2023 or the entry into the new era that of

2023 or the entry into the new era: that of artificial intelligence

There was the invention of the computer and the introduction of the internet. With the recent implementation of algorithms like Midjourney and ChatGPT, we have entered what historians will call the era of artificial intelligence.

A misconception that still lingers is that new technologies will disrupt low-skilled jobs first. With this in mind, it was believed that the first to be replaced by machines would be warehouse workers and factory workers. Today we have good reason to believe that it is the professions that require high caliber academic training that will be turned upside down and changed forever.

Anyone who has grappled with these new AIs that have become the talk of the town has understood that we are dealing with a revolution whose most imaginative minds have not yet grasped all areas where the wave of convulsion is reigning. We are dealing with beings of a different kind because they do what we believed until yesterday for humans.

We are dealing with beings who become creators who evaluate, judge, and synthesize information, who can master natural language to the point of suggesting understanding, who can interact, reason intelligently, and be teachers. Consequently, it is professions such as engineers, lawyers, artists, writers, and teachers who are now in the hot seat when confronted with entities that produce and perform acts that might compete with them.

It’s been a while since computing power didn’t impress anyone. Beating the best chess player in the world had been the microprocessor feat of the previous century. However, inventing, creating, understanding and expressing oneself as a human were abilities reserved for beings from works of science fiction. They are now the product of beings that we can contact daily with the arrival of the new year.

As philosophers debate whether or not these new beings are sentient, whether they are conscious, or whether they truly have the ability to think, these artificial intelligences will irrevocably insert themselves into a range of activities that shape people’s daily lives, as Assistants in the performance of all kinds of tasks, interact with them and invest more and more human spheres.

On the backs of these AIs we ride a fiery beast that gallops on a thin line that separates dystopia and utopia on either side.

What is after death?

My 9 year old son recently asked ChatGPT what comes after death. The AI ​​replied that there are different beliefs on the subject, that some believe in the existence of a soul that survives after death, while others, on the contrary, believe that there is nothing. It is a response that has the merit of countering the authoritarian dogmatism of theocratic regimes. It is the answer of a philosopher who hypothesizes without taking a definitive position. This is the answer of an educator worthy of the name. Mankind may have just acquired a personal educator that everyone will carry in their pocket at all times, an assistant who will help sharpen critical thinking and cultivate hypothetical-deductive thinking.

Let’s take a look at the possibilities of worrying drifts. We all know the extraordinary impact that screens are having on the lives of our fellow citizens today. In particular, the arrival of social networks has disembodied our relationships and virtualized our relationships. What about the AI ​​generation, who may very well abandon the virtual relationships of social networks in favor of artificial intelligence “relationships”? In a few years, some may be nostalgic for the days when we still interacted with virtual creatures.

As with the proliferation of other technologies that have had the greatest impact on human development, it is disturbing to note that no ethics committee was engaged before these artificial intelligences became operational. We have taken this path, which seems to correspond to progress. Ethical questions, however, crop up from all sides and have what makes one dizzy with their diversity and depth.

For better or for worse, humans must learn to live with these new entities. Determining when it is desirable to outsource your creativity, understanding, and judgment to artificial intelligence is no easy task. However, it is one that will mark the coming year and all the years that follow.

Jean Sebastien Belanger
philosophy teacher
Cegep by Sorel-Tracy