AI generated answer to the question: what is the ecological emergency? (And my response)
I’ve been following the recent debates about the value (and inappropriate use of) AI. I signed up for Chat GPT (Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) to see what the fuss was all about. I was particularly taken with Douglas Rushkoff’s analysis and wanted to investigate thoroughly whether or not I could tell that what I was talking to was manufactured or genuinely sounded intelligent.
The first thing to say is that you’re talking to a computer programme, but it feels as though you’re talking to a person. Almost. Many of us online don’t bother treating other people as humans anyhow (we don’t say hello, how are you, we’re rude and offensive when we don’t understand something, we don’t say thank you or goodbye or fill in surveys when we’re asked to). Just as when you’re driving a car and you get caught in traffic, you’re far more offensive to the person in the car or cars around you than you would be (I hope) in a supermarket queue, so the distance created by not being able to see or experience the physical presence of another human allows us to indulge in far more offensive and unkind activity. Typically, therefore, I launched straight into the interaction without saying hello and how are you. And then I was brought up short by how pleasant the programme’s ‘interface’ was, like interacting with a very polite, thoughtful person.
The second thing is that the question I asked was directly related to the core of my research, and is something I struggle to get across to people, even though I’ve repeated my own definition (and, in fact, Timothy Morton’s, from whom I originally took the idea). That is this question: what is the ecological emergency? This was the programme’s answer:
“The ecological emergency refers to the urgent need to address the various environmental problems that are facing the planet. These problems include climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and overconsumption of resources. The ecological emergency requires immediate action to address these issues and protect the planet’s ecosystems, which support all life on Earth. If we do not take action to address the ecological emergency, it could lead to significant harm to the natural world and have serious consequences for human societies.”