Artificial Reasoning

Ian Mitroff
4 min readMar 24, 2023

Don’t Be Taken In By the Claims of AI

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AI proponents are at it again. They think, wrongly, that it can encompass the encompassing area of Human Reasoning[i].

At present, AI is good at analysis. That is, it’s extremely well versed in summarizing and answering complex questions about current books or news articles. But it’s not good at answering questions about that which has not happened yet. And, while it can write jokes, it doesn’t understand what makes someone actually laugh.

No wonder why even the most impressive AI systems are seen as complementing skilled workers, not replacing them.

In a word, AI currently does not, and I believe never will, embrace all of the different forms and kinds of human intelligence.

For years, my colleagues and I have used the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Inventory (MBPTI) to help both individuals and organizations better understand themselves and others. To do so, we’ve had them take the MBPTI in order to assess their Personality Type[ii].

The MBPTI differentiates between the following 16 different Types. The first dimension and thus difference is between Sensing and Intuitive Personality Types.

Those whose Personality is governed by a strong preference for Sensing are oriented to the Here and Now. They exhibit a strong preference for Facts that are verified. They thus tend to dismiss anything that is not grounded in Verifiable Facts and that which does not pertains to Today’s Realities. In a word, it’s too Abstract and Hypothetical to be take seriously.

In sharp contrast, Intuitive Personality Types are oriented to the Future and Hypotheticals. For them, What Might Be is more important than What Is. For them, Imagination is not only paramount, but holds sway over Facts. After all, the Facts of yesterday are nothing but the Falsehoods of today.

The second dimension pertains to Thinking versus Feeling.

For Thinking Types, Logic is paramount. That is, before something is accepted as True, it must pass the strict dictates of Logic. Starting with premises that are Logically Self-Evident, one must be able to Deduce Consequences that follow the strict Dictates of Logical Reasoning. Anything else is too “soft and squishy” to be accorded serious consideration.

For Feeling Types, the opposite holds true. That is, what’s truly important are Human Feelings and Emotions. Thus, before anything is accepted, the supreme question is, “How does it make you Feel about yourself and others?” Is it Pleasing and Harmonious, or does it further Discord? In other words, the most important Truths are those with better the Whole of Humankind.

Putting the two basic dimensions together in all possible ways results in the Four Major Personality Types: ST, NT, NF, and SF.

ST’s are analytical through and through. Starting with indisputable Facts and using cold-blooded Logic, one deduces Consequences that are indisputably True.

In sharp contrast, NT’s are oriented to the Hypotheticals and Big Picture. They are not concerned with what for them are the Constraints of Today’s Realities, but with what is Possible Going Forward. They are also not constrained by separate and independent Facts, but are concerned with the Big and Bigger Picture.

NF’s also share with NT’s a concern with the Big Picture, but it’s not an impersonal one. Instead, it’s highly personal, Multiple Pictures of what leads to the Betterment of the Entire Human Condition. Thus, not only is it not interested in impersonal Pictures, but it actively disdains them.

SF’s are interested in the Personal Being and Welfare of their close immediate friends and families. Humankind is too abstract a concept and far removed for them.

Finally, Introversion and Extroversion refer to the source of one’s basic energy. Does one derive it from deep inside of oneself in the case of Introversion (I), or in the case of Extroversion (N) from being around others? Thus, one can be a IST or a NST, and so forth for all the others.

The point is that AI applies largely, if not exclusively, to ST, and IST at that. That is, given a specific text and a clear set of rules, AI is able to deduce conclusions based on it. But when it comes to hypotheticals and Human Feelings, it’s hopelessly off the mark. For NT, NF, and SF cannot be reduced to ST.

Although I do not of course have the Data and thus I cannot know for sure, I’m willing to bet that the overwhelming numbers of AI developers are ST’s with a smattering of NT’s with their inflated pictures of the future of AI.

The overriding Moral of the MBPTI is that do not trust any one single Type to dictate the nature of the world and thus to own Reality. In short, we should not allow ourselves to be duped by the developers of AI and their outrageous claims.

[i] Cade Metz, “In Pushing Frontiers of A.I., Start-Up Sets Its Sights on Reasoning,” The New York Times, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, P A1 and A14.

[ii] Ian I Mitroff, Smart Thinking for Crazy Times, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, 1998.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.

Image by Kohji Asakawa from Pixabay