Noyce Conference Room
  US Mountain Time
Alison Gopnik (University of California, Berkeley)

Our campus is closed to the public for this event.

Imitation vs Innovation: Large Language and Image Models as Cultural Technologies

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Abstract: It’s natural to ask whether large language models like LaMDA or GPT-3 are intelligent agents. But I argue that this is the wrong question.  Intelligence and agency are the wrong categories for understanding them. Instead, these AI systems are what we might call cultural technologies, like writing, print, libraries, internet search engines or even language itself. They are new techniques for passing on information from one group of people to another. Cultural technologies aren’t like intelligent humans, but they are essential for human intelligence. Many animals can transmit some information from one individual or one generation to another, but no animal does it as much as we do or accumulates as much information over time. New technologies that make cultural transmission easier and more effective have been among the greatest engines of human progress, but they have also led to negative as well as positive social consequences. Moreover, while cultural technologies allow transmission of existing information cultural evolution also depends on innovation, explorartion and causal learning. I will present results from a novel environment showing that young children outperform even SOTA LLM’sand RL agents in an exploratory  causal learning task.


Research Collaboration
SFI Host: 
Melanie Mitchell