(Art design: Jean-Dominique Lavoix-Carli)
We created Sphinx, an AI assistant that will be your own personal “devil’s advocate”. Sphinx will assist you in challenging your assumptions and reinforcing your arguments, positions and sets of scenarios. Sphinx is based on OpenAI’s GPT3.5 model*, further trained with The Red Team Analysis Society’s methodology and knowledge.
Start challenging your own assumptions with Sphinx. Don’t forget to also read why a devil’s advocate matters, and discover how Sphinx challenges us on climate change. Please note that OpenAI GPT models ended their training in September 2021, and that for now, they do not browse the internet. Thus, apart from knowledge conveyed through RTAS articles, the AI assistants are not aware of news having taken place after September 2021.
Challenge your assumptions with Sphinx
* Check how to maximise interactions with AI.
* Try! The first 8 queries (across all our AI assistants) are complimentary. The bar below shows how much you have used in red and how much you can still use in black:
For guests: in a form (Pithia), one click on submit [red button] = 1 query – In a chat (Aria, Calvin, Kai, Regina, Sphinx), 1 question and 1 answer = 2 queries.
Assumptions, devil’s advocate and AI
Being able to see different perspectives is key for strategic foresight and warning, for example to develop scenarios.
It is crucial for communication to allow for proper exchanges and constructive behaviour.
|Initiation, exploration||Define your concern, scenario and image|
|Advanced||Indicators, drivers, factors, variables, causal links, models, and graphs.|
|Science||Geopolitics, international relations, political science|
|Sphinx||Biases||Challenge your assumptions and beliefs, devil’s advocate|
|Tip||7 Tips for Effective Communication with Chat AI Assistants|
Being able to challenge one’s hypotheses is indispensable in science. Indeed, in science we use falsification, i.e looking for an element, a fact, an event that would prove our hypothesis or explanation wrong. This is the only way to make sure our explanations, understanding, theories are valid (see, for example, Helene Lavoix, “Useful Rules for Strategic Foresight and Risk Management from Taleb’s The Black Swan“, The Red Team Analysis Society, 28 January 2013).
It is also fundamental, in strategy, to win.
One way to challenge our assumptions, is to use what is called a “devil’s advocate”. The term “devil’s advocate”, advocatus diaboli in Latin, also known as “Promoter of the Faith”, promotor fidei, comes from the practice in the Catholic Church, according to which
A dignitary “critically examined the life of and miracles attributed to an individual proposed for beatification or canonization… his presentation of facts included everything unfavourable to the candidate in order to uncover any character flaws or misrepresentations of their life of heroic sanctity.”Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia, “devil’s advocate,” Encyclopedia Britannica, August 9, 2022
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In contemporary usage, the term “devil’s advocate” refers to someone who plays a similar role in debates or discussions, by taking a position that is contrary to the majority view in order to identify weaknesses or flaws in the argument. As a result, s/he helps strengthen the overall position.
Facing an advocatus diaboli allows for challenging assumptions and stimulates critical thinking. In the context of strategic foresight and early warning, it is important to have a devil’s advocate perspective in order to identify potential blind spots or risks that may not be immediately apparent, and to ensure that all possible scenarios and outcomes have been thoroughly explored.
AI assistants that are built out of Large Language Models (LLMs) to hold conversations with human beings are very useful to play the “devil’s advocate” role. Furthermore, because they are not real people, then the emotional difficulty that may go with seeing one’s assumptions and beliefs challenged may be lessened. As issues of power and domination are removed when exchanging with an AI assistant, then we can more calmly ponder and reflect upon our ideas. As we get used to controversy and build more powerful arguments, then not only our cases, theories or strategies become more robust, but also, potentially, we may become stronger, calmer, more lucid and less stressed when facing opposition.
Case study: an AI devil’s advocate perspective on climate change
As example, we show here a session we had with Sphinx, challenging a belief, that is probably present in many people, regarding climate change:
User’s assumption: “Human beings have always overcome problems and our current civilisation is very advanced and enlightened. Thus, we shall have no difficulties continuing as we do and overcoming climate change.”
Sphinx: Let’s examine the hypothesis that human beings have always overcome problems and that our current civilization is advanced enough to overcome climate change. While it’s true that humans have a long history of overcoming challenges and progressing, it’s important to challenge this hypothesis and explore different perspectives. Here are some alternative viewpoints and questions to consider:
- What if climate change is different from previous challenges that we have faced, both in terms of scale and urgency? Climate change is a planetary condition that impacts the entire biosphere and all human societies. Its effects will last for centuries, if not millennia. What if we are facing a challenge that requires unprecedented levels of global cooperation and collective action to address?
- What if our current civilization is not advanced enough to overcome climate change? While our technological and scientific progress has been impressive, it has also created many of the problems we now face. Climate change is a symptom of a larger problem, which is the unsustainable use of natural resources and the degradation of ecosystems. What if we need to fundamentally change our economic and social systems to address the root causes of climate change?
- What if we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and they are worse than we expected? The increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and biodiversity loss are all signs that the impacts of climate change are already being felt. What if we are underestimating the scale and urgency of the problem, and need to take more radical action to avoid the worst outcomes?
- What if there are political and social barriers to addressing climate change that are difficult to overcome? Climate change is a deeply political issue, and requires concerted action by governments, businesses, and civil society. However, there are many interests that stand to lose from efforts to mitigate climate change, such as fossil fuel companies, and some governments and political factions. What if these interests are able to block or delay the necessary changes, making it difficult to address the problem adequately?
These are just a few alternative viewpoints and questions to consider when examining the hypothesis that human beings will be able to overcome climate change. It’s important to approach complex issues like this with an open mind, and to consider multiple perspectives and scenarios to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the situation.
*via API through AI Engine.