GPT' and Conformity

How to Foster Critical Thinking in a Group in the era of GPT’s: Lessons from Asch's Conformity Experiments

Have you ever wondered how much your opinions are influenced by the majority in a group? Do you think you would stick to your own vision even if everyone else disagreed with you? Or would you conform to the group pressure and give up on your critical thinking?

These are some of the questions that Solomon Asch, an American psychologist, tried to answer in his famous conformity experiments in the 1950s. He wanted to see how people would react when faced with a simple visual task that had an obvious correct answer, but also a group of confederates who gave a wrong answer unanimously.

The results were surprising and disturbing. Asch found that about one-third of the participants conformed to the group at least once, even though they knew the correct answer. Some of them did it to avoid being ridiculed or rejected by the group, while others doubted their own perception and judgment. Only a few remained independent and confident in their responses.

What does this mean for us today? How can we foster critical thinking in a group setting, especially when we have to deal with complex and uncertain situations? Here are some suggestions based on Asch's experiments and other research:

- Encourage diversity of opinions and perspectives. Having a variety of viewpoints can help us challenge our assumptions, consider different alternatives, and avoid groupthink. Diversity can also reduce the pressure to conform, as people are more likely to express their dissenting opinions when they see others doing the same².
- Create a safe and supportive environment. People are more likely to share their honest thoughts and feelings when they feel respected, valued, and accepted by the group. A safe environment also allows people to admit their mistakes, ask for help, and learn from feedback. To create such an environment, we need to foster trust, empathy, and openness among group members³.
- Promote constructive dialogue and debate. Rather than seeking consensus or agreement, we should aim for understanding and learning from each other. Dialogue and debate can help us clarify our assumptions, test our arguments, and refine our ideas. To do this effectively, we need to listen actively, ask questions, challenge respectfully, and acknowledge different perspectives⁴.

Imagine this scenario: You have a meeting with 10 participants. Nine of them did not have the time to prepare the meeting and ask ChatGPT for input. The tenth participant developed an own vision/opinion through critical thinking. What would happen if you followed these suggestions?

- You would be more likely to hear the tenth participant's opinion, as he/she would feel more comfortable to share it with a diverse and supportive group.
- You would be more likely to consider the tenth participant's opinion, as he/she would present it with evidence and logic, and invite feedback and questions from the group.
- You would be more likely to learn from the tenth participant's opinion, as he/she would engage in a constructive dialogue and debate with the group, and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of his/her position.

As you can see, following these suggestions can help you foster critical thinking in a group setting, and avoid the pitfalls of conformity. Critical thinking is not only beneficial for individuals, but also for groups and organizations. It can help us solve problems creatively, make better decisions, and achieve our goals.

So next time you find yourself in a group situation where you have to express your opinion or make a choice, remember Asch's experiments and ask yourself: Am I conforming or thinking critically?

'AI en Ethiek'

Chairman of the day Ronald Jeurissen opened the afternoon with the question: “How can Artificial Intelligence respect and promote people's freedom? The technology is still new and nobody knows what the future will look like." Still, he is hopeful: "Now is the chance to shape AI and ethics yourself."

Simone van der Burg, senior researcher at Wageningen University & Research, presents the dilemmas of smart farming. “Smart farming consists of technical means that help farmers to better understand their business. Think of sensors that measure the soil composition or the production of a dairy cow. But who owns that data? Is that the farmer's trade secret? Or from ICT companies? Or should society be able to control farmers so that they produce more, responsible and safe food?” Van der Burg sees those involved struggling with this question and continues her research into the ethical aspects of smart farming.

AI and Ethics Seminar - Technical and Ethical Considerations of Artificial Intelligence
Big Data or Big Brother?

“Facebook defines who we are, Amazon knows what we want and Google knows what we think,” says Marcel Becking, philosopher at Radboud University Nijmegen. “Big data knows better than we do what we want. But if the technology is used like Big Brother, then our autonomy is at stake. Power is an important element. Silicon Valley companies know a lot. But no data about your health, education and banking. What happens if you text or email your doctor? That is why it is important that politics also plays an important role. GDPR is the first step.”
building dreams

Annelies van den Brink and Jan Marsman of Hitachi ask the question: What are people doing with AI worldwide and what can the Netherlands add to it? According to Forbes, Russia is investing in war technology and the US is investing in talent. Estonia is a forerunner in legal issues about AI. They also have a relatively large number of start-ups. And the Netherlands? Van den Brink explains: “Invest in collaboration and technology. In the Golden Age we built the best ships, we can do that again now. Build a dream.”
AI and robots: curse or blessing?

Guszti Eiben of VU Amsterdam says: “Machine learning is hot. AI must satisfy four things: thinking and acting as a human being and thinking and acting rationally. Intelligence needs a body, mind, hardware and software. I expect the development to go fast.” If robots can think for themselves and develop new robots themselves, the following question will arise: “Who should be protected in the future? Do robots have rights?” One thing is clear: living and working with AI will never be the same again.

Seminar AI and Ethics
Cyber ​​crime and AI

Jan Veldink is the last speaker of the seminar. He works at Rabobank and is a teacher at Nyenrode. “Banks face major challenges to protect their customers. Fighting fraud has to be done quickly. It is illogical for someone to withdraw money within an hour in both the Netherlands and Indonesia. In addition, machine learning machines must be 100% correct. And you have to be prepared for new attacks all the time.” Technology will certainly change the future. Veldsink: “We want it to be safe and add value.”

Participant Marko Kiers will start as a manager at Oracle next month. He says: “I found Eiben inspiring. He uses fun TV series like Westwood in his presentation. I also found smart farming very interesting. What will happen if farmers can live off their data sales? That provides a greater return for the early adopters.” Joke Ederveen follows the module Market, Law & Ethics at Nyenrode. “I thought it was very topical. It has become clear to me that knowledge should be available to everyone. In my role as a business consultant, I want to put AI more on the agenda.”
Modular Executive MBA in Business & IT

The topics in this seminar are covered during different modules of the Modular Executive MBA in Business & IT. Learn how to bridge the gap between IT and Business as a manager or director.
April 2023
January 2020