[ExI] Language models are like mirrors

Gordon Swobe gordon.swobe at gmail.com
Sat Apr 1 03:15:14 UTC 2023

On Fri, Mar 31, 2023 at 8:25 PM spike jones via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

Gordon what I have learned from reading the discussion over the last few
> weeks is that even if we agree that ChatGPT is only a language model, some
> things still are not clear.  I had never thought of it this way, but what
> if… our own consciousness is merely a language model?  With certain
> critical enhancements of course.

I think those "critical enhancements" make all the difference. We certainly
have vocabularies and grammatical rules that tell us how words can be
placed together in strings, and so I think it's reasonable to say that our
minds *contain* something like language models, but we are more than our
models of language. Unlike these virtual LLMs, we have access also to the
referents in the world that give the words in language meaning.

GPT is trained only on the forms of words and not their meanings. Having no
experience of referents -- the objects and abstractions that words point to
outside of language and which give them meaning -- it can know only words
in terms of other words in terms of other words in terms of other words in
terms of other words, ad infinitum. This is enough to create the appearance
of understanding, but as ChatGPT itself says, it is only "simulated"
understanding. (I find it hilarious and ironic that the biggest supporters
of my arguments are the LLMs themselves. ChatGPT-4 "understands" how LLMs
work and how dumb they are under the hood.)

Also, presumably humans had conscious minds before the evolution of
symbolic thought. I doubt we were zombies before language.

This is why I am interested in bot^2 and bot^3 discussions.  I want to see
> if two or three bots can discuss something and come up with new insights
> somehow, any really new insights, the way we have in this forum.  So far I
> haven’t seen a trace of evidence they can do that.  Humans can, GPT cannot.


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