les cadavres exquis boiront le vin nouveau - Patterns that don't exist

les what?

les cadavres exquis boiront le vin nouveau - Patterns that don't exist
Photo by Google DeepMind / Unsplash

A couple of poets gathered around (André Breton and Paul Éluard among them) and tried to create a unique sentence that sounded profound.

The sentence would be constructed in a particular set of order for the words(in English):
1st word - adjective
2nd word - substantive
3rd word - verb
4th word - adjective
5th word - substantive

Each of the five poets would pick one word. The end sentence was:

"les cadavres exquis boiront le vin nouveau"

Or in English: The delicate corpses will drink the new wine.

Verbalism and the Age of AI

There has been a growing interest in AI since ChatGPT was released. Beforehand, people who were "AI-bros" would generally be PhDs, mathematicians, statisticians, etc. But now everyone can use ChatGPT to generate text, MidJourney to generate images and many more projects are coming up. And people who don't have a technical background are astounded by what AI tools can do but don't understand their limitations.

So this has sparked a discussion on "Do these AI creations have meaning in and of themselves?". Due to my story above I bet you think you already know my answer to that.

Well, the answer is quite weird, because it's not a clear NO.

Some of it can be meaningful, or else I wouldn't be using these AI tools to help me code, summarize emails and generate possibilities for my fanfic stories(yeah I do those too when I'm bored).

Let's start by defining what Verbalism is.

From the Merriam-Webster:

words used as if they were more important than the realities they represent

Or even:

a wordy expression of little meaning

So verbalism is the equivalent of seeing faces on the moon or assigning meaning to words just because you "think" that sentence has meaning.

I told the story about the French poets just to illustrate how sentences can be constructed without any meaning behind them, and yet they can sound profound(in fact that was what the poets tried to show as well).

This same effect occurs in several other places, anywhere you think there is a real pattern but there isn't really(it's just your human brain messing with ya).

I wrote about those at: Correlation is Not Causation.

So what's the answer?

As long as the information you get from an AI is useful to the task at hand, then it is meaningful, but it is ultimately up to you to test the information and use it to see if it works or not. The AI won't be able to test it for you (at least not yet).

Keep humaning folks!

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