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"Obsessing over whether AI can get every fact right almost willingly puts aside the question of what this thing actually is and how we ought to use it." For casual but interested and curious users like me, not a scientist or a developer/engineer, it feels important for it to get facts right because when I search the internet for an answer to a question, in the way that I'm used to, with Google etc, correct facts are what I want and what I try to drill down and get in search results.

So, to try this sophisticated new tech and have it mention, in a conversation, that the Beatles covered Mr. Tambourine Man (for example), begs the question "what is this thing for, if it's going to make up facts?" I've been watching articles such as yours for ideas on how it's supposed to be used to its best advantage. But my concern with its asserting false facts isn't obsessing nor willingly putting aside the question of how to use it. Most people who've written about it have not provided "coaching tips" on the question of how best to use it, so all I can do is try stuff.

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The chatbot code-named Sydney might be more appropriately referred to as "it" rather than as "she," IMO -- yes or no?

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Because of her code name “she” gets used. I see your point though. And it makes sense to anthropomorphise it a bit.

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Feb 18, 2023Liked by Henry Oliver

What a fine reflection and analysis, Henry. You really put things in a vital perspective.

I would love to hear you comment more on this evocative observation: "We are starting on a new age, I predict, of the Renaissance Man. From the two cultures, great opportunities for breadth are emerging."

Thanks much, as always, for your keen insights and observations!

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It’s become increasingly difficult to be proficient across multiple domains or to be an accomplished generalist as existing knowledge has multiplied and become complex. The ability of AI to help those people be productive and find links might reduce those barriers.

Thanks Daniel

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Great description of our moment. I remember reading that Socrates daemon would only speak up when he was wrong. Maybe that’s how these AI will be used “in the background” in the future -- and maybe creative people will only be interested in “going wrong.” The whole of 20th Century art was an attempt to find the boundaries of art and cross them. Maybe something similar will happen in this century.

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I hope so!

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Spot on analysis. Thank you for this. I really like the framing of the issue as one of magical thinking. Such thinking had always been with us - witness all the people you know being mad at the malfunctioning tool (computer, car, hammer) rather than the manufacturer, designer, or themselves for not maintaining their possession. It just has a new outlet now, one that explore our pareidolia.

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That’s a fun word. I can’t find it in Johnson.

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Feb 18, 2023·edited Feb 18, 2023

I'm all for the messiness of exploration across domains. But I'm highly skeptical that the rise of AI for everyone will mean "You no longer need other people or institutions as much as you did." Like Fran mentioned, AI gets stuff wrong all the time. The benefit of cross discipline collaboration within an institution or with domain experts is that they know the field. Although they're by no means infallible, they can provide reasonably accurate information, and more importantly, tell you where it came from and why they believe it's accurate. And if you propose an idea that flys in the face of a field, they can give you an informed answer on why you might be wrong. You can use that info to argue against their reasoning, go back to the drawing board, or drop it all together. When it comes to creative endeavors, AI might be able to assist with content that is solely artistic or expressive, where you really don't need a domain expert to experiment. But that's not going to bring about a second coming of Renee Descartes.

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Did you use Sydney?

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Not yet! I've just read transcripts and articles.

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That makes good sense--about the augmentation of AI to supplement what we cannot possibly gather and glean otherwise. A Renaissance era!

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deletedFeb 18, 2023Liked by Henry Oliver
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Haven’t seen it...

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Oh dear. Sorry. So I’ve deleted my spoiler of the ending of the movie ‘Her’. Actually, the ending is ambiguous, if that helps.

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Feb 18, 2023Liked by Henry Oliver

I think I remember you don’t read speculative sci-fi? But this film is clever and funny, romantic comedy, won awards for writing and not even speculative anymore. Not after this past week, anyway.

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I’m open to it just haven’t got into it before

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