Failing Intelligence

We’re humbled—we’re also scared—by the power of chatbots like GPT-4 to do pretty much everything that word people have ever done, but faster and maybe more to the point. The twist in this conversation is that our guests are professional humanists, guardians, and teachers of the hard-earned old wisdom of books, not machines. And the double twist that they want to argue is that the enemy here is not evil AI: it’s us, who have enfeebled the old culture to a vanishing point in the practice of our politics, our media, our most expensive elite universities.

Robert Pogue Harrison and Ana Ilievska.

Robert Pogue Harrison is our Dante scholar at Stanford, our professional humanist, and a West Coast friend in smart podcasting. We asked ChatGPT about his voice, and we got the instant answer that his voice “has a certain mellowness and introspection” that go with his “keen ear for language and a precise, articulate way of expressing his ideas.” He’s joined by Ana Ilievska, initials A.I. She is Robert’s colleague from Europe in humanistic studies at Stanford. Recently, in the podcast Entitled Opinions, they both defended AI as a wake-up call, maybe in the nick of time, to rescue humanity, human stewardship, human culture from its corrupted condition. They both said they expect their students to use AI and to learn from it.

Guest List
Robert Pogue Harrison
Professor of French and Italian at Stanford.
Ana Ilievska
Lecturer in French and Italian at Stanford.

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