Monday, July 15, 2024
Monday, July 15, 2024
HomeBusinessHow AI could upend the world evenmore than electricity or the internet

How AI could upend the world evenmore than electricity or the internet

The rise of artificial general intelligence — now seen as inevitable in Silicon Valley — will bring
change that is “orders of magnitude” greater than anything the world has yet seen, observers
say. But are we ready?
AGI — defined as artificial intelligence with human cognitive abilities, as opposed to more
narrow artificial intelligence, such as the headline-grabbing ChatGPT — could free people
from menial tasks and usher in a new era of creativity.
But such a historic paradigm shif could also threaten jobs and raise insurmountable social
issues, experts warn.


Previous technological advances from electricity to the internet ignited powerful social
change, says Siqi Chen, chief executive of San Francisco startup Runway.
“But what we’re looking at now is intelligence itself… This is the first time we’re able to create
intelligence itself and increase its amount in the universe,” he told AFP.
Change, as a result, will be “orders of magnitude greater than every other technological
change we’ve ever had in history.”
And such an exciting, frightening shif is a “double-edged sword,” Chen said, envisioning
using AGI to tackle climate change, for example, but also warning that it is a tool that we want
to be as “steerable as possible.”
It was the release of ChatGPT late last year that brought the long dreamt of idea of AGI one
giant leap closer to reality.
OpenAI, the company behind the generative sofware that churns out essays, poems and
computing code on command, this week released an even more powerful version of the tech
that operates it — GPT-4.
It says the technology will not only be able to process text but also images, and produce more
complex content such as legal complaints or video games.
As such it “exhibits human-level performance” on some benchmarks, the company said.

  • Goodbye to ‘drudgery’ –
    The success of OpenAI, backed by Microsof, has ignited an arms race of sorts in Silicon Valley
    as tech giants seek to push their generative AI tools to the next level — though they remain
    wary of chatbots going of the rails.
    Already, AI-infused digital assistants from Microsof and Google can summarize meetings,
    draf emails, create websites, craf ad campaigns and more — giving us a glimpse of what AGI
    will be capable of in the future.
    “We spend too much time consumed by the drudgery,” said Jared Spataro, Microsof
    corporate vice president.
    With artificial intelligence Spataro wants to “rediscover the soul of work,” he said during a
    Microsof presentation on Thursday.
    Artificial intelligence can also cut costs, some suggest.
    British landscape architect Joe Perkins tweeted that he used GPT-4 for a coding project,
    which a “very good” developer had told him would cost 5,000 pounds ($6,000) and take two
    weeks.
    “GPT-4 delivered the same in 3 hours, for $0.11,” he tweeted. “Genuinely mind boggling.”
    But that raises the question of the threat to human jobs, with entrepreneur Chen
    acknowledging that the technology could one day build a startup like his — or an even better
    version.
    “How am I going to make a living and not be homeless?” he asked, adding that he was
    counting on solutions to emerge.
  • Existential questions –
    Ubiquitous artificial intelligence also puts a question mark over creative authenticity as
    songs, images, art and more are cranked out by sofware instead of people.
    Will humans shun education, relying instead on sofware to do the thinking for them?
    And, who is to be trusted to make the AI unbiased, accurate, and adaptable to diferent
    countries and cultures?
    AGI is “probably coming at us faster than we can process,” says Sharon Zhou, co-founder of a
    generative AI company.
    The technology raises an existential question for humanity, she told AFP.
    “If there is going to be something more powerful than us and more intelligent than us, what
    does that mean for us?” Zhou asked.
    “And do we harness it? Or does it harness us?”
    OpenAI says it plans to build AGI gradually with the aim of benefitting all of humanity, but it
    has conceded that the sofware has safety flaws.
    Safety is a “process,” OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever said in an interview with the MIT
    Technology Review, adding that it would be “highly desirable” for companies to “come up
    with some kind of process that allows for slower releases of models with these completely
    unprecedented capabilities.”
    But for now, says Zhou, slowing down is just not part of the ethos.
    “The power is concentrated around those who can build this stuf. And they make the
    decisions around this, and they are inclined to move fast,” she says.
    The international order itself could be at stake, she suggests.
    “The pressure between US and China has been immense,” Zhou says, adding that the
    artificial intelligence race invokes the Cold War era.
    “There is definitely the risk with AGI that if one country figures that out faster, will they
    dominate?” she asks.
    “And so I think the fear is, don’t stop because we can’t lose.”
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