AI: Mainstream AI getting closer. RTZ #361

AI: Mainstream AI getting closer. RTZ #361

The Bigger Picture, Sunday May 19, 2024

For the last few Sunday ‘Bigger Picture’ pieces, I’ve been laying the case that 2024 is the year (1) mainstream fear of AI and ‘AGI’ (Artificial General Intelligence) of last year is shifting to ‘fear of missing out’, and (2) billions of regular folks are poised to see the benefits first-hand vs their fears borne of scifi and ‘AI doomer’ talk.

This Sunday, after a week where both OpenAI and Google laid out what’s coming in their latest multimodal Voice driven waves of LLM AI models for the mainstream masses over the next couple of years, I’d like to make the case that the media focus may be slowly shifting from fear to AI benefits as well. All this less than two years into this ‘AI Tech Wave’, post OpenAI’s ‘ChatGPT moment’ November 2022. Let me unpack that here.

On the skeptical side of the fence still, are media luminaries like the New York Times’ Julia Angwin, who in “Press Pause on the Silicon Valley Hype Machine” states:

“It’s a little hard to believe that just over a year ago, a group of leading researchers asked for a six-month pause in the development of larger systems of artificial intelligence, fearing that the systems would become too powerful. “Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?” they asked.”

“There was no pause. But now, a year later, the question isn’t really whether A.I. is too smart and will take over the world. It’s whether A.I. is too stupid and unreliable to be useful. Consider this week’s announcement from OpenAI’s chief executive, Sam Altman, who promised he would unveil “new stuff” that “feels like magic to me.” But it was just a rather routine update that makes ChatGPT cheaper and faster.”

That view of ‘routine update’ would be counter to many positive takes onOpenAI and Google’s meaningful updates and features coming for GPT-4 ‘omni’ and beyond from OpenAI, and Google’s Gemini Flash and Alphafold 3 announcements.

A representative counter view to Julia Angwin would be tech media luminary and author Steven Levy of Wired, who in “It’s time to believe the AI Hype” lays out a comprehensive case why public perceptions may be shifting:

“Tech pundits are fond of using the term “inflection points” to describe those rare moments when new technology wipes the board clean, opening up new threats and opportunities. But one might argue that in the past few years what used to be called out as an inflection point might now just be called “Monday.”

“Certainly that applied this week. OpenAI, denying rumors that it would unveil either an AI-powered search product or its next-generation model GPT-5, instead announced something different, but nonetheless eye-popping, on Monday. It was a new flagship model called GPT-4o, to be made available for free, which uses input and output in various modes—text, speech, vision—for disturbingly natural interaction with humans.”

“What struck many observers about the demo was how playful and even provocative the emotionally expressive chatbot was—but also imbued with the encyclopedic knowledge of data sets encompassing much of the world’s knowledge. CEO Sam Altman expressed the obvious in a one word tweet: “Her.” That movie—where the protagonist falls in love with a seductive, flirty chatbot—has been evoked endlessly of late.”

“But the reference has a special kick when it comes from someone whose company has basically just built the damn thing like the screenplay was a blueprint. Also crazy was another demo posted by OpenAI that involved one chatbot scanning a scene with a camera and a second chatbot asking it questions.”

Both pieces are worth reading this Sunday for the AI ‘point-counterpoint’ discussion and debate. Then decide for yourself whether AI innovations being rolled out are potentially worth paying attention to on a bottom up basis. Considering hard, the utility for regular folk going forward.

Billions will need to make up their mind personally. And the technologies will of course not meet our expectations every day and immediately.

But they’re getting better exponentially as I’ve pointed out, following AI Scaling Laws. And for the next few years, these will likely beat Moore’s Law, which gave us massive computing driven global prosperity for over half a century.

The ground is shifting in terms of AI usefulness in mundane things we do every day. It may be time to focus on that instead of all the ‘pro and con’ AGI debates around the AI Tech wave thus far. And that is the ‘Bigger Picture’ I’d like to leave with you this Sunday. Stay tuned.

(NOTE: The discussions here are for information purposes only, and not meant as investment advice at any time. Thanks for joining us here)

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