[ExI] Symbol Grounding

Darin Sunley dsunley at gmail.com
Fri Apr 28 18:03:17 UTC 2023

GPT-4 is architecturally incapable of introspection. It has a lot of
knowledge on a wide variety of subjects, but the only things it knows about
itself is what has been written in its training material. It cannot
perceive its own decision making process directly, even to the extremely
limited extent humans can. I am therefore not terribly interested in what
it has to say about its own cognition and consciousness. (Beyond, of
course, being endlessly fascinated, entertained, and mildly future shocked
that it /can/ execute discourse on the nature of consciousness at all. Like
Scott Aaronson said, how is it people can stop being fascinated and amazed
at LLMs long enough to get angry with each other over them?) It's
statements about itself are fascinating, but not compelling.

Moreover, I have no idea what your "understanding meaning" even is. If
being able to give precise and correct definitions of every word it uses,
and using those words precisely correctly in the context of every other
word it knows, coining new words, providing operational definitions of
those new words, and again using them flawlessly in arbitrary contexts
isn't "understanding", than not only do I not know what "understanding" is,
but I'm not certain I care. The thing demonstrates every characteristic of
reading comprehension we assess school students for.

One might just as well say an electronic circuit doesn't /really/ do
arithmetic. That's as may be, but then I'm pretty sure I then don't
actually care about "real arithmetic." As with arithmetic, a flawless
imitation of understanding /is/ understanding. Why should I care about a
distinction that appears to have no difference?

On Fri, Apr 28, 2023 at 11:35 AM Gordon Swobe via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Apr 26, 2023 at 1:10 PM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> On 26/04/2023 18:32, extropy-chat-request at lists.extropy.org wrote:
>> On Wed, Apr 26, 2023 at 10:58 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> I wrote to you that in my opinion you were conflating linguistics and
>>> neuroscience.
>>> Actually, you went further than that, arguing that linguistics is not
>>> even the correct discipline.  But you were supposedly refuting my recent
>>> argument which is entirely about what linguistics — the science of language
>>> — can inform us about language models.
>>> -gts
>>> Yes, prior to my question. Which has a point. But you are still dodging
>>> it.
>> I simply have no interest in it.
>> OK, then. That clears that up. You have no interest in even listening to
>> someone else's argument, much less engaging with it. I get it.
> I explained that while your theory of spike trails in the brain and so on
> is interesting, it tells me nothing about how a digital computer with no
> brain and no nervous system and no sense organs or sensory apparatus
> whatsoever can understand the meanings of words merely from analyzing how
> they appear in relation to one another statistically in the corpus.
> The reality as I see it and *as GPT-4 itself explains it *is that it does
> not truly understand the meanings of words. We all find that amazing and
> difficult to believe as the words appear meaningful to us and sometimes
> even profoundly meaningful, but we as the end-users of this technology are
> the ones finding/assigning the meanings to the words. GPT-4 is merely
> generating symbols that it has a high degree of confidence will have
> meaning to us.
> -gts
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