Title What Socrates might have made of AI generated text Media name/outlet Financial Times Media type Web Country/Territory United Kingdom Date 14/12/22 Description
Dave Lee (“Has relying on tech made us more stupid?”, Magazine, November 26) asks whether data-driven technologies have in some way undermined our capacities for learning and, in particular, whether AI-generated writing can reflect knowledge.
Plato, through the voice of Socrates, considers the nature of writing in the dialogue called Phaedrus. He reports the claim made by the inventor of writing, a mythical Egyptian figure called Theuth, that it will make people “wiser and will improve their memories; for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom”; and the rejoinder from the inventor’s patron that, on the contrary: “Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them.”
Socrates’s conclusion is that the written word is just a reminder of what is known to the person who truly knows, not knowledge itself. This applies, to the max, to the AI-generated text described in the article. Whatever it reflects, it is not wisdom or knowledge on the part of the person who gives it voice.
Persons Owen Kelly
- artificial intelligence
- business ethics