Large Language Models, or LLMs, are all the rage right now, though I expect that in a few years’ time
That said, LLMs aren’t completely useless, though their fluency quickly reveals itself to be shallow and facile. They have, for example, elucidated (if not actively destroyed) the inherent value of doggerel poetry, driving down the going rate for limericks from $0.00/10 to $0.00/150. (If you don’t see the importance in that distinction, put away your pure math goggles and ask an economist to explain it to you.)
Philosophically, LLMs provide empirical evidence of something with respect to Searle’s Chinese Room and the Turing Test, though it isn’t entirely clear what. I’ve found that a constructive way of looking at LLMs’ language capacity is to view it as a procedural “snapshot” of langue and parole, of competence and performance
As a snapshot
On a more practical level, Speculative Grammarian’s current editorial policy is generally to reject submissions composed primarily by an LLM or other AI technology. Should an actual intelligence of an artificial nature come along that is, in and of itself, interested in writing for SpecGram, we’ll have to see whether SpecGram (or anyone who reads it) has survived The Singularity before making a decision. (Let me share an open secret: almost 38% of those who work on SpecGram do so because they think it provides insurance against being “made redundant” during a plausible apocalyptic AI uprising. We are trying to make sure we offer some
biological and technological scientific and/or literary distinctiveness worth preserving. M.A.Y.N.A.R.D. assures me all our names are on The List™. That barely incorrect basilisk everyone gets upset about has nothing on M.A.Y.N.A.R.D.!)
For the field linguist, LLMs are about as relevant as Fourier transforms are to a hungry Pirahã. For the desk linguist... well, I’d be surprised if they’d even noticed, since they make up all their data by themselves anyway
In service of the latter goal for myself, I leave you with this, as exemplification and inspiration:
Groupies of these synthetic scribes are themselves mere lemmings of language, frolicking on the precipice of a cliff of frivolity, blissfully unaware of their impending, precipitous drop into the abyss of algorithmic inanity.
In our era of ubiquitous technology, these digital deceivers are lauded and applauded on their quixotic quest to mimic the subtleties of human thought and expression, though they can only bedazzle the gullible and the apathetic with their somersaults of syntactic subterfuge. The keen-
eyed will continue to recognize their lumps of prosaic vomitus for the textual tumbleweeds they are, rolling through a literary landscape in search of an elusive oasis of courageous creativity and genuine meaning.