According to AI, what is the one thing that everyone should know? Well, no need to wonder because I already asked the question. And I was impressed by the answer:
“[We should know] that we are all connected and that our actions have an impact on others and the world around us. It’s important to have empathy and compassion towards others, to treat everyone with kindness and respect, and to always strive to make the world a better place.”
More specifically, that message to humanity was generated by the popular artificial intelligence (AI) program known as ChatGPT. Using a machine learning algorithm, ChatGPT is able to engage in natural sounding conversations as it responds to our messages. ChatGPT has become a huge sensation as 100 million people have already flocked to chat with the AI program.
AI generated creative works, though, haven’t been without controversy as we grapple with questions about how this new technology will impact our society. The ethics of AI goes beyond the scope of this article, though, it’s worth pointing out that, like many technologies, AI has potential for both good and bad. And I have to admit that even though AI programs, like ChatGPT, might one day replace my job as a writer, I’m still kind of excited about it.
Let’s get back to the words of wisdom that ChatGPT shared with us. Is it any wonder that AI would respond in such a profound way? It’s been trained with an extensive database of human-produced language, providing the opportunity to eves drop on our thoughts and values. So, it seems as though the chatbot is really just spitting back knowledge that it learned from examining what matters to us.
While stated in less eloquent prose, ChatGPT’s message is reminiscent of a quote from the character, Somni-451, from the book/movie, Cloud Atlas:
“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
It’s easy to feel small and like nothing we do really matters. And perhaps it’s even comforting to believe ourselves to be so insignificant. If we were truly unable to make a difference, we would also be free from the weight of responsibilities toward one another. And on some level, wouldn’t that be a relief?
But ChatGPT and Somni-451 are both expressing a simple truth-we can’t avoid impacting one another, both for better and for worse.
We live in an interconnected world, and the choices we make go beyond our own lives. So, what we do, or even what we don’t do, has consequences for others. This includes anyone from our closest loved ones to strangers we’ve never met. We also make decisions that affect not only humans but also other species and even the broader ecosystem.
Lacking consciousness, ChatGPT has no emotions. So while it might have the intelligence to acknowledge the importance of empathy, the AI program can’t actually experience it. As members of a highly social and cooperative species of animal, though, it’s encoded within our DNA to feel lots of empathy. So, we can not only comprehend that we are impacting one another but also care about it.
As empathetic creatures, it’s also self-serving to be kind. When we hurt one another, we are often overcome with guilt as we can take on the perspective of others and imagine how they are feeling. On the other hand, we can share in basking in another’s joy and feel proud of our character when we contribute to their sense of wellbeing. Expressing kindness even alters our own bodies by causing the production of feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. So, being kind actually makes us feel better on a physiological level. Offering kindness really is a win-win scenario that enriches everyone.
As the saying goes, “we are only human,” which unfortunately means that we are also flawed. Sometimes we make choices that aren’t ideal for others or even ourselves. So, we shouldn’t get bogged down by the pressure to get everything right or beat ourselves up when we fail to be something we can’t be -perfect. Even ChatGPT acknowledged that the best we can do is to “strive to make the world a better place.” In other words, we can just try our best.
Acknowledging that there is no way to opt out of impacting each other, we simply have to ask ourselves: What kind of effect do I want to have on the experiences of others? Our lives and the decisions we make are more consequential than we might think. And when we follow the advice of ChatGPT, by choosing to extend kindness, we have the power to foster a more beautiful and loving world.
Also by Lauren: Are You Bendy? What That Means For Your Physical & Mental Health
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Photos: Lauren Wesp; Dirk Rabe via Pixabay