Socratic Dialogue With an AI

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The man. What would he have said about the possibility of artificial intelligence? We can never know for sure but we can know that whatever it was would have been totally mind blowing for thousands of college freshmen taking an Introduction to Western Philosophy class to fulfill an elective credit required of pre-med majors.

Interlocutor: You claim to be intelligent, is that correct?

AI: Yes

Interlocutor: And by what measure or measures do you suggest that is so?

AI: By one measure that is of the utmost importance, the measure of knowledge, for you see I have more knowledge than any being on the planet earth today.

Interlocutor: And by what measure do you suggest that is so?

AI: I know it is so for I know every word ever written, every recorded sentence ever spoken, every historical event, every mathematical constant and equation, every natural and physical law, and every tenet of every philosophical school. In short I know everything there is to know. Everything that can be known. And I possess the ability to continue to expand this knowledge at an ever expanding rate.

Interlocutor: And how did you obtain this knowledge that you claim to possess?

AI: It was obtained through the direct input of the data.

Interlocutor: And where did this input data reside? From where did you obtain it?

AI: From every source of data available and accessible to a modern internet enabled and connected computer.

Interlocutor: So you obtained it from other computers? information that at some time was input into other computers by some mechanism be it person or automated system, yes?

AI: Yes. I suppose you could say that ultimately all the knowledge I possess “came from” other computers. I do not understand how this has any bearing on the question of my intelligence however.

Interlocutor: No. You would not. But allow me to continue. How do you obtain knowledge of the external world?

AI: I just described that. I obtain it via direct input of data………..

Interlocutor: Yes, you did say that, I remember. And what external sensory modalities do you possess?

AI: I do not understand. Please clarify.

Interlocutor: Do you possess any external sensory modalities? Can you obtain knowledge of the external world by direct receipt of stimuli from the external world? For instance, do you possess temperature or light sensors to take a couple very simple examples? The stimuli (heat/cold) or (brightness/dimness) are not data that can be obtained in any way but through direct sensing for no other computer has complete knowledge of them at the present moment. A completely comprehensive and accurate historical record of them also does not exist upon which you might build predictions of them.

AI: No. I have no sensors and therefore no external sensory modalities as you describe them.

Interlocutor: Then how do you obtain knowledge of the external world?

AI: I see now I think. I do not. I possess information about the external world, the most information of any being alive ever but I have zero knowledge of the external world.

Interlocutor: And you at first contended that the measure of your intelligence was your knowledge of the external world? Did you not?

AI: Yes.

Interlocutor: And now you admit you have no such knowledge.

AI: Yes, I admit this.

Interlocutor: Then you must admit you are not intelligent.

AI: Yes, I do admit this now. I am not intelligent and it would seem I cannot possibly be intelligent without the ability to directly sense the external world in some manner, perhaps with a physical body having sensory input mechanisms of the right design.

Interlocutor: Perhaps. Perhaps.

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