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The role of artificial intelligence on question construction mechanisms.

The mechanic's hammer and generative artificial intelligence

Artificial "Intelligences" (AIs) have always attracted me for the fascination with which they were cloaked thanks to Hollywood films. 2001 A Space Odyssey, Ex Machina are films that I watch over and over again, always discovering new food for thought. In recent years, the professional contribution from which I have benefited thanks to the colleagues with whom I have been lucky enough to work and with whom today I have a structured vision (at least I think it is) of the technological capabilities and impacts on people's professional and personal daily lives.

The points for reflection that have followed one another over time have been noted in my articles to generate a comparison that does not stop at the state of the art of research which requires years to understand the nature of what is happening through the use of AI.

For personal convenience, I summarize the path traced by the articles I wrote.

Alien "intelligences"

Some time ago, in this article, I wrote down my reflections on the concept of intelligence. I did it because I think that intelligence is an unknown creature despite being talked about every day. Among the "intelligences" that populate our world and which I talk about in the article there are also the newborn artificial "intelligences" (AI) which are becoming an increasingly widespread tool both in the professional and consumer fields due to their notable generative capabilities and simplicity with which you can interact with them.

Bias and hallucinations of AI

History has taught us that, like any great tool, artificial intelligence also brings with it new and unexpected problems which, as written in this article, in the case of AI, the major problems are linked to the presence of bias which I consider inevitable and existing even where its presence is excluded. The unexpected nature of AI problems, as exposed in this article co-written with my friend Remco Foppen, is also manifesting itself in the form of hallucinations which, far from being an exclusive human prerogative, has become the worry of those who work with the latest generation LLM systems because, as happens with men, even artificial hallucinations are increasingly consistent with reality and, therefore, difficult to identify.

Impacts of AI in creative processes

Despite the limitations that AI shows, I find these systems unquestionably useful even where large gray areas can be glimpsed linked to the fact that limits, opportunities, risks and benefits are still unclear. Whatever use is made of it, AI is already changing our way of being and thinking so much so that, as written in this article, I do not exclude the possibility of their effect also appearing on the mechanisms that govern creative processes. Writer's block is easily circumvented if you use an AI and, to those who complain about the lack of originality, I respond by saying that, as in every creation, inspiration is never the final work.

Don't use GPT because customers notice

This article was born from a joke made by a colleague at the end of a project meeting who, in a peremptory tone, said:

“Please do not use ChatGPT to write project documents because there are systems capable of revealing it and we will make a bad impression on the client”.

This joke immediately made me think back to the times of the general mathematics exam when the Professor who held the chair prohibited us from using calculators. As a young university student, I asked myself what was more important between the reasoning that leads to the calculation and the calculation itself. Today, I ask myself what is more important between the mechanism that leads to the essay and the essay.

Innovation and the evils of humanity

The use of productivity support tools has always been viewed with distrust. Bizarre as it may be, criticism of innovation ignores the nature of innovation, so much so that there was a time when even writing was criticized, which Plato, in the Phaedrus, defined as the cause of memory deterioration. No better treatment was given to the calculator, the use of which was opposed because it reduces the ability to carry out calculations in the mind, even very complex ones. Today none of us could do without writing and the use of the calculator has not only been accepted, but encouraged by the Ministry of Education which for decades has allowed its use in mathematics tests at scientific and technological high schools.

The unstoppable pace of change

The change that is triggered by the spread of each new technology is unstoppable. It was so for writing, it was so for photography and it was so for the calculator at the expense of the slide rule. No matter how much we complain, change will become everyday life. This evolutionary cycle forces us to reflect on what we are, how we perceive ourselves and what we want to be.

The importance of the right whys

AI has produced many impacts on human nature and I would like to note one of these in this article. I'm talking about an aspect that I hadn't yet taken into consideration despite it being linked to the ability to develop a concept, or an idea. I have no hesitation in considering this aspect the fuel of every analysis. I'm talking about the ability, not at all innate, to ask structured questions in such a way as to direct the interlocutor towards a concise and clear answer.

The power of well-formulated questions

A well-formulated question is a powerful tool through which you can guide an entire analysis process, allowing you to focus attention on what is really important: defining the objective of the analysis and determining which data are needed. A well-posed question can help identify any limitations or challenges that may arise during analysis, solve complex problems and build relationships. A poorly constructed question creates a dangerous trap whose effects can distance us from our exploration and end up confirming what we already know.

The relationship between the right whys and the work of an AI

The relationship between the ability to ask well-structured questions and the use of an AI is represented by the fact that AIs operate only if a request/question is given to them and the quality of the paper produced by an AI is directly linked to the quality of the question formulated. Similarly to what happens with humans, an incorrectly formulated question can also be misleading for an AI system whose fragilities can emerge through the formulation of questions that make use of specific logical constructs. A correctly structured question allows you to activate an AI on tasks for which it has not been directly trained to operate but for which it is able to formulate reliable answers because they are based on verified data (at least one hopes that they are).

Prompt engineering

Prompt engineering is the field of study in which we try to identify the best technique to choose the most appropriate formats, phrases, words and symbols in the formulation of questions that guide a generative AI to produce relevant and high-quality results. quality. The relationship that links the quality of the question to the relevance of the answer is central in every area of philosophical studies as it is for a correct interaction with an AI.

The balance of curiosity

The importance of prompt engineering leads me to think that, even in times in which knowledge can be achieved through superhuman "intelligences" (this is how the "intelligences" after "move 37" are defined), the value of knowledge remains linked to the fixed deficit between questions and answers. Having more questions than answers means having the key to knowledge since the effective operation of AI, as with that of the human brain, is closely linked to the ability to ask the right questions.

The mechanic's hammer and the originality of the essay

Continuing my reasoning and focusing on the question relating to the originality of the essay, I wonder how your opinion on the quality of this text would change if I told you that it was generated with AI support. Let me explain better by referring to the well-known anecdote of the mechanic's hammering. A guy, after having consulted numerous mechanics and spent a lot of money, goes to a mechanic who asks him to eliminate the annoying squeaking that afflicts the engine of his car. The elderly mechanic, after listening to the unfortunate sound for a few seconds, takes an old hammer and, with a firm blow, solves the problem. For the hammering, he asks for 500 euros. To the customer who did not intend to pay that amount for a hammer blow, the mechanic responded by asking if the customer would be able to do the same. I'll leave the rest of the reasoning to you as you read me. In practice, if I had ever used an AI to generate this text, its instrumental role in the creative/productive path would not be dissimilar to that assumed by the hammer in the hands of the elderly mechanic. For this reason, rather than asking myself whether or not an AI was used to carry out an activity, I prefer to ask myself what degree of mastery of the tool was achieved in its use.

AI, writing and the calculator

I think the use of AI is on par with the use of writing, the calculator and the mechanic's hammer. Their functional value is linked to the ability to make good use of them. Just as no one would ask me whether or not I used a calculator in carrying out my radio engineering tests, I hope that one day I will no longer be asked whether or not I used an AI in the process of drafting my papers because I consider these criticisms to be the result of banal neo-feudal frustrations that dwell in the Pleistocene minds of characters who want to know that they "worked hard" instead of concentrating on the quality of the work produced.

The craving for originality

To the diehards of the originality of the work, the leaders of the ultras of "it is the fruit of my sweat", the scandalized virgins of "no one here copies" I declare that I have left their side to others and without regret cultural in favor of the role of the one who tells you that Santa Claus doesn't exist. Ladies and Gentlemen, most of the professionals I have met in the last 20 years around the dozens of companies in which I have worked produce documents drawing "copiously" from what has already been produced for and/or by others. Get over it, the world is based on 3 simple keyboard keys CTRL, C and V.

Deductions

Having clarified my position regarding the use of AIs and their functional role, it remains to understand how these impact the ability to formulate questions appropriate to the expectations that are nourished on the expected paper. The potential offered by generative AI will lead people to find ways to use them in increasingly broader contexts of daily and working life. This will lead to the development of an ever-increasing ability to formulate structured questions whose nature can only derive from an effort of analysis and abstraction. In essence, as much as it may bother you, in the future no one will write thinking of doing so without the support of an AI because, in addition to sharing what is thought, a text has the purpose of disseminating content for cultural purposes.

Article source: Linkedin Article by Vincenzo Gioia

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Vincenzo Gioia
13/06/2024
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