Tuesday, 17 January 2023 05:59

Sympathy for the algorithm - Barry Eichengreen

Rate this item
(0 votes)

With hindsight, 2022 will be seen as the year when artificial intelligence gained street credibility. The release of ChatGPT by the San Francisco-based research laboratory OpenAI garnered great attention and raised even greater questions.

In just its first week, ChatGPT attracted more than a million users and was used to write computer programs, compose music, play games, and take the bar exam. Students discovered that it could write serviceable essays worthy of a B grade – as did teachers, albeit more slowly and to their considerable dismay.

ChatGPT is far from perfect, much as B-quality student essays are far from perfect. The information it provides is only as reliable as the information available to it, which comes from the internet. How it uses that information depends on its training, which involves supervised learning, or, put another way, questions asked and answered by humans.

The weights that ChatGPT attaches to its possible answers are derived from reinforcement learning, where humans rate the response. ChatGPT’s millions of users are asked to upvote or downvote the bot’s responses each time they ask a question. In the same way useful feedback from an instructor can sometimes teach a B-quality student to write an A-quality essay, it’s not impossible that ChatGPT will eventually get better grades.

This rudimentary artificial intelligence forces us to rethink what tasks can be carried out with minimal human intervention. If an AI is capable of passing the bar exam, is there any reason it can’t write a legal brief or give sound legal advice? If an AI can pass my wife’s medical-licensing exam, is there any reason it can’t provide a diagnosis or offer sound medical advice?

An obvious implication is more rapid displacement from jobs, compared to past waves of automation, and more rapid restructuring of surviving jobs. And the jobs that will be automated out of existence will not be limited to the low-skilled and low-paid.

Less obvious is who is safe from technological unemployment. What human traits, if any, will an AI be unable to simulate? Are those traits innate, or can they be taught?

The safest jobs will be those requiring empathy and originality. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and emotions of others. It creates the interpersonal compassion and understanding that are fundamental to social interactions and emotional well-being. It is especially valuable in circumstances and periods of difficulty. That’s why empathy is valued in religious leaders, caregivers, and grief counselors.

It is possible to imagine that, with the help of facial-recognition software, an AI can learn to recognize the feelings of its interlocutors (that it can learn what is known as “cognitive empathy”). But it can’t obviously share their feelings (it can’t learn “affective empathy”) in the same way that my wife, in her empathic moments, shares my feelings. Add that to the list of reasons why an AI can’t replace my wife, my doctor, or my rabbi.

There is no consensus about whether affective empathy can be cultivated and taught. Some argue that affective empathy is triggered by mirror neurons in the brain that can’t be artificially stimulated or controlled. Empathy is just something we experience, not something we can learn. It follows that some of us are better wired than others to be caregivers and grief counselors.

Other researchers suggest that this emotional response can indeed be taught. There is even a training company for medical clinicians called Empathetics, Inc. If true, it may be possible that more people can be prepared for automation-safe jobs where affective empathy is required.

But if humans can learn affective empathy, then why can’t algorithms? The idea that jobs requiring affective empathy will remain safe from automation assumes that people can distinguish true empathy from the simulation.

Originality means doing something that hasn’t been done previously, for example, creating a painting, composition, or newspaper commentary wholly unlike what has come before. Originality is distinct from creativity, which involves combining pre-existing elements in novel ways.

Another OpenAI product, DALL•E, is able to generate sophisticated images from text descriptions (“a painting of an apple” or “the ‘Mona Lisa’ with a mustache”). This has created some consternation among artists. But are its responses, derived using a large dataset of text-and-image pairs, original artwork?

It is questionable whether they are original in the sense of portraying an aesthetically pleasing image unlike any seen before, as opposed to combining existing visual elements associated with existing text. Artists who trade on originality may have nothing to fear, assuming of course that viewers can distinguish original artwork from the rest.

Again, there is no consensus on whether originality is inborn or can be taught. The answer, most likely, is: a bit of both.

How worried should we be? Type “Write an 800-word commentary on AI for Project Syndicate” into ChatGPT and judge for yourself.

 

Project Syndicate

March 05, 2024

Want to hire good employees? Look for 4 positive work traits

Hiring the wrong person is costly on every front: money, time, energy, and the well-being…
February 26, 2024

Afenifere opposes curtailing Yorubas’ right to protest against Tinubu's harsh economic policies

PRESS RELEASE Afenifere has distanced itself from the call by some renegade Afenifere members for…
March 02, 2024

I’ll tell you the secret of cancer - Caitlin Flanagan

It’s been almost 20 years since my diagnosis, and I’ve learned quite a bit. Are…
March 02, 2024

Man tries to hide stolen horse in his third-floor apartment

A 19-year-old man faces three months to five years in prison for stealing a horse…
March 05, 2024

Banks enable 70 percent of financial crimes in Nigeria - EFCC

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Monday, indicted banks as being linked to about 70…
March 05, 2024

Here’s the latest as Israel-Hamas war enters Day 151

UN envoy says 'reasonable grounds' to believe Hamas committed sexual violence on Oct. 7 The…
March 03, 2024

Scientists may have finally solved the mystery of consciousness. Their discoveries are troubling

Throughout history, attempts by mere mortals to plumb the inner recesses of the soul have…
March 02, 2024

Super Eagles coach Peseiro leaves at end of contract

Nigeria's Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro said on Friday he had left the job only weeks…

NEWSSCROLL TEAM: 'Sina Kawonise: Publisher/Editor-in-Chief; Prof Wale Are Olaitan: Editorial Consultant; Femi Kawonise: Head, Production & Administration; Afolabi Ajibola: IT Manager;
Contact Us: [email protected] Tel/WhatsApp: +234 811 395 4049

Copyright © 2015 - 2024 NewsScroll. All rights reserved.