Critically Thinking about Artificial Intelligence: The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY…

What’s going on in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) area, will have profound societal consequences. Some (of many) questions are: Will AI be a societal net benefit? Will we be able to identify and avoid the worst AI negative aspects? Etc.

This is the first of my four-part series about AI, where we will try to answer those questions. Part 2 [the Bad], Part 3 [the Ugly], and Part 4 [Takeaways] will be posted soon.

Let’s use ChatGPT as an example of AI. I asked it a few questions about topics where I have expertise. The answers were quite interesting, and revealing. Let’s start our AI Critical Thinking critique by looking at some AI benefits.

The first positive is that this is being done for free. Excellent.

The second most noticeable part is that intelligible answers about technical matters appear in a few seconds. That is very impressive.

A third benefit is that they give you the option (clicking on a button) to have the question answered again, with some differences.

A fourth good thing is that you (the human) can give the answer a thumbs up or down. When you say down, they ask for a brief explanation. Hopefully, they are using that feedback to produce more accurate AI.

But are the answers THOROUGH and ACCURATE?

I’ll ask it three questions and then look closely at the answers…

Question #1: Is it important to teach the Scientific Method in K-12?

The AI Answer (verbatim):

Yes, it is important to teach the Scientific Method in K-12 education. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills: Teaching the Scientific Method helps develop critical thinking skills. It encourages students to ask questions, make observations, analyze data, and draw evidence-based conclusions. These skills are crucial for problem-solving, decision-making, and navigating the complexities of the modern world.
  2. Understanding the nature of science: The Scientific Method provides students with an understanding of how scientific knowledge is generated, evaluated, and refined. It teaches them that science is a process of inquiry, evidence-based reasoning, and continuous exploration. By learning about the Scientific Method, students gain insight into the nature of scientific knowledge and the principles of scientific thinking.
  3. Promoting curiosity and inquiry: Science is driven by curiosity and the desire to explore and understand the natural world. Teaching the Scientific Method nurtures students’ natural curiosity, encourages them to ask questions, and fosters a spirit of inquiry. It instills a sense of wonder and promotes a lifelong interest in learning and discovery.
  4. Developing research skills: The Scientific Method introduces students to the process of conducting research. They learn how to develop research questions, design experiments, gather and analyze data, and communicate their findings. These research skills are valuable not only in science but also in other academic disciplines and future careers.
  5. Building scientific literacy: Scientific literacy is essential in today’s world, where scientific advancements shape various aspects of society. Teaching the Scientific Method helps develop scientific literacy by equipping students with the tools to critically evaluate scientific claims, understand the scientific process, and make informed decisions. It prepares them to engage with scientific information and participate in public discourse on scientific matters.
  6. Fostering a growth mindset: The Scientific Method encourages an iterative and open-minded approach to learning. Students learn that failure and unexpected results are part of the scientific process. They develop resilience, learn from mistakes, and refine their hypotheses and experiments based on new information. This fosters a growth mindset, where students embrace challenges, persevere through setbacks, and see failure as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Teaching the Scientific Method in K-12 education provides a foundation for scientific thinking, inquiry, and problem-solving skills. It prepares students to think critically, evaluate evidence, and engage with scientific concepts throughout their lives. Moreover, it cultivates a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the role of science in society.

That is a well-phrased, accurate, detailed answer. I would not say that any of the answers given above were wrong, but I have two quibbles:

a) In AI’s attempt to impress us, some of their answer is too verbose. For example, I don’t see much difference between #2 and #5. IMO they should be combined.

b) they missed an opportunity to mention that the Scientific Method is a powerful tool in rooting out bad actors (e.g., lobbyists) promoting self-serving ideas.

c) An exceptionally important aspect of the Scientific Method is that it is beneficial WAY more than just in Science. It is literally a generic problem-solving process that is applicable for many of life’s challenges. Although the AI answer alluded to some of that, IMO it should have specifically stated that.

AI Score on Question #1 = 95%.

I’ll report on what happened with my next two questions in a few days, then do a takeaway summary.

Here are other materials by this scientist that you might find interesting:

Check out the Archives of this Critical Thinking substack.

WiseEnergy.orgdiscusses the Science (or lack thereof) behind our energy options.

C19Science.infocovers the lack of genuine Science behind our COVID-19 policies.

Election-Integrity.infomultiple major reports on the election integrity issue.

Media Balance Newsletter: a free, twice-a-month newsletter that covers what the mainstream media does not do, on issues from COVID to climate, elections to education, renewables to religion, etc. Here are the Newsletter’s 2023 Archives. Send me an email to get your free copy. When emailing me, please make sure to include your full name and the state where you live. (Of course, you can cancel the Media Balance Newsletter at any time – but why would you?

©2023. John Droz, Jr. All rights reserved.

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