My son the tech whiz recently shared some amazing results from ChatGPT. He had asked it to compare the philosophies of Plato and Spinoza–which it did brilliantly, instantaneously, and in accessible language. It began:
Plato and Spinoza, both influential philosophers in their respective eras, held distinctly different worldviews. While their ideas do share some overlap, particularly in their quest for understanding the nature of reality, they differ in the specifics. Let’s examine their primary differences:
It then compared the two on the bases of dualism vs. monism, knowledge and truth, ethics and virtue and the role of God.
It was impressive, to say the least.
My son then asked it to compare Plato and Spinoza’s approaches to Buddhism, and again, the response was what a thoughtful and articulate philosophy professor might have written–but probably not in under four minutes.
Then he asked which approach would have been most likely to appeal to Einstein. Once again, the response was based on scholarly evidence, clearly written and organized–and instantaneous. It was also lengthy, but the beginning gives a taste of the language and use of data:
Albert Einstein, a renowned physicist known for his theory of relativity and contributions to quantum mechanics, held views that resonate most with Spinoza’s worldview. Einstein’s philosophical and religious views were strongly influenced by Spinoza’s pantheistic approach, which equates God with Nature or the single substance that encompasses all existence.
Einstein openly expressed his admiration for Spinoza’s ideas. He was particularly drawn to the idea that God and the universe are essentially identical, and that God is not a personal or transcendent being but rather the infinite, eternal, and necessary substance that constitutes all things. This pantheistic view aligns with Einstein’s understanding of the natural world and the principles of physics. He found the idea of a personal God who intervenes in human affairs to be incompatible with the rational order of the universe.
Einstein appreciated Spinoza’s emphasis on reason, experience, and the objective nature of truth. He believed in a deterministic universe, which is in line with Spinoza’s view that everything unfolds according to the rational order of Nature. Moreover, Einstein’s focus on the underlying harmony and unity of the universe aligns with Spinoza’s monistic approach, which posits that everything is part of one substance.
While my son and I were discussing the absolutely mind-blowing abilities of this new technology, I asked him to ask ChatGPT a rather more pedestrian question: “Are young people today more politically engaged than young people 30 years ago? Include any statistical indicators (for example, voter turnout).
(My question was prompted by Lester’s predictable, stubborn dismissal of any suggestion that young people today might be more politically engaged or less self-involved than he is convinced they are.)
That response was also lengthy, but here are the relevant portions:
The pressing issues facing today’s youth, such as climate change, economic inequality, and social justice, have motivated many to become more politically engaged. These issues have spurred activism and participation in protests, which can be seen as an indicator of increased political engagement.
There are several statistical indicators that can be used to measure political engagement, including voter turnout, political party membership, and involvement in political organizations. However, these indicators may not provide a complete picture of political engagement, as they often focus on formal political participation and may not capture informal engagement, such as activism or online discussions.
Voter Turnout: Voter turnout among young people has historically been lower than older age groups. However, recent elections in various countries have shown an increase in youth voter turnout. For example, in the 2018 US midterm elections, voter turnout among 18-29-year-olds increased to 36% from 20% in the 2014 midterms, according to the United States Census Bureau. Similarly, the 2020 US Presidential election saw a significant increase in youth voter turnout.
Political Party Membership: Although party membership has declined overall in many Western countries, some parties have reported an increase in young members. For example, in the UK, the Labour Party saw a surge in youth membership in 2015-2017 under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Involvement in Political Organizations: Young people today are often engaged in various political organizations or advocacy groups, such as climate change movements like the Sunrise Movement in the US or Extinction Rebellion in the UK.
While these indicators suggest an increase in political engagement among young people, it is essential to keep in mind that these trends can vary depending on the political climate and specific issues driving engagement. Additionally, increased political engagement does not always translate into increased political influence, as young people may still face barriers in having their voices heard or making an impact on policy decisions.
The entire response took three minutes.
It’s possible that humans are no longer necessary….