Douglas Hofstadter thinks GPT-4 may undermine the “nature of truth on which our society is based”


  • Key points added from another Hofstadter essay

Update, July 9, 2023:

Hofstadter continues his musings in an article for The Atlanticcommenting in particular on large language models like GPT-4 that can generate superficial and incorrect information with great confidence.

This tone would lead even highly intelligent people to believe that machines could validly replace human authorship. But that, Hofstadter says, is an illusion.

The noted physicist works through a GPT-4 response that attempts to justify why he wrote “Gödel, Escher, Bach” from his perspective. The text, he says, is “a travesty from top to bottom” and gives “a highly misleading impression of who I am.”


Hofstadter’s verdict: “I frankly am baffled by the allure, for so many unquestionably insightful people (including many friends of mine), of letting opaque computational systems perform intellectual tasks for them.”

The “reflective voice of a thinking, living human being” cannot be replaced by the “artificial voice of a chatbot, chatting randomly away at dazzling speed” when it comes to discerning truth from falsehood and authenticity from fakery, Hofstadter thinks.

This is where Hofstadter sees the real danger of GPT-4 and its ilk – the language models could undermine the very nature of truth, and thus society as a whole.

To fall for the illusion that computational systems “who” have never had a single experience in the real world outside of text are nevertheless perfectly reliable authorities about the world at large is a deep mistake, and, if that mistake is repeated sufficiently often and comes to be widely accepted, it will undermine the very nature of truth on which our society—and I mean all of human society—is based.

Douglas Hofstadter

Original article from July 4, 2023:

“Gödel, Escher, Bach” author Douglas Hofstadter fears AI

A new niche has emerged in the AI ​​hype: The “AI doomer,” who predicts a bleak future for humanity based on current AI developments. This niche is gaining a prominent figure.


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