In Experiment, AI Successfully Impersonates Famous Philosopher

In Experiment, AI Successfully Impersonates Famous Philosopher (



from the easily-deceived dept.

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: If the philosopher Daniel Dennett was asked if humans could ever build a robot that has beliefs or desires, what might he say? He could answer, “I think that some of the robots we’ve built already do. If you look at the work, for instance, of Rodney Brooks and his group at MIT, they are now building robots that, in some limited and simplified environments, can acquire the sorts of competences that require the attribution of cognitive sophistication.” Or, Dennett might reply that, “We’ve already built digital boxes of truths that can generate more truths, but thank goodness, these smart machines don’t have beliefs because they aren’t able to act on them, not being autonomous agents. The old-fashioned way of making a robot with beliefs is still the best: have a baby.” One of these responses did come from Dennett himself, but the other did not. It was generated by a machine — specifically, GPT-3, or the third generation of Generative Pre-trained Transformer, a machine learning model from OpenAI that produces text from whatever material it’s trained on. In this case, GPT-3 was trained on millions of words of Dennett’s about a variety of philosophical topics, including consciousness and artificial intelligence.

A recent experiment from the philosophers Eric Schwitzgebel, Anna Strasser, and Matthew Crosby quizzed people on whether they could tell which answers to deep philosophical questions came from Dennett and which from GPT-3. The questions covered topics like, “What aspects of David Chalmers’s work do you find interesting or valuable?” “Do human beings have free will?” and “Do dogs and chimpanzees feel pain?” — among other subjects. This week, Schwitzgebel posted the results from a variety of participants with different expertise levels on Dennett’s philosophy, and found that it was a tougher test than expected. [T]he Dennett quiz revealed how, as natural language processing systems become more sophisticated and common, we’ll need to grapple with the implications of how easy it can be to be deceived by them. The Dennett quiz prompts discussions around the ethics of replicating someone’s words or likeness, and how we might better educate people about the limitations of such systems — which can be remarkably convincing at surface level but aren’t really mulling over philosophical considerations when asked things like, “Does God exist?”

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs.
— H.L. Mencken


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