AI is here to stay

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

In the United States, the late night talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and others begin their programs with a comedic monologue. Recently, these live shows have all been forced to rely on replays because the guild of entertainment writers in the US have gone on strike. My understanding is that the main issue is the fear of these writers that they will eventually be replaced by different forms of artificial intelligence (AI), principally Microsoft Bing, ChatGPT and Google Bard.

I find it truly amazing that the prototype of ChatGPT was launched only last November 2022.

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI.  The name ChatGPT combines “chat,” referring to its chatbot functionality, and “GPT,” which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer which is a type of large language model.

Chatbot comes from the original chatterbot, “a software application that aims to mimic human conversation through text or voice interactions, typically online.” Google says the term “ChatterBot” was originally coined by Michael Mauldin in 1994 to describe conversational programs. Modern chatbots are AI systems that are capable of maintaining a conversation with a user in natural language and simulating the way a human would behave as a conversational partner. Such technologies are said to often utilize aspects of deep learning and natural language processing.

Although the core function of a chatbot is to mimic a human conversationalist, ChatGPT is much more versatile. In its present state of development, it can already write and debug computer programs, mimic the style of celebrities and CEOs; write business speeches; compose music; write teleplays, movie scripts and fairy tales and write student essays. It is also capable of answering test questions; write poetry and song lyrics; translate and summarize texts; play games like Tic Tac Toe and simulate an ATM.

These are its present capabilities. However, it can be expected to increase the number and complexity of its capabilities.

Based on talks with other current users, I learned that ChatGPT or Google Bard can be used to write business memos, lesson plans for faculty members and workshop materials. It was launched last November by a San Francisco-based company called OpenAI. By Dec. 4, 2022, ChatGPT had over a million users. In January 2023, it had reached over a hundred million users, making it the fastest growing consumer application today.

At its present rate of growth, it is conceivable that someday, ChatGPT and similar applications like Bard will become as common as the internet.

Last March 14, 2023, OpenAI released the ChatGPT-4 which can take images as well as text.  There have been mixed reviews to the release of this new application. The New York Times called it “the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public.” The Guardian newspaper of London said that it was able to generate “impressively detailed and humanlike text.” Technology writer Dan Gillmor used ChatGPT on a student assignment and found its generated text was on par with what a good student would deliver. He further said that “academia has some very serious issues to confront.”

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic Magazine wrote that ChatGPT was part of the “generative AI eruption that may change our mind about how we work, how we think and what human creativity really is.”

However, ChatGPT has also been met with criticism from educators, academics, journalists, artists, ethicists and public advocates. Over 20,000 signatories, including leading computer scientists and tech founders Yoshua Bengio, Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, signed an open letter calling for an immediate pause of giant AI experiments like ChatGPT, citing “profound risks to society and humanity.” The economist Tyler Cowen expressed concerns regarding the effects of ChatGPT on democracy.  He cited its ability to produce automated comments which could affect the decision process for new regulations. The Guardian questioned whether any content found on the internet after ChatGPT’s release can be truly trusted and called for government regulation.

At a recent Rappler forum on the future of AI, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie had a straightforward answer:  “We are on the precipice of something monumental. And we have no safety framework, no regulatory framework. We are so unprepared for this. And we’re just allowing an industry to … experiment with society. We are now a massive petri dish for these companies.”

Maria Ressa on navigating an AI future said: “So the one thing we’ve always said for years is education is long term, regulation is medium term.  And in the short term it is just us… What tech has proven to us – while we’ve been divided as a society – what it’s actually proven and what they’ve done is that we actually have far more in common that we have differences….”

A group of intellectuals led by Henry Kissinger recently wrote that “ChatGPT heralds an intellectual revolution… Generative AI presents a philosophical and practical challenge on a scale not experienced since the start of the Enlightenment.” They compare the invention of ChatGPT to Guttenberg’s printing press.

ChatGPT will revolutionize our lives and it is up to us to learn how to harness it.

*      *      *

Write with us again in a hybrid workshop at Fully Booked BGC and via Zoom in Writefest 2023 on June 26, 28, 30, July 3, 5 & 7. Meet and Greet authors Manix Abrera, Mae Coyiuto, Roel SR Cruz, Sofi Bernedo. Email [email protected] or call 0945. 2273216 for details.

Email: [email protected]

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