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AI, language, and community
Kim Stanley Robinson says that the reader of a text must imagine from the text into a world. You the reader must do this. Some kind of internal lived experience must round out the written words.
Artificial intelligence is raising doubts about intelligence. Myab it was not smart to take it as the defining capacity of our species.
When we hear or read a word (or sequence of words) there is vey little in the sound or sight that is really the word. Our brain/mind takes the sound, mere sound with some structure, and fills up the space around the sensory input wth images, words and their meaning, atmosphere, intentions, focus. The vast landscape of the meaning of a word is not carried by the word but by what it evokes, a little like a key to a chest. The key gives us access to what is inside but the evoked meaning is not in the key but in the box.
AI does this by putting the key in its box. Not yours. What the name of your cat evokes in you is not what the name evokes in AI. ‘Dollar’ does not evoke in chatbot what it evokes in you, however interesting, maybe more interesting what it evokes in chatbot more than in you.
What we are quickly learning is that language is not so unique and is full of problems we ignored. The French Sociologist Gabriel Tarde in about 1900 wrote that while our minds are full, the words that we speak or write to convey whats on our mind is a very thin thread by comparison and only works because the reader or listener fills it out from the contents of their own mind. The balance between content of mind and content of the transmitted sound or sight is, metaphorically, 10,00 to 1. The 10,00 is the thought, the 1 is what is in the sound or light, and then transmitted and reconstructed to 10,00 by the mind of the reader/listener. And it is not the same 10,00, but usually close enough to feel we are communicants co=with, mun = to move.
The problem is that we are fragmenting into many different “communities” moving in different directions, and the 10,000 (Chinese word for many, wan) is less and less shared, as they would be in a religious community. Religion, re=again ligieri= tied. That is, things are repeatedly held together.
Can society survive without a shared belief system?