How to Impress Bill Gates
Bill Gates says he was really impressed by two “demos” in his life: the first time during the presentation of the interface with the computers which will be at the origin of Windows… And the second time was during the demo of ChatGPT last September. You may like Bill Gates or not but that tells us something about the importance of this new technology, at least in his eyes!
And Bill Gates is apparently not the only one who was impressed. Five days ! That’s what it took for ChatGPT to attract 1 million users. By way of comparison, to obtain such an audience, ten months were necessary for Facebook, more than two years for Airbnb and three and a half years for Netflix. The number of ChatGPT users exceeded 100 million in January 2023!
And at the same time, as I write these lines, several artificial intelligence specialists are asking for a moratorium of several months on the development of ChatGPT and its competitors because of its dangers.
Thus, I observe that most articles on the subject of artificial intelligence revolve around “AI is great, it will give us a bright future, take us out of suffering and misery”. Or conversely “AI is bad, we’re all going to lose our jobs, and it’s the near end of humanity”.
What a futuristic monk thinks
So, I would like to talk to you about what I didn’t read elsewhere…
And as usual, my futuristic monk side is more inclined to speak to you about the evolution of consciousness and emergences, and not just about technology…
I would like to talk to you about the relationship between human beings, that is to say us, and artificial intelligence or more exactly one of its most powerful avatars today, what we call generative AI. The best known is therefore the one Bill Gates is talking about: ChatGPT from the company OpenAI.
And more specifically, I would like to tell you about 3 aspects that are close to my heart:
- The relationship between AI and humans today
- The relationship between AI and the youngest, especially in education
- And some personal thoughts on the future of the relationship between AI and humans
My own experience with ChatGPT
So for the past few months, we have been talking a lot about OpenAI and ChatGPT, officially released at the end of 2022.
A generative artificial intelligence (AI) is a type of AI that is designed to create new data or content from existing data sets. These AI models are based on deep learning algorithms, specifically artificial neural networks, and are trained on huge amounts of data. Thus Chat GPT is designed to understand and generate natural language text, which makes it capable of interacting with users through text conversations.
In short, you ask a question to ChatGPT and it answers you.
I experimented with ChatGPT (GPT 3 and GPT4) and to a lesser extent another tool, Jasper.
From my little experience, what struck me the most was ChatGPT’s ability to generate ideas and thus avoid the anxiety of the blank page when I have to write something or even design a new project. For example, I asked ChatGPT to suggest ideas for designing a Team building game to go with one of my keynotes. Many of the ideas were completely “off the mark” but some still inspired me. Most importantly, I was able to ask ChatGPT to develop my own ideas, much like having a friend or colleague I could brainstorm with.
In summary, I loved the idea generation, much less the tedious work of selection and formatting that I have to do before having a presentable and usable text or project.
And in writing this, I realize the enormity of what I have just written:
- The AI was good at generating ideas (I dare not write “create” because I believe it is a different process) AND it is precisely this part that I thought would remain the exclusive domain of humans
- It’s up to me to edit and format, which I thought was fundamentally simpler and therefore from the domain of machines
So what left me most pensive in my experiments was this question:
Will human beings become a kind of proofreader, or assistant, of what AI produces? I guess that’s kind of the opposite of the intended purpose…
Hal, the Artificial Intelligence from the 2001 Space Odyssey movie (spoiler: the experiment with Hal did not end well…)
ChatGPT (or other AIs) at school?
I remember that when I was still a high school student the debate was raging (especially at the level of the parents, much less at the level of the students…) between the pros and the anti-calculators: Should we let the students use it?
I notice that today we all, young and old, have in our pockets with our smartphones more computing power than the entire Apollo program had at its disposal to send humans walking on the moon and bring them back to earth.
So I guess the calculator debate in school is over!
It is with this debate in mind that I read the opinions of pro and anti-ChatGPT at school or university. And based on the experience of the calculator and, even if from my point of view we are not on the same scale of technological revolution, it seems to me that the right questions rather than for or against, are:
- How to teach students (young… and older) to use it? In particular how to interact and converse with the AI. How to ask him the right questions, the right “prompts”?
- How to know and recognize the limits of AI from an early age? How to identify so-called AI “hallucinations”?
- And the most important thing to me: how could artificial intelligence become a kind of personalized tutor, educational assistant or learning companion and thus allow him/her to learn better and faster?
The future of the human relationship with Artificial Intelligence
Should we be worried about the future of the human-AI relationship? Will humans be overtaken or even eliminated by one form of artificial intelligence?
Often when we ask ourselves this question, we mainly look at the possible evolutions of artificial intelligence and much less at the possible evolution of human beings.
Personally, I believe that no matter how fast AI evolves, if humans don’t evolve, sooner or later they will be overtaken!
So, two questions seem to be essential and urgent:
- What is a human being?
- Can the human being achieve a “singularity of consciousness”?
What is a human being?
What is a human being? For more than 2000 years, some people have been asking themselves the question, mainly philosophers and religious or spiritual persons. Today, I have the feeling that it has become an existential question, in the literal sense, that everyone must ask themselves.
For example, I believe that the question of when artificial intelligence will pass the Turing test has not been the right question for some time now. The Turing test is a test proposed by Alan Turing in 1950 to assess a machine’s ability to mimic human behavior indistinguishably. The test consists in making a human and a machine dialogue without the human knowing if his interlocutor is a machine or a human being. If the machine is able to trick the human into believing that it is itself a human being, it is considered to have passed the test.
The right question, in my opinion, is therefore rather: am I more human than an AI?
I do feel like I’m meeting more and more people who wouldn’t pass the Turing test!
So sometimes I have the feeling that I’m talking not with humans, but with not very advanced machines… For example, people who just repeat, without hindsight and without thinking, the last article they saw on Facebook or the last Tik Tok video. Or the poor humans who work in call centers…
Alan Turing (this is not a call center!)
The Singularity of Consciousness
The term “singularity” has been popularized by futurists and AI researchers like Ray Kurzweil, who predicts that this singularity could occur sometime in the 21st century.
Singularity, also called “technological singularity”, is a concept that describes the point in the future when technological progress, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence, would become so rapid and so profoundly transformative that it would bring about unimaginable changes in human society.
The idea of singularity thus suggests that at some point, intelligent machines might become able to improve themselves autonomously, by designing and building even smarter machines, without direct human intervention. This process of self-improvement, which I call self-amplification or the butterfly effect, could result in what is called an explosion of intelligence, rapidly overtaking human intellectual capacity!
So if AI is rapidly evolving to approach and eventually overtake a singularity, what is left for humans?
Here we find again the questions: “What is a human being” and of course “What are our capacities to evolve”.
A little extra soul
Many voices in the Singularity and Transhumanism camps argue that we are moving towards the merging of man and machine, technology and biology. If so, then defining humanity will be even more essential!
Is the human being also able to evolve without merging with the machine? This is what people as varied as Pierre Teilhard du Chardin or Sri Aurobindo believe…
Personally, I believe that the human-technology fusion has already begun with our smartphone always within reach (and with the almost amputated feeling that more and more people feel when they are away from their telephone for more than a few minutes…)
So, I believe that our mission is to contribute to achieving a kind of Singularity of consciousness, the equivalent in humans of the technological singularity in machines. So, merged or not with the machines, we could retain what I will call a little extra soul compared to the machines…
In summary, here are my thoughts and advice on AI so far:
- Let’s now teach young and old how to interact with this new tool
- Let us reflect, individually and collectively, on what is the essence of a human being that is not found in machines. What are the bases of our humanity?
- And let’s try, there too individually and collectively, to evolve on these bases so that if there is a Singularity, it is not only technological but also a singularity of consciousness, a significant evolution of the human being
What does ChatGPT think?
To conclude, I of course asked ChatGPT what it thought of a possible singularity of human consciousness. Here is its response:
The idea of a “singularity of consciousness” or a significant evolution of human consciousness in response to the technological singularity is an interesting hypothesis. It suggests that, in the face of the challenges and opportunities posed by rapid advances in artificial intelligence and technology, humans could also evolve, either naturally or through technological enhancements, to increase their awareness, understanding and wisdom.
There are several ways this could happen:
- Cognitive enhancement: Technologies to enhance human cognitive abilities, such as brain-machine interfaces, brain stimulation, or nootropics, could allow humans to keep pace with technological change, increasing their intelligence, memory, and ability to solve complex problems.
- Personal and spiritual development: The evolution of human consciousness could also be stimulated by personal and spiritual development practices, such as meditation, mindfulness and introspection. These practices could improve our understanding of ourselves and our relationship with others and with the world around us, allowing us to better navigate the challenges posed by technological singularity.
- Education and collaboration: The promotion of education, cooperation and knowledge sharing on a global scale can also contribute to the evolution of human consciousness. By emphasizing continuous learning and collaborative global problem solving, we may be better prepared to deal with the rapid changes brought about by the Singularity.
If ChatGPT says so…