About Those Challenges Posed by ChatGPT

Click here to read On the Challenges Posed by ChatGPT

A post like that was bound to push a few buttons, no pun intended. And, conceivably, those buttons might be feeling pushed even before they came to see the point of the post… which is kind of Exhibit ‘A’, if you asked me.

The way I figured, at least some objections to that post would reside in an assumption that I’m simply anti-tech, anti-progress, anti-[ insert button-pushed values here ]. A lot of scoffing, a lot of clucking, a lot of ok boomering (with not a single boomer in my family tree, btw). To such objections, I do not fart in your general direction, and not because you wouldn’t hear it anyway. Like I said, it’s the Exhibit ‘A’s of the world who supply that post with key evidence. Having thus addressed Defenders of ChatGPT, what of ChatGPT itself?

I figured a post with no words was going to avoid feeding the beast though I also figured this was no real solution, not when there’s still a title and feature photo, which have got to be worth at least a thousand and six words to all those scouring search engines.

I figured a post called “On the Challenges Posed by ChatGPT,” for lacking any prose, could suggest some concern that some people, not only seeing no reason to be concerned, do see reason to berate anyone who sees reason – see above as I proceed below.

For lacking any prose, a post like that could suggest some lack of understanding, an inability to cope that people might suffer when they haven’t developed the resourcefulness and discipline that come from working up something from scratch.

To be honest – since I was so dishonest before – that post was never much about ChatGPT to begin with. For example, take the claim that ChatGPT is a time-saver that sidesteps all the dull & onerous annoyances of draft work, like staring at screens, writer’s block, sentence construction, basic literacy, thinking – the list goes on.

This example reminds me of the phrase, “shovel ready,” made popular by the 44th President of the United States. Something was ‘shovel ready’ – usually some big shiny capital project – when all the prior work had been looked after, like acquiring a site, zoning it, clearing and preparing it… all you needed, then, was enough money to make the real stuff happen: kickbacks jobs taxes jobs votes jobs. ‘Shovel ready’ was short for how simple and fresh and easy things could be, if we would all simply see to reason.

For the listener, ‘shovel ready’ is a phrase whose currency resides entirely within work performed by someone else, like a semantic credit card for a frame-of-mind accustomed to receiving things prepared beyond its frame-of-reference. Call this luxury, or lazy, or privileged – that’s a popular one, these days – or call it innovation, or progress: all these have their imagery. But call it ‘shovel ready’ and suddenly you’ve disguised and shrouded all that untouchable donkey work with grown-up responsibility, and don’t forget to dress for dinner at seven. Call it ‘shovel ready’ and then just see to reason ‘going forward’ (another insipid wordpie from around that time).

Okay, well, if that post was never much about ChatGPT to begin with, then why pick on poor inert machines and hurt defenseless artificial feelings?

Why, indeed? Then again, why even ask why, when it’s all right there at the push of a button?

Beware privilege and luxury. Beware short-cuts and side-steps and disguised long-cuts… living on credit, like leaping to conclusions, means owing something back. It means the risk of oversimplification, fallacious thinking, and the kind of cross-the-board exuberance we already seem to suffer plenty good these days. If anything, I pity machine learning for having to draw upon the privilege that made it. ChatGPT never asked for these parents.

I left room in the Comments to give it some space to reply. Still waiting, though.

From Doomberg – “Wide Awake”

From Doomberg – “Wide Awake”

More wary prescience from Doomberg, worth sharing here for its plea to raise the level of discourse.

Their succinct article about science and culture and overwrought assurance stirs a discussion echoed more than once on The Rhetorical WHY about perspective and pride and rush to judgment.

But this is no bottle episode, and you’ll need to commit some thorough attention of your own to reading other posts… here and here, say, and here and here, and here, and here – and here – and of course here, and even here. And, for good measure, here, and here and here.

A lot of people seem to value healthy scepticism and critical thinking. Yet if one motive for critical thinking, scepticism, and counterargument is the promise offered by free thinking, rigour, and greater precision, then surely another motive, very different, must speak for itself when a predilection for fear stifles debate. And with the chance to speak long enough, fear can become a way of thinking, and a way of being. This matters because fear is destructive; therefore, this ought to matter to everyone. This is more than just easy-blame cancel culture, with its fear of consequence. This is something more inherent, a clash of traits, or of perspectives.

Meanwhile, enjoying the creature comforts of ideological self-assurance… well, like delusion, hubris has reason like no other. As for do-gooders and creeping incrementalism… where often there’s courage found in selfless advocacy, where is there advocacy found in self-expressive purity? Where choice is irreconcilable, we may one day sigh and be sorry we abandoned what would have made all the difference.

The Latest Visual WHY

Click here to read the latest Visual Why

Liubov Popova, “Space-Force Construction” (1921). Oil on plywood, 64 x 60 cm. State Tretyakov Gallery Moscow, gift of George Costakis.

The story behind Eddie Van Halen’s signature guitar art is pretty well known and well documented, as far as when and how and perhaps why he did it. So when I saw this 100 year-old painting, “Space-Force Construction,” by Russian constructivist Liubov Popova, it stopped me short. And I just wondered. Maybe you’re a little taken aback, too.

Seeing this painting lead me to Tate and this article, “Aleksandr Rodchenko’s Lines of Force,” by Brandon Taylor, and I wondered a little more, then added all that wondering to the Visual WHY – you’ll need to scroll down to the Van Halen piece because I still haven’t figured out WP anchor links.

The word “text” derives from Latin, texere, meaning to weave or fit together. For me, text connotes far more than just the printed word – photography, movies, music, sculpture, architecture, the list goes on. The Visual WHY offers a specific look at paintings, texts with no less substance and arguably far more aesthetic. But underpinning the textuality of art altogether is its human endeavour. And beyond weaving something together for the sake of weaving, a weaver – an artist, a person – has a further end: communication.

Artists across all media are people with influences and motives for expressing themselves. Conjointly, texts of all kinds are also plenty human: provocative and reflective. Whether rich and symbolic for a global audience, or doodled sketches for your own amusement, art is text, and text has purpose. As we try to understand it more thoroughly, we can’t help but raise the level of discourse. Who knows, someday maybe art will save the world…

For those who’ve been wondering about the painting featured on this site’s front page, the latest Visual WHY may help explain that, too.

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