Oracles and Artificial Intelligence

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In this ~35 minute walk I talk about philosophical themes related to artificial intelligence and our attitudes towards it. In outline:

  • There are similarities between modern attitudes towards AI and how ancient folks would treat oracles as authoritative and infallible.
  • Story about the Oracle of Apollon in Delphi and how it would provide non-answers to questions that could not be reduced to a “yes or no”.
  • Explanation of how we must think about complexity and what our attitude should be towards presumed oracular wisdom.
  • Oracles or AI are neither good nor bad. It depends on how we deal with them. Discussion about being gullible or not.
  • Story about Prometheus, the know-how of fire, and whether tools are good/bad for us.
  • Avoiding extremes by trying to be less presumptuous about our capacity for good/evil.
  • Switching gears to individuals affairs. Talk about feelings of expertise; of setting goals and accomplishing them.
  • There is value to be had in mastery, in not copy-pasting answers, but in actually understanding things in-depth.
  • Talk about how prior notes/work frames and limits our creativity. AI can do the same if we get in the bad habit of not putting in the hard work.
  • Connection between these insights and what I covered at length in my presentation about “productivity, honesty, and accountability structures”:
  • Do not underestimate your potential and how you can feel inexorable when you put in the effort.