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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
January 2, 2023

An AI that can "write" is feeding delusions about how smart artificial intelligence really is

An AI that can "write" is feeding delusions about how smart artificial intelligence really is
GPT-3, which can converse and write compelling text, is more like a pseudo-intelligence than a real AI


(Salon) The internet revolution has made many people rich, and the lure of outrageous fortune has tempted many to exaggerate what computers can do. During the dot-com bubble, many companies discovered they could double the price of their stock simply by adding .com, .net, or internet to their names. Now, we face an comparable AI bubble — in which many companies woo customers and investors by claiming to have a business model based on artificial intelligence.

If computers can defeat the most talented human players of chess, Go, and Jeopardy, they surely can outperform humans in any task — or so the thinking goes. That brings us to the recent hullabaloo about an AI program that can pen such compelling writing that it seems to be naturally intelligent. It's called OpenAI's GPT-3 large language model (LLM), and though the name is obscure to a layperson — GPT-3 is short for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3, which doesn't explain much more — what it does is relatively simple: GPT-3 can engage in remarkably articulate conversations and write compelling essays, stories, and even research papers. Many people—even some computer scientists—are convinced that GPT-3 demonstrates that computers now are (or soon will be) smarter than humans. As a finance professor and statistician who has written several books on AI and data science, I find this belief fanciful.

Alas, it is an illusion—a powerful illusion, but still an illusion reminiscent of the Eliza computer program that Joseph Weizenbaum created in the 1960s. Eliza was programmed to behave like a caricature of a psychiatrist. When a "patient" entered an input, Eliza would repeat the words and/or ask a followup question ("You were unhappy as a child? Tell me more about that.&quot .

Even though users knew they were interacting with a computer program, many were convinced that the program had human-like intelligence and emotions and were happy to share their deepest feelings and most closely held secrets. Scientists now call this the Eliza effect. We are vulnerable to this illusion because of our inclination to anthropomorphize—to attribute human-like qualities to non-human, even inanimate objects like computers.


Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT-3 do not use calculators, attempt any kind of logical reasoning, or try to distinguish between fact and falsehood. They are trained to identify likely sequences of words—nothing more. It is mind-boggling that statistical text prediction models can generate coherent and convincing text. However, not knowing what words mean, LLMs have no way of assessing whether its utterances are true or false. GPT-3 asserts its BS so confidently that its behavior is not described as lying but rather hallucinating (yet another example of anthropomorphizing). ...................(more)


January 1, 2023

Gov. Whitmer sworn in for second term following Democrats' historic victory

photostory from the Detroit Metro Times:


Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II took the oath of office for their second terms on Sunday. It’s the first time Democrats have held a trifecta of power in Michigan in nearly 40 years, given its wins in the state House and Senate. “For the next four years, our task is clear: focus on the fundamentals, work together, and get things done,” Whitmer said.

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