GPT-4 And The Journey Towards Artificial Cognition

Aligning AI with Key Aspects of Human Thought.

GPT Summary: In the remarkable panorama of AI development, the emergence of large-scale generative language models such as GPT-4 stands as a significant milestone. These digital prodigies exhibit intriguing capacities in understanding and generating language, but a nagging question lingers — do they genuinely ‘think’ as humans do? While GPT-4 displays commendable problem-solving skills, it does not grasp problems as we do but instead predicts responses based on data patterns. Its capability for planning or abstract thought is constrained, and it doesn’t generate new ideas but rather creatively recombines previously seen information. Despite learning from vast amounts of text during training, it lacks the continuous, adaptive learning characteristic of human cognition. With no self-awareness or consciousness, GPT-4’s functioning remains rooted in pattern recognition and statistical prediction. Yet, its ability to craft compelling narratives, suggest innovative solutions, and engage in human-like dialogue is a captivating testament to artificial ‘intelligence’ and a nudge for us to reassess our understanding of intelligence, creativity, and the possibility of machine ‘consciousness’. The path towards artificial cognition, while laden with challenges, is being paved with invaluable insights offered by these models, pushing us to continually redefine our benchmarks for ‘thinking’.

The Thinker, Auguste Rodin’s iconic sculpture, captures the essence of human introspection and the profound depths of cognitive processing. The figure, hunched in contemplation, symbolizes the human capacity for abstract thought, reason, and complex ideation. Today, as we stand on the brink of a new era in artificial intelligence, Rodin’s masterpiece takes on new significance. It invites us to reflect on our understanding of ‘thinking’ and challenges us to question the extent to which these new AI models can truly mirror the intricate process of human cognition.

The developments in artificial intelligence have been swift and groundbreaking. The transition from rule-based AI to machine learning, and now to deep learning, has shaped a new landscape for AI research and applications. A standout development in this regard are large-scale, generative language models like GPT-4. These amazing ‘thinking machines’ have demonstrated impressive capabilities in language understanding and generation. And most would agree, it’s only the beginning.

However, a salient question persists: does GPT-4 truly ‘think’ or exhibit mental capacity akin to human cognition? If we consider key aspects of thinking, such as reason, planning, problem solving, abstract thought, complex ideation, and learning, we can evaluate GPT-4’s alignment with these cognitive hallmarks. Let’s take a closer look and begin to map out the where are and where we might be going and give you something to think about.

Reason and Problem Solving

GPT-4 can exhibit problem-solving skills and some level of reasoning. For example, when presented with a logical problem, the model can generate an appropriate response based on its understanding of the problem’s structure and its extensive training data. However, it’s crucial to note that this process is not akin to human reasoning. The model does not ‘understand’ the problem as humans do; rather, it predicts the most likely response based on patterns in the data it has seen.

Planning and Abstract Thought

GPT-4’s ability to plan or engage in abstract thought is more limited. The model operates on an input-response basis, generating each output based solely on the inputs it has received. It does not form plans, nor does it have a concept of future or past outside the temporal indications in the input text. Abstract thought, which requires a level of self-awareness and internal representation, is currently beyond the scope of GPT-4’s capabilities.

Complex Ideation

Complex ideation, which refers to the process of forming new, original, and complex ideas, is a challenging aspect to measure in GPT-4. The model generates responses based on patterns it has recognized in its training data, so any ‘new’ idea it seems to generate is, in reality, a novel recombination of previously seen information.


In terms of learning, GPT-4’s capabilities are twofold. During its training phase, it ‘learns’ from the large corpus of text data it is trained on, adjusting its internal parameters to predict the next word in a sequence more accurately. However, once training is complete, GPT-4’s learning stops. Unlike humans, who continue to learn and adapt throughout their lives, GPT-4 cannot learn from new information or experiences after its training is complete. The personal engagement with an iterative dialogue might at time feel like a learning process, but it

While GPT-4 exhibits some characteristics associated with human cognition, it is fundamentally different. It lacks self-awareness, consciousness, and the ability to understand or conceptualize the world as humans do. It operates based on pattern recognition and statistical prediction rather than true thought or understanding.

Emerging GPT-4 models are captivating audiences, both consumers and scientists, with their seemingly magical cognitive properties. These sophisticated AI models are exhibiting capabilities that surpass simple pattern recognition, producing creative outputs that have the potential to mimic humor, empathy, and even the nuance of cultural references. They can generate compelling narratives, propose innovative solutions to complex problems, and engage in remarkably human-like dialogue. While they operate purely on computational power and algorithms, the way they can navigate the intricacies of human language and thought is nothing short of fascinating.

It’s a mesmerizing display of artificial ‘intelligence,’ teetering on the edge of what we understand as cognition, that prompts us to redefine our perceptions of intelligence, creativity, and the very possibility of machine ‘consciousness’.

The journey towards artificial cognition is still in its early stages. The path is long, fraught with both technical and ethical challenges. However, models like GPT-4 are critical milestones on this journey, providing valuable insights into the capabilities and limitations of current AI technologies, and informing the next steps towards creating AI that can truly ‘think’.

Teetering on the edge maybe a perfect description. And defining the actual participants in this dance of instability may be the most important question to be both asked and answered.