You Ask, I Answer: Answering the Same Generative AI Questions?

In today’s episode, Aurora asks if I ever get tired of answering the same AI questions over and over. I explain that it depends on the intent behind the questions – if someone genuinely wants to learn, I’m happy to discuss nuances, but if they just want to argue, it’s not productive. I unpack the concepts of system 1 and 2 thinking, how social media pushes snap judgments, and how AI could potentially help people see alternate perspectives. Tune in to hear more of my thoughts on repeating questions about AI, the empathy deficit, and nudging people towards critical thinking.

You Ask, I Answer: Answering the Same Generative AI Questions?

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In today’s episode, Aurora asks, I saw yet another comment against AI.

And I was wondering, do you ever get tired of saying the same thing to people over and over again? So here’s the thing.

It all depends on intent, right? So the reality is AI is new to a lot of people, the concept, maybe not.

But people have a lot of concepts that come from pop culture.

Things like, you know, the Terminator movies, Commander Data from Star Trek, going all the way back to, you know, the 1950s, and sci fi movies back then.

And a lot of the way that people have been taught to perceive AI is not what the technology does.

Right? The technology is predictive in nature, it is very predictable in a lot of ways, because the architectures that make these tools work, are just prediction engines.

When you look at how a transformer works, which is what powers tools like chat GPT, it is a prediction engine, it is trying to predict the next token in a sequence of tokens.

And yes, with enough data, they can exhibit very interesting properties like imitating reasoning, imitating empathy, imitating and emotional awareness, emotional intelligence.

They don’t actually have those things, but they do imitate them.

Well, there are other ways to do it.

And so if your beliefs about AI come from, you know, the Terminator movies, then of course, you’re going to have people saying the same thing over and over again, because that’s what pop culture has drilled into people’s heads.

That’s our, our common reference for what we think AI can and cannot do.

So the process of answering those questions is well understand, this is what the technology is capable of today.

This is what it’s not capable of.

There are some things and some topics and some questions, which, yes, they are.

It’s not that I get tired of them.

It’s that the intent is not good behind them.

I have no problem answering any question where the intent is for the for the question, or they want to learn something, right? I love answering even the same question over and over again.

Because if the person on the other end, wants to learn, great, I’m here to help people learn.

If it’s to get into a political argument, I’m less interested in that, that question, even if the question itself is valid, if the intent is just to troll or, or be pointlessly combative, that’s not a good use of my time, right? That’s not a good use of your time.

It’s not good use of the questioner’s time, it might make them feel better.

But I would, I would suggest in that case, maybe they argue with the machine, the machine can argue with them all they want.

And they get what they want, they get the emotional satisfaction of a good argument.

But it doesn’t waste anyone’s time except theirs.

There are always questions that can have multiple intent.

So you can have someone asking who wants to start your argument, but they may also come from a place where they don’t understand what’s going on.

And those are our case by case.

Again, one of the things that humans have forgotten and particularly with the help of devices like these is empathy, we are in a a massive worldwide empathy deficit, and empathy drought, where because our brains are not well suited towards complexity and nuance, for the most part, well, let me back up.

Daniel Kahneman is well known for describing what he calls system one and system to system one is reflexive cognition, you just do things, things are memorized, things are stored as patterns that you can react and act very quickly on system two is very high cognitive load stuff, reasoning, logic, emotional intelligence, empathy, you have to think things through, right? If I ask you what two plus two is, you know, four, right? That’s system one, very fast, very low cognitive burden.

And it’s the system that we default to for handling most of our common tasks, anything that’s routine, right? System one is when you’re walking, you don’t have to think about placing one foot in front of the other anymore, for the most part.

Now, obviously, there, there are people who do have to do you system to cognition to do that from disability and things like that.

But for the most part, most people use system one for that.

System two, which is advanced cognition requires a lot of mental resource, a lot of mental energy.

And so when you have people who are under stress, who are under a lot of strain or are feel besieged.

We tend to operate in system one during those times we make snap judgments, we try to classify everything very, very quickly, so that we can free up brain space to deal with things like survival, right? Can I do I make enough money this month to pay rent? Can I afford to to, you know, buy dinner tonight, those are all things that put a lot of strain on our systems.

And as a result, we we stay in system one, system one does not do nuance, right? System one is very binary thinking, it’s either this or that you’re either conservative or liberal, you’re in favor of this or that.

Because you want those snap judgments real fast.

When people ask questions that are inherently sort of system one questions, it’s hard to answer those because it won’t fit into that neat little bucket of it’s this or that.

A lot of the time when you’re dealing with very complex subjects, someone has to be in a system to mindset and they need to have the mental and emotional bandwidth to do that.

So when we talk about things like AI, and what AI is capable of, and the harms and the help that it can generate, there’s a lot of nuance, there’s a lot of well, it can harm and it can help and how it’s used is dependent on the user.

And if you are conditioned to a world delivered by these devices, where everything is system one, and AI is either good or bad, and there’s no middle ground.

Yeah, those questions that people ask, it’s not that I don’t get tired of answering them.

It’s that I know they’re not listening.

Right? I don’t get tired of them.

But I know they’re not listening.

They’re not cognitively ready to handle the nuance of the answer.

To say like, well, it’s this, and it’s that, right? Yes, AI will cost jobs, and it will create new jobs.

It’s not either or it’s both.

And this is something we all are dealing with.

This is not one group of people.

It’s not those people over there, those people there.

It’s not the Republicans or the Democrats.

It’s everybody who is using these things and operating in modern society, and being and direction to stay in system one.

Right? If you believe in sort of the dystopian AI future, people who want you to stay in system one generally have an agenda.

And the agenda is to support them unthinkingly, right reflexively, just as as fast as you answer what’s two plus two, if I say, you know, some politically motivated statement of a certain spectrum, a person who wants to manipulate you wants you in system one, they want you to go, Oh, I believe in that, or I don’t believe in that.

AI is going to take all the jobs or no AI is going to usher in a new age of mankind or AI is going to kill us all.

When someone’s pushing you towards system one, they have an agenda.

They don’t want a conversation about nuance.

They don’t want you to think.

They don’t want you to set aside time and bandwidth up here to go.

Wait a minute.

That doesn’t make sense.

Let’s think this through.

Let’s use some logic and some critical thinking.

This by the way, I think could be a very interesting application for the use of generative AI to help people who don’t have the bandwidth and maybe don’t have the background in the subject to do that system to thinking to say, Hey, let’s think this through.

Give me the pros and cons of this argument.

And if you have someone who is stuck in system one thinking, it might might be an interesting experiment to have them ask a machine to give those alternate perspectives because they know in intuitively and instinctively, that’s not another person over there, they’re not going to argue with me, I’m not gonna get into ad hominem attacks and things.

Chat GPT or Claude or Bing or Bard, assuming they will answer the question at all.

We’ll give a more nuanced balanced response with, in some cases, information to back it up.

So that’s a lot to unpack about answering the same question over and over again, it comes down to intent.

And when the intent is not in for informative and educational, even then, is it because the person has ill intent? Or is it because the person’s brain is stuck in system one thinking, by design by by the manipulation.

Of other people, and could answering the question in a certain way or using gender AI, perhaps nudge them into system to thinking where they can kind of see as Morpheus said in the matrix, they can kind of see the world that’s been pulled over their eyes.

Really good question.

Thanks for asking.

I’ll talk to you soon.

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