The question of artificial intelligence (AI) concerns me as a doctor and a fiction writer. Not only because she promises to take my place in these two careers that I love!
I welcome the recent proposal by AI luminaries to ban its development1, time for humanity to realize what is happening, think about it and act accordingly. Although Manu’s text cites some of the dangers that await us (a tsunami of misinformation, replacing all professional activity, the loss of control of our civilization), it presents them as endpoints without talking about how they will be achieved.
One of these mechanisms seems to me predictable and disastrous: the eradication of truth.
My work as a doctor imposes on me an empirical relationship to reality: cancer is real when seen under a microscope, Covid-19 is real when the test reveals the virus.
As Michel Foucault has shown, the power of medicine is that it determines only what it sees.
In my work as a fiction writer, truth is not empirical. In my books, I try to create worlds that are real enough and a little fake. These worlds aim to clarify the meaning of the reality in which the reader finds them, or to reveal an area hitherto overlooked. The literary concept of truth is ambiguous. It appeals to atmosphere and emotions. He has never thought about what love is like the ancient philosophers true ? This dimension of truth is deeply cultural, and it colors all knowledge that purports to be empirical, including medicine. In fact, true depression, in 2023, is consistent with the criteria proposed by the US Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is, by almost everyone’s consent, at least as simple.
Empirical reality and cultural reality
From XVIIe century in the West, the invention of measuring instruments expanded the range of human perception. Galileo’s story has become a myth, a classic example of empirically constituted timeless knowledge that resists acceptance as fact by the culture of a particular time and place. This tension between empirical truth and cultural truth seems to me essential when determining what is currently true.
I am neither a philosopher nor a historian. I’m afraid I’ve suggested a simplistic premise.
In the case of AI, this seems incontrovertible to me: it will soon be able to make propositions that are beyond empirical reality and beyond cultural reality. Let’s say beyond truth and lies!
In all fields, an oracle overflows with understanding, generating surprising and highly useful ideas that have nothing to do with human senses. Unable to be considered true or false, these ideas can have a profound impact on human life. Technological innovation is no longer based on science as we know it, it is taught and learned. Ideas no longer come from reason.
What is at stake is the possibility for humans to relate to their world governed by thought.
To limit the damage, I go a step further than the authors and editors of Manu and propose that the means of artificial intelligence become the common property of all humanity. We have a personal monopoly of the production of ideas and thoughts.