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Liminal Beings and GPT-3

Mario Gabriele
The Generalist
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Every culture has “liminal beings,” which are creatures of two realms. They are not quite human and not animals. Examples are Chiron, Hanuman, and Jesus.

Societal rites of passage are broken into three categories

  • Pre-liminal: Deals with the death of an old identity.
  • Liminal: Refers to the in-between state where new doors are opened, and identity is renegotiated.
  • Post-liminal: Signals a re-integration of being and an acceptance of a new identity.

The Turk

  • The Turk was a mechanical chess player.
  • It was only after the machine was destroyed that its creator revealed that a human sat inside of the Turk.
  • This gave way to a new type of chess player, a liminal being called the centaur, that consulted a chess engine while playing.
  • Not only could these centaurs polish their own technical skills by consulting the engine, but they could also teach the machine about their own intuition.


  • This is OpenAI’s newest language model and showcases the potential for AI.
  • It is so advanced because it can handle over 150 billion more parameters than other language models like Microsoft ZeRO-2 and GPT-2.

Centaurs, across disciplines

  • “Centaurizing” authors could allow them to write hundreds of more books but how would that affect the quality of their works?
  • In fields like law and medicine, liminal beings could help identify obscure and overlooked medical conditions or oft-ignored legal precedents.


  • A world increasingly made liminal could deepen our allegiances to a certain brand or artist.
  • Succeeding in this world would require humans to be more inquisitive, adaptable, and intuitive.
  • As we enter the liminal world and utilize AI even more, we must become more aware of the unconscious in order to become more human.
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