The ‘mind-blowing’ trend taking over the web
For years, we’ve been promised that the rise of artificial intelligence would revolutionize everything from our work lives to our personal relationships – and we’re finally starting to get a real glimpse of what that might look like.
An “awesome” new chatbot technology is taking over the internet with users raving about its apparent ability to write and respond to anything asked of it. San Francisco-based company OpenAI released its latest creation, called ChatGPT, to the public a little over a week ago, and people can barely contain their surprise.
The software application is designed to mimic human-like conversation based on user prompts, while harnessing the depths of online knowledge and unfathomable computing power to perform scripted tasks.
Within a week of ChatGPT being unveiled, more than a million users had tried it, according to the company’s CEO, Sam Altman. And the internet is buzzing about it.
What is ChatGPT and how does it work?
OpenAI states their ChatGPT model, trained using a machine learning technique called Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF), can simulate dialogue, answer follow-up questions, recognize errors, challenge wrong premises and reject inappropriate requests.
Initial development involved human AI trainers providing the model with conversations in which they played both sides – the user and an AI assistant. The version of the bot available for public testing attempts to understand questions posed by users and responds with in-depth answers that resemble human-written text in a conversational format.
Or, as Princeton computer science professor Arvind Narayanan put it: “A tool optimized for bull**tting”.
It’s been through a bunch of iterations, but it’s still early days. The popular real-world applications include digital marketing, creating online content, answering customer service inquiries or as some users have found, even helping to write and debug code.
Lonely could stream to chatbot: ‘It feels human’
While the most immediate use cases revolve around content creation and low-stakes customer services, it can also play a role in alleviating loneliness.
Australian-born tech worker James Allworth, who works as the head of innovation at Cloudflare and co-hosts the popular tech podcast Exponent, compared its potential to the movie Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix’s character has a romantic relationship with an artificially intelligent virtual assistant feeds. .
“That’s another thing that makes it possible, you suddenly have a guaranteed response,” he said
“It’s human and the reactions are so convincing that it starts to feel like you’re passing the Turing test,” he said, referring to the well-known test of a machine’s ability to exhibit the equivalent of intelligent behavior.
“You feel like you’re actually talking to a human being and there are a lot of lonely people out there who like that.”
His co-host, well-known tech commentator Ben Thompson, said questions about such applications in the future were “certainly very significant”, but likened the chatbot to something that could send out answers that had the “quality of a high school essay with the confidence of ‘ a 28-year-old man”.
‘Everything is going to be different’
Among those caught up in the excitement this week was Aaron Levie, an American entrepreneur and CEO of enterprise cloud company Box.
“ChatGPT is one of those rare moments in technology where you get a glimpse of how everything is going to be different going forward,” he tweeted.
While many marveled at the potential business applications, OpenAI’s Sam Altman was quick to remind people of its limitations.
“ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness,” he tweeted on Sunday. “It’s a mistake to rely on it now for anything important.”
Nevertheless, he described it as “a preview of progress”.
Are there any problems with ChatGPT?
As with many AI-driven innovations, ChatGPT doesn’t come without quibbles. OpenAI has acknowledged the tool’s tendency to respond with “plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers,” a problem it sees as a challenge to solve.
AI technology can also perpetuate social biases such as those around race, gender and culture. Tech giants including Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com have previously admitted that some of their projects experimenting with AI were “ethically difficult” and had limitations. At several companies, people had to step in and repair AI destruction.
Despite these concerns, AI research remains attractive. Venture capital investment in AI development and operations companies rose to nearly AUD$20 billion last year.
What does Elon Musk have to do with ChatGPT?
OpenAI was founded as a nonprofit in 2015 by Silicon Valley investor Sam Altman and billionaire Elon Musk and has attracted funding from several others, including venture capitalist Peter Thiel. In 2019, the group created a related for-profit entity to take in outside investment.
Musk, still mired in his overhaul of social networking firm Twitter, left OpenAI’s board in 2018 but agreed with his take on the viral phenomenon, calling it “scary good.”
Musk later tweeted that he was suspending OpenAI’s access to Twitter’s database after learning that the firm was using it to “train” the tool.
You can try ChatGPT here.
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