[ExI] all we are is just llms was: RE: e: GPT-4 on its inability to solve the symbol grounding problem

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Fri Apr 21 01:07:53 UTC 2023






I received this from Bengali note from Giovanni, but I see his message went to ExI as well.  I wrote the reply below to Giovanni as an offlist, but it doesn’t have anything in it which is any sillier than the usual stuff I post here, so I shall post it forward.




From: spike at rainier66.com <spike at rainier66.com> 
Subject: RE: [ExI] all we are is just llms was: RE: e: GPT-4 on its inability to solve the symbol grounding problem




From: Giovanni Santostasi <gsantostasi at gmail.com <mailto:gsantostasi at gmail.com> > 
Subject: Re: [ExI] all we are is just llms was: RE: e: GPT-4 on its inability to solve the symbol grounding problem


>…By the way, did you hear that a Google version of an LLM was given just a few prompts in Bengali … 




Hmmm, I don’t know what to make of it Geovanni.  It cannot be creating information (in the form of being able to translate.)  Like any human, regardless of the intelligence of that human, it would need to somehow be given a reference source to explain the definitions of Bengali terms.  Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean.


Many years ago when I was many years younger than I am now, I was working in an office with a number of young singles who were likewise many years younger than they are now.  They made it a cheerful custom to go out together and party at a local bar on Friday nights.  They invited me, but  I demurred, for two good reasons:  first, I was married, and second, I do like using the term demur.  I have long felt that terms should have an opposite or counterpart, ideally using the same form, in order to simplify language.  Had I accepted the invitation from my colleagues, would I then mur?  Would I have murred their invitation, for I am known for murring such occasions?


But I digress.  In any case, I chose to leave my single office mates to celebrate at their riotous leisure, which was the fiftieth anniversary of spam (the original spam, not the later electronic advertising.)  Being a fan of the stuff (I blush (hey, we 60s kids grew up on the revolting tripe)) I was sad to miss the occasion, but wrote a poem about it (several rather elaborate verses) and gave it to them at the office.  Later I heard the party was a total hoot.  They doled out the poem, reading it once verse at a time during the entire baccinalian feast.


About five years went by.  The organizer of those festivities wrote a sci-fi novel in which the characters in one hilarious passage were wildly celebrating the centennial of the ham-flavored foodlike product.  He asked me to proof read his novel, in which the main character of the novel recited a poem written by the characters’ absent colleague.  I commented to the author that the poem sounded familiar.  He replied “It aughta.  You wrote it.”  I was appalled of course that I would create such silliness, but… I did.  I blush.  Or rather, I would have blushed, were I physically capable of the emotion others describe as embarrassment.  


That author is still living.  I get Christmas cards from him still.


On the main list, I mentioned a friend from college who taught me the basics of computer maintenance (back in the days when the discs were the size of a garbage can lid and had to be changed out manually.)  He is, if anything, even more convinced than you are that ChatGPT is a conscious being.  I demur from arguing with him over it because he is a real programmer, whereas I am merely an engineer.



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