Published in The Business News on June 12th, 2023
At this point, ChatGPT and similar artificial intelligence platforms are basically old news. We’ve all heard of these products from coworkers, social media, our kids, or those pesky IT guys. Some people are excited, and some are terrified, so you know it’s something revolutionary. And make no mistake, it is revolutionary.
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) system, developed by the company OpenAI. It was released in late 2022. As I understand it, OpenAI basically uploaded the entire internet into a database, and developed ChatGPT and a means for people to ask it questions (and get answers). The longer you use it and the more detailed your questions get, the more useful it becomes.
In my company, we use ChatGPT to write blog posts, to answer questions and even to edit our own writing. For example, you can paste a 300-word email into ChatGPT and ask it to make it shorter. It will analyze your text and spit out a very succinct email, that is less than 200-words. If you are an over explainer like me, this is extremely valuable.
Many are concerned. Elon Musk said, “AI is more dangerous than, say, mismanaged aircraft design or production maintenance or bad car production, in the sense that it is, it has the potential — however small one may regard that probability, but it is non-trivial — it has the potential of civilization destruction”. You would take that as Elon being anti-AI, yet he announced in late April 2023 that he is working with Microsoft to create his own AI platform, called TruthGPT. Seems a bit like sour grapes…
Impact in Education
I have also heard of issues in schools, wherein kids are using ChatGPT to write papers for them. Back in the 80s, we basically plagiarized the encyclopedia. The difference was that we had to rewrite the answer in our own words and managed to accidentally learn something in the process. That said, should schools be restricting this technology or instructing on the proper use of it? Businesses use it and the teachers are using some form of AI, to check student papers for the use of AI. Why not teach kids to use the tech properly, so they are better prepared to enter the workforce?
I’m not saying that we should allow kids to use ChatGPT to do their homework for them. I’m saying that the curriculum should assume the use of ChatGPT and teach kids to use the resources available, to learn differently. Change the assignment. Kids should be learning the subject, not forced to do things the hard way. Anyone else have a parent who walked to school, uphill, both ways, in 10-feet of snow?
Along with ChatGPT, are a variety of AI-driven systems for creating art and working with images or video. OpenAI has a learning model called DALL.E. This one is pretty cool. You can ask it to show you pigs flying over a football stadium, in the style of Van Gogh and it will give you that image.
Other systems will allow you to modify video, to show Tom Cruise wishing your mother a happy birthday. This may be done with deepfake technology, which are synthetic media that have been digitally manipulated to replace one person’s likeness convincingly with that of another.
One more example is a service I tried, called Secta Labs. With this service, you provide 25-40 pictures of yourself, and they use AI to create head shots. The picture shown with this article was AI generated. I do look like that, but I didn’t do that specific pose, in that specific place. I asked Secta to create a series of headshots, ranging from formal to casual and in a variety of locations. It spit out about 350 images.
I’ll admit that 300 of those images were not great. Either they didn’t look like me or the AI struggled to create a realistic image. AI models have struggled with hands, thus far. Strange things but AI keeps giving people six fingers. I suspect it will learn better soon enough. The remaining 50, or so, picture provided were great and I use them.
In wrapping up, I will admit that the whole idea of AI is scary. Hollywood has done a nice job scaring the heck out of us with The Terminator and The Matrix. The machines will become self-aware and take out the humans, so they say. I don’t know enough about AI to convincingly say if that is true or not. I can say that Hollywood has been wrong, more often than right, and ChatGPT agrees with me on this.