The question of artificial intelligence (AI) interests me as a physician and fiction writer. And not only because she promised to take my place in these two professions that I love!
I welcome the recent suggestion by AI stars to halt its development1It is the right time to allow humanity to realize what is happening, to think about it, and to act accordingly. Although the text of the petition indicates some of the dangers that lie ahead (tsunami of misinformation, the replacement of all professional activities, the loss of control over our civilization), it puts them forward as ends without speaking of how to achieve them.
One of these means seems to me as predictable as it is disastrous: the abolition of the truth.
My work as a physician imposes an empirical relationship with reality: cancer is real if seen under a microscope, COVID-19 is real when testing detects the virus.
Medicine’s power also comes from the fact that it alone determines what it looks at, as explained by Michel Foucault.
In my work as a fiction author, truth is not empirical. I try, in my books, to create enough real and fake worlds. These worlds are intended to clarify the meaning of the reality that readers discover through it, or to reveal a part of it that no one has hitherto noticed. The literary concept of truth is ambiguous. It appeals to context and sentiment. Who did not ask, like the philosophers of antiquity, what love is TRUE ? This dimension of truth is deeply cultural, and it sheds light on all knowledge that wants to be empirical, including medicine. In fact, true depression, in 2023, is one that meets the criteria proposed by the American Directory of Mental Disorders (DSM). This, almost admittedly, is an understatement to say the least.
Empirical truth and cultural truth
from the seventeenthH century In the West, the invention of measuring instruments expanded the range of human senses, and thus favored the emergence of empirical observation as the basis of truth. Galileo’s story has become a legend, the perfect example of timeless, empirically formed knowledge that goes against what the culture of a particular time and place accepts as true. It seems to me that this tension between empirical truth and cultural truth is essential when it comes to defining what is currently true.
I am neither a philosopher nor a historian. I’m afraid I suggested a simplified preamble.
On the subject of artificial intelligence, this nonetheless seems undeniable to me: it will soon be able to make proposals beyond empirical truth and beyond cultural truth. He might as well say beyond right and wrong!
In all areas such oracles will produce ideas so amazing and so useful, which will have nothing to do with human senses, will surpass understanding. Without the ability to consider them right or wrong, these ideas will have a profound impact on a person’s life. Technological innovations will not depend on science as we know it, which is taught and learned. Ideas will not come from the mind anymore.
What is at stake is the possibility of humans establishing a relationship with their world governed by thought.
In order to limit the harm, I will go further than the authors and authors of the petition and suggest that the mechanisms of artificial intelligence become the common property of all mankind. We have a special monopoly on the production of thoughts and ideas.
“Music guru. Incurable web practitioner. Thinker. Lifelong zombie junkie. Tv buff. Typical organizer. Evil beer scholar.”