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Why The Humanities Should Experience A Rebirth Thanks To AI?

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Prominent figures in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have greatly benefited humanity from the Enlightenment through the Industrial Revolution and into the present. Through a thorough investigation of the natural world, individuals such as Norman Borlaug, Jonas Salk, Marie Curie, Alexander Cummings, and numerous more have spared huge numbers of our species from unimaginable pain.

The humanities have, in many ways, declined as our civilization has grown more technologically advanced. In recent years, U.S. universities have reduced the amount of degrees awarded and programs offered; others have closed whole departments. The New Yorker, among other literary and cultural heavyweights, has bemoaned “the end of the English major.”

Given these developments, one might be excused for fearing that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and the high incomes associated with studying it could be the end of the liberal arts as a fulfilling and valuable endeavor for people or our species as a whole. Many contend that this is fortunate because STEM promotes human advancement and the end of pain.

But I would contend that the development of AI makes the humanities more relevant than ever, if not eternally. This isn’t just because science still doesn’t have the answers to age-old philosophical issues like how to live a “good” life or what it means to have a finite existence in a universe that may never end.

If the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (also known as Whorfianism) is even partially true, it implies that language relativity will cause us to live in cultural bubbles apart from one another. Understanding one another is more important than ever, so we shouldn’t wait to use AI translation services until we have taken the time to become familiar with one another’s languages and cultures.
Let’s not view the world exclusively via one perspective.
For instance, the temptation for some people to regard the world as though it speaks and thinks like us, and to hide in American Standard English as a result of flawless translation services, would be a horrible example of leaky abstraction with potentially disastrous results for our culture.

“Every language is an old growth forest of the mind,” as anthropologist Wade Davis once observed. It would be a horrible act of cultural deforestation to view everything through a limited English lens.

In the age of artificial intelligence, we must acknowledge:

The philosophy of ethics must inform how we use technology and provide a response to the question of what is right, not merely what is possible. “It is impossible to derive an ought from an is,” as Scottish philosopher David Hume once said. Countries like Japan believe that AI should be utilized for the public good, yet applications in social grading, sentencing, and police run the risk of transforming the technology into something unsettling.
The logic branch of philosophy must present persuasive and logical arguments rather than only defending ideology, dogma, or, worse, manipulating values with the use of machines or, eventually, a machine.

The Law of Accelerated Returns means that psychology and sociology will increasingly need to combine their understanding of the anthropological effects of technology (think Singularity). According to economic historian Brad Delong, technology facilitated just as much progress between 1870 and the present as it did in the millennium between 6000 BC and 1870 AD. With the introduction and ongoing development of AI, how will humanity prepare itself to absorb millennia’s worth of advancement in a few decades?

the necessity of exploring the ineffable rather than only the literal in literature and art. Sublimely beautiful things often speak more than they actually say. AI and technology are capable of doing this, or soon will be able to, but humans still need to be able to assess value and not just hand off the creation of art to machines. The postmodernists found it difficult to see the use of painting in an era where cameras could capture every detail of a scene. Other art forms are currently struggling with that. Paintings, along with other high art forms like poetry, literature, and illustrations, must endure.

the importance of archival sciences and history in analyzing past errors and drawing lessons from them. A common metaphor used to illustrate humanity’s unavoidable slide toward technologically enhanced self-destruction is the biblical demon Moloch. This concept permeates modern popular culture and is undoubtedly evident in exuberant debates about the ultimate potential of artificial intelligence. Not to be overlooked is the crucial role historians play in identifying and maintaining the truth as opposed to skewed narratives propagated by the powerful and accepted without question by the mindless.

The Battle For Critical Thinking’s Future

Stated differently, Lauren M. E. Goodlad and Samuel Baker write in their highly recommended essay “Now the humanities can disrupt AI” that “the world’s humanists, composition instructors, and creative writers might just be the new MVPs in the struggle for the future of critical thinking, as unloved corporate behemoths try to pass off data-scraping statistical models as AI genies.”

Perhaps there should be a rebirth of the arts, both among technicians and artists. This is not only for the benefit of all of us, but it will also assist others who are seeking a common framework to understand our brave new world and post-postmodern mythology.