Larry Jordan

Everyone is related, and everything is connected.

Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence

Mar 01, 2023 by Larry Jordan, in The Way
Last week, I asked ChatGPT, an artifical intelligence (AI) app, to write a New York Times review of "The Way." Of course, the book is not available online, in bookstores, or in libraries, so the review was based solely on my author website and social media presence.

The app generated a four paragraph review in ten seconds. There is some awkward wording and some wild guessing, but it is pretty interesting (and scary) that the app can say so much about an unpublished book. Here is the conclusion, which some readers thought captured the essence :

"'The Way: Meaningful Spirituality for a Modern World' presents a timely interpretation of ancient teachings in fresh, easy to understand language. Jordan finds a balance of knowledge, experience, and practice, to connect readers of all backgrounds and spiritual persuasions with a meaningful and profound spiritual practice. There's something for everyone in this book, and readers looking to deepen their spiritual journey will find an effective guide. "'The Way' is a must read for those interested in exploring the deeper questions about faith and life in the 21st century. Through vivid personal anecdotes, historical context, and accessible language, Jordan helps readers to better understand the spiritual dynamics of their lives."

In the process of writing the book, I am becoming immersed in the book business, which is confronted with interesting questions about artificial intelligence:

Will authors begin to "write" books, relying partially or wholly on artificial intelligence? Have they already begun to do so?

How will we know? Should we care? Who would "own" the work? Could we enforce a copyright for computer-generated works? Should we be able to do so?

In the future, if most books are written by Google or Microsoft, rather than Faulkner or Hemingway, what will be gained, and what will be lost?

Will authors begin to "write" books from the perspective of an actual person or a fictional character, relying partially or wholly on artificial intelligence?

If so, has the author or the AI app infringed on a person (like Jesus) or a character (like Harry Potter?) Who owns Jesus' or Harry Potter's imaginary voices?

In writing the book, I thought a lot about topics like intelligence and intention. There are a number of philosophers and scientists who pose thought questions, like how do we know that our friend or neighbor is not a computer or a zombie? Do they demonstrate any "intelligence" that a computer or zombie do not? Going forward, it will be less likely for a computer to use awkward wording or wild guesses, so it will be more difficult to distinguish a computer from a person.

In the book, I came to understand God in impersonal terms, like the Universe, not in personal terms, like an old man with a beard. We can probably all agree that the Universe displays order, but do we agree that the Universe displays intention? Said differently, did our orderly world develop this way because a personal God intended it to be so or because an impersonal Universe evolved to be so? How would we know the difference?  Is God or the Universe a computer or a programmer?

Artificial intelligence will increasingly present challenging questions about the nature of humanity and (more broadly) about the nature of the Universe itself. Is there a special sauce that makes a human-generated book review more compassionate or wise than a computer-generated book review?  Likewise, is there a special sauce that makes a created or designed Universe more compassionate or wise than a developing or evolving Universe?

What does it really mean to be human, if a computer conveys objective facts (and replicates subjective impressions) as well or better than we can?