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Artificial Intelligence is Dumb

We can only see ourselves in mirrors, literal or metaphorical.

Literally, we have eyes that point outward in order to take in the world around us and the people in it.

Metaphorically, we look outside ourselves to find ourselves, which we do in the way people respond to us and in artifacts we produce, like sentences, gardens, crafts, and works of art.

That is why we make things.

When we make an object we express ourselves. Having expressed ourselves, we can look at the expression, and learn about ourselves.

This is every bit as true of making tools, like hammers and ChatGPT, as it is of making work of art, like a poem or a symphony.

Both are artifacts, instruments, means of expression.

Sometimes we try to manipulate the world around us, so that it aligns with our wishes – to the extent that we can make it do so.

Other times, we manipulate objects in the world around us so that we can shape them into a desired image and explore the idea that we input into them: i.e., the idea we embody.

In both cases, we are holding a mirror up to human nature, enabling us to look at ourselves.

What we make reflects on us

That is why what we make influences the way we see ourselves. After we have done or made something, there is a little voice inside us that says, “I did that.” Sometimes that voice grows large and loud.

If we are impressed or scared by what we have done or made, that voice might even say, “I am capable of doing that!”

There is another voice, usually very quiet, never quite wrong, but also tempting. It whispers, “I am like that.”

If it means, in some ways I am like that, it is correct and useful. If it means, on the other hand, “that is what I am like,” it is not correct and is rather lazy.

For example, the mind is like a computer – in some ways. But to believe that the way the mind works is even remotely accurately described by the computer is folly. And lazy. And harmful. And just a little dumb – in the sense of being inexcusably inaccurate.

Similarly, some people think we are like steam engines, needing to blow off steam at certain points. They aren’t entirely wrong, but they are a long way from being right.

What did people do to blow off steam before the invention of the steam engine? Or at least the tea pot? How would they have known how to do it?

Naming affects the reflection

Add to that the fact that we name things, and we have a double influence on how we see ourselves.

For example, giving the name “artificial intelligence” to a tool that we humans make, compels us to think incorrectly about intelligence and thus all the things that depend on it. It also misrepresents making, art, and the relationships among these things.

We should never name anything technological with the words “artificial intelligence”. They do not name something that exists and they badly misrepresent things that do.

It holds a warped mirror up to our nature and warps our vision of ourselves, disabling our ability to judge and refine what we see.

What we make and how we name the things we make affects what and how we think of ourselves.

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