Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 214. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2020-08-04 07:35:52+00:00 From: Willard McCarty
Subject: questions about questions In one of my favourite novels, Zia Haider Rahman's In the Light of What We Know, the narrator, questioning his own thoughts, muses that "the only answers each of us hears are to the questions we are capable of asking.” In the present context, this suggests to me that Brigitte Rath's "What kinds of questions does GPT-3 raise for you?" (Humanist 34.203) is perhaps more worth pursuing in an open discussion than we may have realised. So, to respond to her: mine are about the perspectives or inclinations with which we begin forming the questions we ask. The first is the orientation to mimesis, or rather, the limitation of perspective to only that. If something not of our biological kind can successfully do what we do, so that it passes the 'test' that Turing never named a test, rather a 'game', then it raises a question, or a bundle of them. This is something the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori understood (he of the "uncanny valley" fame). Imitation is only the first step; that which an imitation of ourselves fails to do is, as Jerome McGann once wrote, "the hem of a quantum garment", a.k.a. a game-changer. The second is the kind of response that Ananda Coomaraswamy once identified with a particular Sanskrit term he translated as "nothing-more-ism". (I'd be very grateful to know what this Sanskrit term is and where Coomaraswamy discussed it, or better, if there's other commentary on it.) In other words, the response that sums to "this is nothing more than X", where X is a matter pointless to pursue. Ok, 'intelligence', like 'consciousness', is a term that seems impossible to get a handle on. But that does not mean that the effort to do so is worthless. Anything but: consider, for example, these two very different responses to those two elusive words: 1. On 'intelligence': G.E.R. Lloyd, Intelligence and intelligibility (OUP, 2020); 2. On consciousness: Roger Penrose, "Physics and the mind", in Penrose, Shimony, Cartwright and Hawking, The Large, the Small and the Human Mind (CUP 1997); Lex Fridman's recent interview with Penrose, "Consciousness is not a computation", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXgqik6HXc0 Comments? Yours, WM -- Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org) _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: email@example.com List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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