Posted March 31, 2023
By Ray Blanco
Unringing The AI Bell
Editor’s note: We’ve been keeping a close eye on artificial intelligence here at Paradigm Press.
The capabilities of ChatGPT caught many people off guard. A tool that seemingly came out of nowhere that turned many industries upside down, and had college professors pulling their hair out trying to keep students from using AI to write their papers.
With the recent release of ChatGPT 4, its new capabilities are proving that we have only scratched the surface of what’s possible in AI.
While the potential is exciting, many are taking a moment to consider some of the possible dangers of this technology developing unchecked.
Industry experts, some previously on the “gung-ho” side of AI, are asking for developers to slow down and make sure we’re doing this right.
Our tech expert Ray Blanco weighs in on why people are concerned, and if it’s even possible to unring the AI bell.
Pulling The Brakes on AI
When it comes to artificial intelligence, some of the brightest and most successful leaders in the tech world have expressed plenty of excitement over the years about the potential impact of this technology.
However, now that we seem to be staring the AI machine in the face, a handful of industry leaders are making a plea to pull on the brakes…
Just this week, several tech executives and top AI researchers, including Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk and AI pioneer Yoshua Bengio, are calling for a pause in the development of powerful new AI tools.
One reason cited is the breakneck pace of these developments, the group is worried that advancements happening too quickly will put us past the point of return should something go wrong.
As part of the appeal, the group wants to put a pause of six months on AI developments.
The idea of the pause is that it would provide time for the tech industry to evaluate the path ahead of it and determine the right moves to make.
From The Wall Street Journal:
These concerns and the recommendation for the pause were laid out in a letter titled “Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter” coordinated by the nonprofit Future of Life Institute, which lists Mr. Musk as an external adviser. The letter was also signed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak; Stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque; and co-founders of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin, who have been critical of social media and AI technology, said a spokeswoman for the team authoring the letter.
Additionally, the letter doesn’t aim to pause all AI development, but instead looks to slow down the training of advanced AI platforms even more powerful than OpenAI’s GPT-4.
Of course, I’m not entirely convinced a pause is the right move to make here.
Let’s take a look…
Past the Point of no Return?
For starters, one of my biggest issues with putting a pause on the development of such an impactful technology is that it would put the US months behind competitors like China.
If American companies decided to pause development, you could bet that China would take that opportunity and run with it in an attempt to give themselves a leg up on the rest of the world.
And while there are legitimate concerns regarding the future of AI technology, some of the leaders in the space appear to be taking the necessary steps to avoid any unwanted scenarios.
Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, has said that one of the pillars of the company has always been to prioritize safety in development.
In fact, the company spent more than six months doing safety tests on GPT-4 before its launch.
In a statement in response to the open letter, Altman said, “in some sense, this is preaching to the choir. We have, I think, been talking about these issues the loudest, with the most intensity, for the longest.”
Another layer of this situation involves the potential monetary gains companies can see through the advancements of AI.
Given all the excitement around AI, pausing development is likely a tough sell to major tech companies when they’re all looking to capitalize on the world’s next mega trend.
With experts calling AI a bigger deal than the invention of the internet, I don’t imagine many companies would be on board with pulling the emergency break.
When it comes down to it, there are several compelling reasons why AI developments should continue being researched…
Firstly, AI has the potential to solve complex problems that are beyond the capabilities of humans.
For example, AI can analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns and insights that humans might miss.
This becomes exceedingly useful in industries such as healthcare and biotech, helping humans develop life-saving drugs, creating more efficient therapies for a wide variety of diseases, and more.
AI can also improve efficiency by automating many repetitive tasks, freeing up humans to focus on more creative and strategic work.
This would carry the huge potential for companies to save money through such automation.
Improving efficiency and productivity across industries has long been a constant goal of businesses not just in the US, but around the world.
Of course, there are many more potential benefits the world could see through the development and ethical implementation of AI across industries.
It does remain important to put checks and balances in place to ensure that this technology is handled with care, but I am certainly excited at the prospect of a world that incorporates true artificial intelligence systems.