In the previous two articles we examined how Chat GPT can help marketing strategists by looking at this tool’s Information and Formulation capabilities. In this third instalment, we dive into the relationship I have developped with this A.I. and the existential questions it triggered. This all started when, after a series of prompts and answers, I closed the session by writing “Thank You”. And that was weird.
If you have not yet grasped the enormity of what I did, just picture yourself driving a car to go from A to B, and at the end of the journey, you say “Thank You” to your car. Weird. Only a car geek would say that… How can one thank an object, i.e. a non sentient machine, that cannot feel or reciprocate… ?
So there I was, finding myself growing affect for a machine. And since this is a machine, we can infer at best that this is a mental and personal construct, i.e. a story I was building to myself where I was personifying the A.I. in front of me. Is this normal doctor ?
Why we love tools
Yes, it is normal in the sense that one of the traits that characterise humans is the use and relationship they have with tools. Indeed, tools, like a simple stone to crash bones like the apes did in “2001, A Space Odyssey”, steam machines or A.I., are all instruments invented by humans to equip them additional capabilities, whether physical (use a hammer to plant a nail) or intellectual (Wikipedia on the internet) or practical (a GPS system).
Tools are part of the human condition : they enable to achieve more and better. In the liner text of the 1992 LP “Man Amplified”, Clock DVA go even further : “The first users of tools were not men (a fact appreciated only recently), but pre-human anthropoids. The old idea that man invented tools is misleading, more accurately tools invented man – so began the symbiosis.”
From a physical and energy exchange point of view, the Industrial Revolution is no more no less than the harnessing of energy to achieve more. In fact, environment consultant Jean-Marc Jancovici estimates that the energy used by a single person today equals the effort of 200 slaves in antique times. So tools do allow to do more, and we love that, we love the tools that put human desires at the center of everything. Look how much we love of iPhones, cars etc… can you imagine a world with no internet or today’s mobility ?
Trick and Treat ?
In this perspective, A.I. allows the ultimate love expression from humans to their tools because A.I. can reciprocate in languages and forms humans relate to. You can love the design or the quality of a hammer and relate to fond memories (if you’ve build great things with it), but the hammer will never be able to interact with you by itself. Unless a imitation of a relation kicks in, like A.I. does with Chat GPT, or as shown articifial dolls or companion robots.
So, we have the choice of letting ourselves to be tricked by Chat GPT / A.I. or not. And that is an key decision. Are you happy to personnify A.I. tools, i.e. to let yourself willingly be fooled and an artificial construct that will make you happier ? Or will you keep a clear barrier and only give your love to other humans, knowing that they can be disapointing and follow their own agenda, unless an A.I. if programmed in this sense ?
Who is the boss ?
The rising use of A.I. raises another question here. Who decides ? This simple question is full of consequences. As Yuval Noah Hariri explains in “Homo Deus”, A.I. today is limited by the amount of information it takes in to make a suggestion. Or, the more complete a data set, the better the suggestion in theory. As a simple example, the GPS calculates a best route based on constraints such as avaialble roads, traffic and travel priorities (cheapest, fastest…) and we follow the recomendation withouth questioning the GPS. So, we already are giving up the decision to a machine (even if a GPS is not dubbed as A.I.). The same happens with connected watches which measure blood pressure or steps, and then suggest physical exercise as a coach.
Harriri goes a bit further and argues that, fed with the correct data on personality or physical characteristics, A.I. will be able to predict the chances of success of a couple. Now, if a speed dating A.I. estimates that the chances of long term success with the person in front of you are close to nil, who will you listen to ? Your guts that tell you that the person in front of you is hot, or a machine which you know that will statistically be right and suggest to forget about this infatuation ?
This example may seem trivial, but it actually shows that even in inter human relations, we can, if not careful, give up the decision making (even if we are wrong) to the machine and the data. And perhaps forget how to use empathy to better know the person in front of you. Just like many of us forgot how to read and use a road map with a GPS…
Dataism vs. Humanism
From a philosophical stand point, we are witnessing the emergence of DATAISM, i.e. the idea that information flow is the supreme value. And by supreme value, we mean moral value but also financial, especially if one considers how our data is used as a currency to get our attention time.
From a historical perspective, Dataism may replace Humanism, i.e. the idea that human beings are at the center of attention and which started during the Renaissance in reaction to systems which put religion at the center of everything. It is precisely the importance of humans, and therefore their well being which fostered democratical system and the industrial revolution.
The paradox with Dataism is that this idea can also be used for the well being and happiness of humans : if one takes the speed dating example from above, a happy couple that lasts for long is certainly more desirable to many than a heart broken or loneliness. But the price to pay for this is to abandon the decision to A.I. Are we ready to do it ?
The 2 key questions raised by A.I.
I realise that what started as an examination of a much publicised tool under the marketing discipline approach ended up as existential questions. But as A.I. triggers so much excitement and phantasies at the same time, I felt it was important to dig the why of these ambivalent feelings. Because after all, the job of good marketeer is to understand the world we live in to propose solutions that allow to grow and be better.
So, with Chat GPT, the two questions I’ll leave you with are :
- Are you ready to see A.I. as a real person? and
- Are you ready to let the machine decide for you?