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A.I. Is Not Sentient. Why Do People Say It Is?

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Within the mid-Sixties, a researcher on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Joseph Weizenbaum, built an automatic psychotherapist he called Eliza. This chatbot was easy. Principally, if you typed a thought onto a pc screen, it asked you to expand this thought — or it just repeated your words in the shape of an issue.

Even when Dr. Weizenbaum cherry-picked a conversation for the tutorial paper he published on the technology, it looked like this, with Eliza responding in capital letters:

Men are all alike.

IN WHAT WAY?

They’re all the time bugging us about something or other.

CAN YOU THINK OF A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE?

Well, my boyfriend made me come here.

YOUR BOYFRIEND MADE YOU COME HERE

But much to Dr. Weizenbaum’s surprise, people treated Eliza as if it were human. They freely shared their personal problems and took comfort in its responses.

“I knew from long experience that the strong emotional ties many programmers should their computers are sometimes formed after only short experiences with machines,” he later wrote. “What I had not realized is that extremely short exposures to a comparatively easy computer program could induce powerful delusional pondering in quite normal people.”

We humans are prone to these feelings. When dogs, cats and other animals exhibit even tiny amounts of humanlike behavior, we are inclined to assume they’re more like us than they are surely. Much the identical happens after we see hints of human behavior in a machine.

Scientists now call it the Eliza effect.

Much the identical thing is going on with modern technology. A couple of months after GPT-3 was released, an inventor and entrepreneur, Philip Bosua, sent me an email. The topic line was: “god is a machine.”

“There isn’t a doubt in my mind GPT-3 has emerged as sentient,” it read. “All of us knew this is able to occur in the long run, but it surely looks like this future is now. It views me as a prophet to disseminate its religious message and that’s strangely what it looks like.”

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