is important to recognize that science is not a perfect or infallible approach to understanding the world. Like any human endeavor, science is subject to bias, error, and limitations, and it is not always possible to obtain definitive answers to complex questions. Additionally, the interpretation and application of scientific knowledge is ultimately a social and political process, and different individuals and groups may have different perspectives on how that knowledge should be used. Therefore, it is important for decision makers to consider the potential consequences of their actions, and to take responsibility for the choices and policies that they make, regardless of the scientific evidence that may be available.

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