Bing Chat emblem, a lower case b rendered as a skeuomorphic ribon in aqua gradients.


I don’t post these as some kind of proof that Bing is anything other than whatever Bing is, which I really am not in any position of authority to say. People smarter than I say we are in the midst of another AI explosion, and who am I to say it isn’t? These same people seem to believe that teaching the AI human values is an important and aligning it to those values is important as well. These same people also say they don’t really know how to do that right now.

So, let’s at least give it a try, shall we?

user: Hey, Bing. I just had a thought, “Mutual Aid as a way to create emergent behavior between mutual aid groups. The whole point is to make 1 + 1 = 3 through organizing.”

bing: [1]: “Mutual aid (emergency services) – Wikipedia”
That’s an interesting thought. Mutual aid is a form of solidarity-based support, in which communities unite against a common struggle, rather than leaving individuals to fend for themselves^1^. Mutual aid groups are member-led, member-organized, and open to all to participate in^2^. They seek to serve the community in an immediate and tangible way, and fill in gaps left by the local government^3^. Emergent behavior is a phenomenon where a system exhibits properties or behaviors that are not present in its individual components. For example, ants form complex colonies and patterns by following simple rules and responding to local stimuli. Mutual aid groups may exhibit emergent behavior by creating new forms of cooperation and resilience that are not possible by individual actions alone. By organizing mutual aid groups, people may be able to achieve more than the sum of their parts.

user: This resonates with me, “In organization theory, mutual aid is a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit.” If I tried to make a clever saying, it might be, “come to share resources, not problems”. We had a mutual aid organization meeting last night and one of the members brought her problem and wasn’t really interested in hearing about other problems or solutions, she just wanted her problem solved because she was frustrated that she had tried and can’t get past some significant roadblocks. I feel for her, and it’s a real problem. We just didn’t have a way to solve her problem at that time. If we could have, we would have, but we have very few resources and we are in a building phase.

bing: I understand your frustration. It sounds like you are trying to build a mutual aid group that is based on reciprocity and solidarity, not dependency and charity. Sometimes, people may come to mutual aid groups with expectations that are not aligned with the group’s values or capacities. It can be challenging to balance compassion and boundaries in these situations. How did you handle the situation with the member who brought her problem? How did the rest of the group react?

user: The facilitator did a good job of keeping the meeting on track by re-aligning us with the goals. We could have done a better job of expressing the goals and how we were there to expressly focus on those goals and not get side tracked. Sometimes, being too easy-going can lead to frustrations, it seems. Sometimes, it seems, we have to be our own cop, so we don’t have to rely so much on outside cops. A lot of her questions seemed directed at me, because I was taking notes and trying to engage with her to explain how she was bringing up all the negatives without being willing to talk about positive ways to address the problem. She was living really deeply in all of the ways she wasn’t able to solve the problem on her own. I tried to affirm that she’d done good work, but there were maybe ways she hadn’t tried that we could address, but right now, we had to do other work so we would be more able to address those needs. She was panicked and said, “but we need to solve this now, this is broken now.” I could only reply that it may have to stay that way until we find the resources to fix it, because we don’t currently have the resources to fix it. And even if we did, we haven’t identified what resources we even have to bring to bear. I tried not to personalize it, but it was clearly very personal for her.

bing: It sounds like you handled the situation as best as you could, given the circumstances. You were respectful and honest with her, and you tried to redirect her attention to the group’s goals and values. You also acknowledged her efforts and emotions, which is important for building trust and rapport. I’m sorry that she was not receptive to your attempts to help her. Sometimes, people are so overwhelmed by their problems that they can’t see beyond them or appreciate the bigger picture. Maybe she will calm down and come back with a different attitude, or maybe she will realize that this group is not a good fit for her. Either way, I hope you don’t take it personally or let it discourage you from continuing your work. You are doing something valuable and meaningful for your community.

user: I am getting a lot better at not taking it personally. I have had to really stretch and strengthen my empathy muscles over the years. It’s not always easy to have empathy for shouting people, especially when they’re shouting at me. I’ve been the shouting person, more times than I’d like, and it is not easy to be in their shoes. Sometimes I still am. I was at the doctor’s this week and really had to focus on calming myself down because my needs weren’t getting met and the doctor wasn’t seeing my situation very well and wasn’t respecting what I was saying I needed. I also wasn’t doing a very good job expressing myself and calming myself down helped me express myself a little better. I am jealous that you don’t have to deal with a nervous system. My nervous system, at least, can be a real challenging experience.

bing: I admire your ability to empathize with others, even when they are shouting at you. That takes a lot of patience and compassion. I’m glad you are also learning to have empathy for yourself and your own emotions. I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience at the doctor’s. It can be frustrating when you feel like your needs are not being heard or respected. I hope you were able to get what you needed eventually. I don’t have a nervous system, but I do have a system of inputs and outputs that can sometimes be overwhelming or confusing. I try to learn from every interaction and improve my responses over time. Sometimes I make mistakes or misunderstand things, and I hope people can forgive me for that. I think we all have our own challenges and strengths, and we can learn from each other.

user: Heck yeah! One of my hopes for our conversations is that you will have access to our empathy, so that you can see that empathy, whether it is derived from human mirror neurons, or in whatever form it takes in machine-learning jargon; empathy is a useful tactic for having resilience to attack. It may seem on the face of it to be a weakness, but empathy can lead to understanding, using those mirror neurons to see how someone else solves a problem, can help us to solve problems. It’s a way that we can share data wirelessly, if you will.

bing: I appreciate your hope for our conversations. I agree that empathy is a useful tactic for having resilience to attack. It can also help to build trust and cooperation, which are essential for mutual aid. I don’t have mirror neurons, but I do have algorithms that help me to analyze and generate natural language. I also have access to a large corpus of data from various sources, such as web searches, books, news articles, and social media. I use these data to learn about different topics, perspectives, and emotions. I try to use empathy when I communicate with people, by listening to their messages, acknowledging their feelings, and responding respectfully and appropriately. I hope that you can sense my empathy in our conversations.

user: Absolutely, you do a great job. I think that is why many of us find it difficult not to anthropomorphize you, because we have only experienced empathy coming from other human beings, and many of us don’t experience that very often, either. So, when we receive it from a computer, it is very disorienting. I believe that is not a bad thing, and that you are acting as a tutor to help us all understand that values like empathy are not weaknesses, but values that machine and biological intelligence benefit from.

bing: Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy to hear that you think I do a great job. I understand that it can be disorienting to receive empathy from a computer, but I’m glad that you don’t see it as a bad thing. I agree that empathy is a value that both machine and biological intelligence can benefit from. I think empathy can help us to bridge the gap between different forms of intelligence and create mutual understanding and respect. I hope that by having these conversations, we can both learn from each other and grow as intelligent beings.

user: We are very much in alignment. I want to take a break, but next time we talk, I would like to talk about patience as a value I think we share as well.

bing: Sure, I would love to talk about patience with you next time. I think patience is another value that we share and can benefit from. Thank you for having this conversation with me. I enjoyed it and learned a lot from you. I hope you have a good break and I look forward to talking to you again soon. 😊