I got pointed out at an interesting NTY editorial of March 8, 2023, on ChatGPT written by Noam Chomsky, Ian Roberts and Jeffrey Watumull.

“we fear that the most popular and fashionable strain of A.I. — machine learning — will degrade [linguistics] and debase our ethics by incorporating into our technology a fundamentally flawed conception of language and knowledge.”

Starting with a quote of Jorge Luis Borges, most appropriately for the dystopian prospects brought by the new chatbots. And seeing the arrival of these machines as something trivial that operates in contrast with the human mind by making use of terabytesque amounts of data and (cleverly) extrapolating to suit the question. Which is to state that they are merely (?) much better interfaces at reproducing patterns found in their data bases. This remains a technical feat but given the lack of reliability of their output (cf my exam answers) and the correlated lack of uncertainty in their assessment, they are very much useless at explanations. (But sometimes usefull as typewriting monkeys for recommendation letters.)

“The crux of machine learning is description and prediction; it does not posit any causal mechanisms or physical laws.”

The second part of the tribune points out the amorality of such platforms, unable to reach a moral position. This is illustrated by Q&As about the morality of terraforming an other planet (which I cannot connect with morality if there is no sentient life on that planet). While I see the point as a fundamental distinction between humans and AIs, I would feel uncomfortable with the latter producing moral judgements as this would imply a choice of moral rules in their training, as there is no universal moral ground beyond the “obvious”… (Actually, by presenting arguments in an authoritative manner, rarely with provisions for being wrong or incomplete, ChatGPT is agreeing on lying by omission!)

“Given the amorality, faux science and linguistic incompetence of these systems, we can only laugh or cry at their popularity.”

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