Noam Chomsky: The False Promise of ChatGPT




  • we know from the science of linguistics and the philosophy of knowledge that they differ profoundly from how humans reason and use language. These differences place significant limitations on what these programs can do, encoding them with ineradicable defects (View Highlight)
  • Jorge Luis Borges once wrote that to live in a time of great peril and promise is to experience both tragedy and comedy, with “the imminence of a revelation” in understanding ourselves and the world. Today our supposedly revolutionary advancements in artificial intelligence are indeed cause for both concern and optimism. Optimism because intelligence is the means by which we solve problems. Concern because we fear that the most popular and fashionable strain of A.I. — machine learning — will degrade our science and debr our ethics by incorporating into our technology a fundamentally flawed conception of language and knowledge. (View Highlight)
    • Note: The text discusses how advances in artificial intelligence can both be a cause for concern and optimism. It suggests that the most popular form of AI, machine learning, carries with it a flawed understanding of language and knowledge which could lead to a degradation of our science and ethics. It also draws on the words of Jorge Luis Borges, who wrote that living in a time of both peril and promise is to experience both tragedy and comedy, with the potential of a revelation in understanding ourselves and the world.
  • Human-style thought is brd on possible explanations and error correction, a process that gradually limits what possibilities can be rationally considered. (View Highlight)
  • But ChatGPT and similar programs are, by design, unlimited in what they can “learn” (which is to say, memorize); they are incapable of distinguishing the possible from the impossible. (View Highlight)
  • The correct explanations of language are complicated and cannot be learned just by marinating in big data. (View Highlight)
  • “we do not seek highly probable theories but explanations; that is to say, powerful and highly improbable theories.” (View Highlight)
  • ChatGPT must be empowered to generate novel-looking output; to be acceptable to most of its users, it must steer clear of morally objectionable content. (View Highlight)
  • In the absence of a capacity to reason from moral principles, ChatGPT was crudely restricted by its programmers from contributing anything novel to controversial — that is, important — discussions. It sacrificed creativity for a kind of amorality. (View Highlight)
  • Given the amorality, faux science and linguistic incompetence of these systems, we can only laugh or cry at their popularity. (View Highlight)