How AI could upend the world even more than electricity or the internet

How AI could upend the world even more than electricity or the internet

The rise of general artificial intelligence – now seen as inevitable in Silicon Valley – will bring changes that are “orders of magnitude” bigger 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 narrower artificial intelligence such as the headline-grabbing ChatGPT—could free humans from heavy tasks and usher in a new era of creativity.

But such a historic paradigm shift could also threaten jobs and raise insurmountable social issues, experts warn.

Earlier technological advances from electricity to the Internet sparked 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’ve been able to create intelligence itself and increase its amount in the universe,” he told AFP.

The change, as a result, will be “orders of magnitude greater than any other technological change we’ve ever had in history.”

And such an exciting, scary change is a “double-edged sword,” Chen said, envisioning the use of AGI to tackle climate change, for example, but also warning that it’s a tool we want to be as ” possible”.

It was the release of ChatGPT late last year that brought the long-dreamed idea of ​​AGI one giant step closer to reality.

OpenAI, the company behind the generative software that produces essays, poems and computer code on command, this week released an even more powerful version of the technology that powers it – GPT-4.

He 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” in some benchmarks, the company said.

– Goodbye ‘procrastination’ –

The success of Microsoft-backed OpenAI has ignited an arms race of sorts in Silicon Valley as the tech giants try to push their AI-generating tools to the next level — though they remain wary of emerging chatbots. rails.

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Already, AI-infused digital assistants from Microsoft and Google can summarize meetings, compose emails, create websites, create ad campaigns and more — giving us a glimpse of what AGI will be in future state.

“We spend a lot of time consuming the effort,” said Jared Spataro, Microsoft corporate vice president.

With artificial intelligence, Spataro wants to “rediscover the soul of work,” he said during a Microsoft presentation on Thursday.

Artificial intelligence could also lower costs, some suggest.

British landscape architect Joe Perkins tweeted that he used GPT-4 for a coding project that a “very good” developer had told him would cost £5,000 ($6,000) and take two weeks.

“GPT-4 delivered the same in 3 hours, for $0.11,” he tweeted. “Truly fascinating.”

But it raises the question of the threat to people’s jobs, with entrepreneur Chen admitting that 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 coming out.

– Existential question –

Ubiquitous AI also puts a question mark on creative authenticity, as songs, images, art and more are curated by software instead of humans.

Will people eschew education, relying instead on software to think for them?

And who should be trusted to make AI unbiased, accurate and adaptable to different countries and cultures?

AGI is “probably coming at us faster than we can process,” says Sharon Zhou, co-founder of an AI generation company.

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 use it?

OpenAI says it plans to gradually build AGI with the goal of benefiting all of humanity, but has acknowledged that the software has security flaws.

Security is a “process,” OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever said in an interview with MIT Technology Review, adding that it would be “very desirable” for companies to “come up with some kind of process that allows for slower model releases with these completely unparalleled abilities”.

But for now, says Zhou, slowing down is not part of the ethic.

“The power is concentrated around those who can build these things. And they make the decisions about it, and they tend to move quickly,” she says.

The international order itself may be at risk, she suggests.

“The pressure between the US and China has been tremendous,” Zhou says, adding that the AI ​​race harkens back to the Cold War era.

“There’s definitely a risk with AGI that if one country figures it out faster, will it dominate?” she asks.

“And so I think the fear is, don’t stop because we can’t lose.”


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