"Ten years ago, many were expecting self-driving cars to be the dominant mode of transport by now."

Did they though?

I'm pretty sure once we got a few years into the new millennium most people gave up on thinking about the future because it was becoming painfully obviously that nothing had really changed that much in the real world.

We're now into the 4th decade of the 90s... all our "advancements" only exist inside a glowing rectangle.

Also: AI has been a thing since the 50s. The version the public is allowed to access has likely been around for decades. I'm partially joking when I say this, but also kinda not: there's likely a good reason why when you ask ChatGPT to be "creative", it comes up with stuff that sounds like it's the 50s and 60s.

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Lovely article - I am enjoying these.

In addition to the sensation of weird, I also feel a sense of hollowness to AI generated images. The technique can be very impressive, but the expression, for me, is not. I am continually surprised by our willingness to divorce intelligence from emotion and experience. I think this is something common in programming circles, where intelligence is seen as synonymous with logic, and the measurable ways of using logic. I also think it is subtly, or perhaps not so subtly, dehumanising.

Noam Chomsky - as contrarian as ever - had quite withering words for idea that GPT is in any sense intelligent. I would be curious what you think of this. Quoted from the NYT article "The False Promise of GPT".

"Note, for all the seemingly sophisticated thought and language, the moral indifference born of unintelligence. Here, ChatGPT exhibits something like the banality of evil: plagiarism and apathy and obviation. It summarizes the standard arguments in the literature by a kind of super-autocomplete, refuses to take a stand on anything, pleads not merely ignorance but lack of intelligence and ultimately offers a “just following orders” defense, shifting responsibility to its creators.

In short, ChatGPT and its brethren are constitutionally unable to balance creativity with constraint. They either overgenerate (producing both truths and falsehoods, endorsing ethical and unethical decisions alike) or undergenerate (exhibiting noncommitment to any decisions and indifference to consequences). Given the amorality, faux science and linguistic incompetence of these systems, we can only laugh or cry at their popularity."

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Yeah well Chomsky's always gonna have it out for emergent linguistic ability, innit. ;)

Re seeing intelligence as synonymous with logic - I heard a nice summary recently (unfortunately can't locate the reference): when we were defining ourselves against animals then we see our intelligence in rationalism. Now we're defining against AI, we're returning to embodiment and other traits we share with animals.

However, I think "the moral indifference born of unintelligence" is a dangerous assumption. It seems to suggest to me that morality will just spontaneously emerge when AI gets good enough, which I don't think we can assume.

And on the last point, as I understand, ChatGPT is an interface to a text-continuation model. I heard the description of an AI pretending to be an AI assistant. I don't necessarily disagree with the sentiment it may cause. My argument is more that people are forming opinions about intelligence and the ups and downs of AI based on ChatGPT, but that is likely just a tiny window into what lies beneath.

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I don't see particular controversy in the notion that humans are more rational than other animals, and more emotionally intelligent than computers - in that computers have no emotional intelligence or experience. I think philosophers such as Plato and Descartes created a strong and persistent bias towards rationalism in western culture, but artists have remained consistent in the idea that deep emotion, spiritual experience, and inspiration are part of a valuable artistic process.

I treat Chomsky with a lot of skepticism. His comments about Corbyn over the last few days are a mirror image of Trump, and show how inaccurate he can be to preserve his rigid ideological positions. However the arguments he put forward in the essay struck me as quite compelling. LLM's brute force suggest a lack of elegance in design.

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