Publish at January 24 2023 Updated January 26 2023

Chat GPT an intelligence?

Overcoming the hegemony of the mind

Sitting robot

As with every new technological advance hope and fear compete for the field of illusion and commentary. Is GPT chat an intelligence?

Redefining intelligence

The machine has long since shown its ability to win at chess. But is it intelligence? Is it something other than an ability to manage information?

The latest scientific advances in neurophysiology seem to indicate that the thinking activity of humans is not limited to their cognitive activity: we do not think only with our heads. The brain, which has always been believed to be the seat of thought, seems to be reduced instead to a function of managing and coordinating sensory information produced elsewhere in the body and in particular by the enteric brain.

Our conception of intelligence makes us privilege the management of information over the production of information. All approaches to personal or spiritual development have pointed to this deficit of awareness of the seat of information production in trying to get individuals to overcome the hegemony of the mind and a conception of intelligence as being summed up in cognitive activity.

What do we call intelligence?

In reality our conception of intelligence often boils down to the ability to develop as quickly as possible mental habits of "cognitive arc-reflexes" that allow us to respond to social stimuli. Do we not consider that a rat has shown intelligence when it has succeeded quickly in going without errors from one point to another of the maze? When in fact it is rather the whole time that it has wandered in the maze with a series of trial and error that it has shown intelligence. He has initiated actions, managed trial and error, learned from his interaction with his environment, developed strategies, memorized them.

But we conclude intelligence only when he produces the performance expected by the researcher: so it is with the child at school. He will reassure the teacher of his purpose by quickly producing the expected answer. Like the rat in the maze, it is the habits of thought that constitute the mind that is identified as intelligence. Thus we equate cognitive performance with intelligence when it is only the observable.

Or we can make another hypothesis about the function of the brain or at any rate of the higher cognitive functions or the neo cortex. It seems that its function is like the military HQ and the control tower, an instance that coordinates sensory information from elsewhere to produce meaning. Indeed as research shows (The decision - Berthoz), the meaning of our environment is a decision we make, without being aware of how we go about doing so.

And it is from these decisions of meaning that we make our decisions of action.

In a previous article I had proposed to reduce the concept of artificial intelligence to a more mundane and modest reality of Automated Information Flow Management (AIFM). (Artificial intelligence: a myth updated). But like Deep Blue in its time, Chat Gpt remains just another technological object.

Every time a new technology appears, Don Quixote resurfaces who fought against windmills, the first technological objects intended to increase productivity. The rejection that resurfaces is the same as the one that drove the weavers who "sabotaged" the weaving machines by throwing their clogs. But in order to see this new technology as a competitor for man, it would have to have the same characteristics. Man knows that he exists and is aware of it. Is the same true for our machine

Does Cat GPT exist?

I asked him the question and it seems that from his own point of view it does not exist. Our exchange:

From the point of view of its designers it seems that intelligence can exist without consciousness. This in itself is the heart of the problem we create with these machines. "Science without consciousness is but the ruin of the soul" said Rabelais.

We can discuss the abuse of language that constitutes this definition of intelligence. Jerome BRUNER in his book "Savoir dire, savoir faire" said: "the Chinese ideogram transcribing "thought" combines the features of "head" and those of "heart". What a pity that it does not also include those of "others" because it would illustrate our point wonderfully."

Intelligence is not a state but a dynamic. One is not intelligent, but one is "in intelligence with". It is a dynamic that is self-generating. A dynamic capable of being in action and not only in reaction. In the reaction as can be the machine which can only answer to a request. At no time can we imagine this machine deciding to come and solicit us on its own. Intelligence refers to the ability to initiate actions that allow us to manage relationships and to be in good intelligence with others, our environment and especially with ourselves.

The problem with this tool is not so much that it is a competitor to human intelligence. It lies essentially in the fact that its complexity makes it more difficult to perceive the biases it produces. Difficult also to have a distanced and critical look at its productions.

As every time a new technology multiplies the power of action, it forces us to more awareness, more ethics, more critical look and a longer term vision of the possible effects. This is what we have lacked in the management of fossil fuels.

It is with our passions as with water and fire: they are good servants but bad masters. Said Roger L'Estrange. Instead of being hypnotized by the magical side of this new technology it is more urgent to be consciously attentive to what we do with it.

About the weaving machine, I will recall this historical event from the 19th century of a French consul in Morocco who sold at cost price a weaving machine to a local craftsman who quickly became a powerful industrialist putting many small craftsmen out of business. Then every time the machine broke down or required outside intervention, the industrialist paid back the price he had paid to acquire the machine.

If he had been an intelligent and enlightened industrialist he could have anticipated what would happen next and known how to say no to something that might represent a risk or consider better terms. Saying no to something that can be done is what characterizes an adult: knowing how to say "no" even when it is possible. This is not the case in our societies with regard to the question of fossil energy. And saying "no" to oneself is not a capacity of machines either, it is in this sense that they will not be able to be intelligent.

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