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Why ChatGPT Isn’t Truly “Intelligent”

Artificial Intelligence Robot Thinking Desk

A new paper argues that AI’s intelligence, as seen in systems like ChatGPT, is fundamentally different from human intelligence due to its lack of embodiment and understanding. This difference highlights that AI does not share human concerns or connections with the world.

A recent paper by UC’s Anthony Chemero explains AI thinking as opposed to human thinking.

The rise of artificial intelligence has elicited varied responses from technology executives, government officials, and the general public. Many are enthusiastic about AI technologies like ChatGPT, viewing them as beneficial tools with the capacity to revolutionize society.

However, there is also a sense of concern among some, who fear that any technology described as “intelligent” might possess the capability to surpass human control and dominance.

AI’s Distinct Nature from Human Intelligence

The University of Cincinnati’s Anthony Chemero, a professor of philosophy and psychology in the UC College of Arts and Sciences, contends that the understanding of AI is muddled by linguistics: That while indeed intelligent, AI cannot be intelligent in the way that humans are, even though “it can lie and BS like its maker.”

Anthony Chemero

Anthony Chemero, distinguished research professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Cincinnati. Credit: Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

According to our everyday use of the word, AI is definitely intelligent, but there are intelligent computers and have been for years, Chemero explains in a paper he co-authored in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

Characteristics and Limitations of AI

To begin, the paper states that ChatGPT and other AI systems are large language models (LLM), trained on massive amounts of data mined from the internet, much of which shares the biases of the people who post the data.

“LLMs generate impressive text, but often make things up whole cloth,” he states. “They learn to produce grammatical sentences, but require much, much more training than humans get. They don’t actually know what the things they say mean,” he says. “LLMs differ from human cognition because they are not embodied.”

The people who made LLMs call it “hallucinating” when they make things up; although Chemero says, “it would be better to call it ‘bullsh*tting,’” because LLMs just make sentences by repeatedly adding the most statistically likely next word — and they don’t know or care whether what they say is true.

And with a little prodding, he says, one can get an AI tool to say “nasty things that are racist, sexist, and otherwise biased.” 

The Human Element in Intelligence

The intent of Chemero’s paper is to stress that the LLMs are not intelligent in the way humans are intelligent because humans are embodied: Living beings who are always surrounded by other humans and material and cultural environments.

“This makes us care about our own survival and the world we live in,” he says, noting that LLMs aren’t really in the world and don’t care about anything.  

The main takeaway is that LLMs are not intelligent in the way that humans are because they “don’t give a damn,” Chemero says, adding “Things matter to us. We are committed to our survival. We care about the world we live in.”

Reference: “LLMs differ from human cognition because they are not embodied” by Anthony Chemero, 20 November 2023, Nature Human Behaviour.
DOI: 10.1038/s41562-023-01723-5

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