Updated: May 26
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a potential death knell for creators.
Why would there be any value in original composition when AI can author stories, create images and devise songs?
Will we reach the point where there is no longer a premium on thought-provoking content that is actually produced by a human being?
We will find out the answers over the next decade, if not sooner.
As I have interviewed creators, many of them still believe that there will be a market for their offerings.
However, the onset of AI is one of the biggest threats to their livelihood in a generation, if not more.
One thing I know with certainty - everything you read and hear from me is from my own brain. There is no AI anywhere in what I produce.
Not to say that my brain is anything special; in fact, I am discovering quite the opposite.
I have never felt more intellectually humbled in my life than recently.
Earlier this year, I enrolled in an ancient philosophy course from the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera.
From the works of the first pre-Socratic thinkers to Plato, the course traces the origins of philosophy in the Western tradition in the thinkers of Ancient Greece.
The course description continues:
We begin with the Presocratic natural philosophers who were active in Ionia in the 6th century BCE and are also credited with being the first scientists. Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximines made bold proposals about the ultimate constituents of reality, while Heraclitus insisted that there is an underlying order to the changing world. Parmenides of Elea formulated a powerful objection to all these proposals, while later Greek theorists (such as Anaxagoras and the atomist Democritus) attempted to answer that objection. In fifth-century Athens, Socrates insisted on the importance of the fundamental ethical question—“How shall I live?”—and his pupil, Plato, and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, developed elaborate philosophical systems to explain the nature of reality, knowledge, and human happiness. After the death of Aristotle, in the Hellenistic period, Epicureans and Stoics developed and transformed that earlier tradition. We will study the major doctrines of all these thinkers. Part I will cover Plato and his predecessors. Part II will cover Aristotle and his successors.
I am halfway through the semester, and I find much of it incomprehensible.
One idea I can contemplate is the knowledge of knowing that I do not know, a thought which Socrates expounded upon at his capital trial in Athens.
By way of background, a 70-year old Socrates was put on trial for being a godless corrupter of youth, and ultimately he was sentenced to death.
In court, Socrates presented his own defense, which Plato quoted in his book, Apology.
In the following passage, Socrates is sharing a story from his life, specifically about the oracle at Delphi stating there was no man wiser than Socrates.
In order to prove the oracle wrong, Socrates sought to find someone wiser than himself.
Here is a passage from Socrates’ self-defense From Plato’s Apology
I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. I should say to him, "Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you said that I was the wisest." Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed to him - his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination - and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and I went and tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is - for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows.
Socrates continues by remarking in Apology:
I neither know nor think that I know.
Socrates, I feel you, my man!
Yet I wish to learn, and maybe the thirst for knowledge is what sustains me.
Interestingly, Socrates also interviewed writers and poets and found that they are not wise, but rather divine:
That showed me in an instant that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them.
So if in my writing, I am doing something creative or divine, then I am satisfied, in the same way that I am satisfied with the knowledge that I know next to nothing about this world in which we live.
But I am trying every day to improve my understanding.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Please comment below.