Ross Douthat on ChatGPT
Interesting throughout, here is one part:
Seeing it doesn’t make me think that the engineer was right, but it does draw me closer to Cowen’s reading of things, especially when he called Sydney a version of “the 18th-century Romantic notion of ‘daemon’” brought to digital life. Because the daemon of Romantic imagination isn’t necessarily a separate being with its own intelligence: It might be divine or demonic, but it might also represent a mysterious force within the self, a manifestation of the subconscious, an untamed force within the soul that drives passion and creativity. And so it could be with a personalized A.I., were its simulation of a human personality allowed to develop and run wild. Its apparent selfhood would exist not as a thing in itself like human consciousness but as a reflective glass held up to its human users, giving us back nothing that isn’t already within us but without any simple linearity or predictability in what our inputs yield.
From the perspective of creative work, that kind of assistant or muse might be much more helpful (or, sometimes, much more destructive) than the dutiful and anti-creative Xeroxer of the internet that Kirn and Chiang discerned in the initial ChatGPT. You wouldn’t go to this A.I. for factual certainty or diligent research. Instead, you’d presume it would get some details wrong, occasionally invent or hallucinate things, take detours into romance and psychoanalysis and japery and so on — and that would be the point.
I suspected Ross would be one of the first to digest this and figure it out. Here is the (NYT) column.
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