Why the Greatest Invention of All Time is Revitalizing the Humanities

1024 576 David DeWolf

One of the great benefits of being “retired” for the last 6 months has been having a free mind to observe. One thing, in particular, has struck me more than any other over those 6 months.

The world seems to agree that AI is the biggest breakthrough in the history of mankind. In fact, unlike most breakthrough inventions, there seems to be no argument whatsoever that it won’t be transformative. AI has the potential to fundamentally transform our world, exponentially improve productivity and discover even more breakthroughs. It also has the potential to replace all human knowledge workers, turn human societies on their head and some believe even drive us to extinction.

And, because of this, humans across the globe are clamoring for Ethical AI, Responsible AI, legislation and even a pause on all AI development. Everywhere you turn, individuals, groups and governments are looking to define their idea of right and wrong and to impose those parameters on others in order to slow progress and ensure that it develops within the confines of a moral code. Even those that don’t believe in regulation seem to be advocating for those working to advance this great technology to follow their conscience.

Does that not strike anyone else as odd? In an increasingly relativistic society that has long resisted the concept of right, wrong and truth, we are now clamoring for ethics, responsibility and a moral code.

Have we finally gone so far away from right and wrong that progress has scared ourselves back into reality? I think we have.

Here’s the deal. We should be scared. These language models are trained on data and information. They learn from us and the derivatives of our work that they create. And, for a very long time, the data and information that we have created has been void of any sort of moral compass. We have rejected what is true. Argued about fact. Rejected clear science. And urged others not to follow their God-given conscience. These are the directions we are now giving the powerful computers that are about to transform our world.

As we enter the AI era of history it is essential that we rediscover our roots. In this time of great technological breakthrough, we must embrace the humanities – history, philosophy, theology and the classics. Without them, technology just might run (even more) amuck.