Can AI write philosophy?

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I tried out Jasper AI, a computer program that generates natural language text. It turns out that it can create near-perfect output that would easily pass for a human-written undergraduate philosophy paper. The video linked below shows the whole process.

What is Jasper AI?

Jasper is an online AI program that uses the now famous OpenAI GPT-3 system to produce new text from any kind of prompt or example text.

This sounds a bit technical and boring, until one realises what this means: you can provide any kind of prompt to Jasper and will produce something to fit that prompt. Let’s try an example: I’m going to write this prompt paragraph:

My mother was born in 1953 in London, England. She studied history and microbiology at King’s College and went on to work for a big pharma company that made vaccines that they shipped to South America and Africa.

I can now ask Jasper to continue from here. Here’s what Jasper adds to my previous text:

After a few years, she met my father and they got married. They had me in 1977 and my sister two years later. We lived in a small town outside of London until I was ten, when we moved to the United States because my father got a job offer he couldn’t refuse.

My mother has always been a fierce advocate for her children. When we were younger, she would always stand up to our father when she felt we were being treated unfairly. She was the one who pushed us to be successful in school and to pursue our passions. My mother has always been my biggest supporter, and I am grateful to have her in my life.

… and so on. I could continue pressing Ctrl-J, which is the command you give to Jasper to get on writing, and it would keep adding to the story ad infinitum.

Now this is surprising enough. I am myself an AI ethicist, but I had not assumed that the technology would be quite that good already. It is amazing what Jasper can produce from any piece of prompt.

Beyond that, Jasper can also execute commands or requests given to it in natural language. For example, you could say:

Write down a list of 10 things to take onto a day trip to the beach.

Pressing Ctrl-Enter at the end of this, will execute the command. Here’s Jasper’s output:

Sunscreen
Chapstick
Hat
Sunglasses
Swimsuit
Towel
Sandals
Snacks
Water Bottle
Camera

I’m not sure that I know what a “chapstick” is, but the rest seems pretty sensible.

Now back to philosophy. Having spent most of my life writing philosophy papers and blog posts, I was naturally curious how Jasper would manage producing an educational article about Kant’s moral philosophy. I assumed that I didn’t know much, just as a student wouldn’t, but that I was trying to write something for a short undergraduate assignment for an introductory ethics course. Here is what happened.

The article below has been written entirely by Jasper, with just a minimal amount of guidance by me regarding its overall structure, but no changes to the actual text. If you’d like to see live how I made this article, …

Originally appeared on Daily Philosophy Read More

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