The AI/ChatGPT Paradigm Shift

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The AI/ChatGPT Paradigm Shift
Bart Binning, Ed. D.

The concept of paradigm shifts, popularized by philosopher Thomas Kuhn, refers to profound changes in scientific or societal frameworks that fundamentally alter our understanding of reality.  Kuhn first presented his concept of paradigms in his 1962 seminal book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”.  The significance of a shift in a paradigm can be explained through examining assumptions of predictions. In its simplest form, the cause-and-effect relationships of what happened in the past is a good predictor of what will happen in the future. In these cases, rules-of- thumb can then be used to provide short-cuts in predicting the future, based on current events.  However, when a paradigm has shifted those assumed relationships between cause and effect are no longer necessarily valid – in the extreme, there are no longer any experts and experiences are no longer of predictive value. 

Over the centuries, humanity has experienced several paradigm shifts, with the most recent one being generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT. The time between shifts in the various paradigms has become shorter as the centuries have passed, resulting in a shorter time for society to adjust to these new changes. Let’s take a closer look at the history of paradigm shifts, including how the Rotary 4-Way Test has played a role in shaping our evolving understanding of the world.

In the pre-modern era, the dominant paradigm was based on religious beliefs and authority. The Church held an unquestioned position as the source of truth, and scientific inquiry was often stifled by dogma. However, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment marked the beginning of a paradigm shift, as thinkers and philosophers emphasized the importance of reason, observation, and evidence-based inquiry.

During the Industrial Revolution, the paradigm shifted again, as society embraced mechanization, mass production, and scientific advancements. The scientific method became the cornerstone of knowledge acquisition, and empirical evidence gained prominence over religious or philosophical doctrines. As societies rapidly industrialized, the emphasis was on efficiency, productivity, and economic growth.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were paradigm shifts in manufacturing and transportation as we shifted from manual manufacturing to mechanization/mass production, and from horse and buggy to planes, trains, and automobiles. In the 20th century, another paradigm shift occurred with the advent of information technology and the digital revolution. The development of computers and the internet transformed communication, commerce, and access to information. We have gone from the consumers of information to the consumers of digests of knowledge summaries.  (The amount of information the average 15th century peasant needed to know in a lifetime is about equal to todays Sunday edition of the New York Times). In the late 20th and early 21st centuries AI emerged as a new field of study, and with advancements in machine learning, natural language processing, and data analytics, AI systems became capable of complex tasks previously thought to be exclusive to human intelligence.

The current paradigm shift generated by AI and ChatGPT is marked by the increasing integration of AI into our daily lives. ChatGPT 3.0 (publicly introduced November 30, 2022), is an example of advanced AI language models, has revolutionized the way we interact with technology and information. It has the potential to transform industries such as customer service, content creation, and decision-making processes in various fields.  My personal conclusion is that ChatGPT represents the most significant of the paradigm shifts, to date.

The Rotary 4-Way Test, a guiding ethical framework promoted by the Rotary International, has played a role in shaping this paradigm shift. The test, which asks four questions: “Is it the truth?”, “Is it fair to all concerned?”, “Will it build goodwill and better friendships?”, and “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”, serves as a moral compass in navigating the ethical implications of AI and ChatGPT.

As AI and ChatGPT become more sophisticated and pervasive, concerns about privacy, bias, accountability, and the impact on the labor market arise. The Rotary 4-Way Test can help guide decision-makers in ensuring that AI is developed and deployed in a manner that aligns with ethical principles, promotes fairness, fosters goodwill, and benefits all stakeholders.

The comic book genius Stan Lee said it differently as a closing narration in the 1962 Amazing Fantasy #15, and was later attributed to Uncle Ben as advice to the young Peter Parker (Spider Man) “With great power comes great responsibility.”  (Others suggest the quote is from the 17th century philosopher, Voltaire.)

In conclusion, the history of paradigm shifts has been characterized by shifts in beliefs, methodologies, and technologies that have reshaped our understanding of the world. The current paradigm shift generated by AI and ChatGPT presents both opportunities and challenges, and ethical considerations, as embodied by the Rotary 4-Way Test, will play a crucial role in navigating this new frontier of technological advancement.

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Author Notes: The previous paragraphs were largely created by ChatGPT in answering the question:

“Write a short history of paradigm shifts culminating in the current apparent paradigm shift generated by ai & chatgpt, incorporating the Rotary 4-way test into the discussion”

The above question largely produced the above answer.  There were three iterative modifications of the questions before I was largely satisfied with the result – the sentences in italics represent my personal additions to the ChatGPT generated tome.

When I was teaching at UCO in the 1990’s, I told my students that they will never not be learning something new – that by the time they retire, they will have participated in at least six different professions, three of which have not yet been invented.  With this new AI paradigm shift, we can anticipate it creation of one if not two new professions.  The first would be the creation of a new profession (not government regulation), on par with accounting, legal, and medical professions that would be the guardians of the AI knowledge base and how it is expanded.  The second new profession would be those who become expert at learning the art/skill of asking the questions that produce the desired results.

The interesting thing to note in the construction of this tome… ChatGPT was used to generate a concise summary of the topic about which I wished to write, but the construction of the question needed to be tweaked three times to provide something close to the desired result.  My personal content knowledge, acquired through decades of experience (sentences in italics), was used to elaborate the additional points I felt were important to communicate.

2 Comments for : The AI/ChatGPT Paradigm Shift
    • Sam Hammons
    • May 1, 2023

    Thanks Bart. Fascinating. Frightening.

    • Joel Alberts
    • May 1, 2023

    Yes, Thanks Bart! Very interesting and Frightening!

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