What’s of interest? Now the Humanities Can Disrupt “AI” - Public Books
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Ahuman toddler usually requires just a few examples to recognize that a kangaroo is not an elephant, and that both real-world animals are different than, say, pictures of animals on a sippy cup. And yet, the powerful statistical models now driving “artificial intelligence” (AI)—such as the much-discussed large language model ChatGPT—have no such ability.
The human brain evolved over 500 million years to help people make sense of a world of multifarious objects, within the lived contexts that embed their learning in social relations and affective experiences. Deprived of any such biological or social affordances, today’s machine learning models require arsenals of computer power and thousands of examples of each and every object (pictured from many angles against myriad backgrounds) to achieve even modest capabilities to navigate the visual world. “No silly! The cup is the thing that I drink from. It doesn’t matter that there’s a kangaroo on it–that’s not an animal, it’s a cup!,” said no statistical model ever. But then no toddler will ever “train on” and effectively memorize—or monetize—the entirety of the scrapable internet.
The key takeaway? Today’s machine “intelligence” bears little resemblance to the human thought processes to which it is incessantly compared, both by those who gush over “AI,” and by those who fear it. The distinction between machine calculation and human reasoning has a substantial history.1 But the profound anthropomorphisms that characterize today’s “AI” discourse—conflating predictive analytics with “intelligence” and massive datasets with “knowledge” and “experience”—are primarily the result of marketing hype, technological obscurantism, and public ignorance.
The point is not for educators to kill ChatGPT on the mistaken assumption that it obviates the need for humanistic labor, knowledge, and experience. Rather, precisely because it does no such thing, the time has come to cut through the hype, and claim a seat at the table where tech entrepreneurs are already making their pitch for the future.
Where is it?: Now the Humanities Can Disrupt "AI" - Public Books
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