Unlock the Power of A.I. - Possibilities or Doomed Future?
Much is the controversy surrounding artificial intelligence. Some find the idea of AI terrifying while others are thrilled and excited by the possibilities this revolutionary advancement can offer.
Sam Altman (Co-founder & CEO of OpenAI) appeared before the bipartisan Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology & the Law Subcommittee, mid May, advising that government impose strict legislations on Big Tech.
His comments served to amp the discourse even greater. His "worst fear" that "we cause, we the field, the technology, the industry, cause significant harm to the world" didn't help in stemming hysteria, either.
But, let's back up a bit and clarify what AI is, who Sam Altman is, and why the big hubbub, lately.
AI, Artificial intelligence, may be a phenomenon some believe has come full speed out of nowhere, but, the birth of AI can be traced back to the 1950s when computer scientist Alan Turing proposed the concept of a "universal machine" capable of imitating human intelligence.
Star Trek and Thunderbird fans will tell you, it was the advanced technology of these science-fiction classics that held them captive in the 60's - and beyond.
In the 70's, a medical "expert system" demonstrated such promising results, it inspired further research and development in the field of medicine and finance. "MYCIN" (derived from the bacterial genus "Mycoplasma) for example, was developed at Stanford University in the '70s, to assist physicians in diagnosing and treating bacterial infections, specifically focusing on infectious diseases. Based on knowledge derived from a vast amount of expert-validated rules and mental shortcuts for solving problems in a quick way while delivering results sufficient enough to be useful given time constraints, MYCIN achieved a level of accuracy comparable to human experts in diagnosing bacterial infections.
Sam Altman, stated in May that, "AI is founded on the belief of improving nearly every aspect of our lives... It is a tool to help us make new discoveries for some of humanity's biggest challenges like climate change and curing cancer."
This belief has proven correct as AI has infiltrated most every organization, and is finding its way into every household, one way or another.
We have all likely engaged with AI without even thinking about it. That animated voice asking to direct our call when calling businesses, Seri, Alexa, systems like Netflix and Amazon, in home "smart" applications, any social media platform! GPS is something many of us cannot live without. Best airfare deals found when dates are typed into a slot are other simple uses that were once incredibly amazing but today are routine time savers.
These AI generated listening devices, though, are becoming out of date - passé even; replaced by AI that not only quickly gathers then relays stored information, it can "think."
Thanks to the rise of machine learning algorithms in the 2000's, through techniques of
supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning, computers learn patterns from data and can make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed. More advanced than the predecessor, MYCIN, these programs can create code, draft business proposals and even write fiction, if you properly ask it.
Fotor AI Face Generator from description: 50 year older, Black woman, with grey afro.
UnRealPerson AI Face Generator does not accept descriptions. This is the first image generated of a Black Woman
after two hundred attempts.
One of three prominent figures on the topic of AI to speak before "committee," Altman peppered his presentation with statements like, "(AI) also creates serious risks people have to manage" and "Ensure safety is built into our work at all levels" as well as "Government must write regulatory intervention (possibly) via licensing and testing requirements for "powerful" AI models."
As co-founder of one of the leading and highly influential AI organizations in the world, this Stanford U dropout is known for his business ventures, philanthropy and advocacy. He has been actively involved in investing and advising startups in the tech industry for decades, and is well known for his contributions to the startup ecosystem - including being president of Y Combinator, a renowned startup accelerators, providing funding and mentorship to numerous early-stage companies, including Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit.
OpenAI developed a "deep learning" language model called Chat GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) that was fed vasts amounts of information and trained to generate responses that are informative and relevant to the request.
When ChatGPT was shared with the public, its user numbers skyrocketed in days. To put the excitement into context which may or may not be accurately fair, Facebook took years to gain equal notoriety. Hence the hubbub.
Octavia N. Howell, VP and Chief Information Security Officer at Equifax Canada, presented The Top 20 trends in Cybersecurity to the Credit Association of Greater Toronto, last month, in a webinar. The reason for this presentation was due to the fact that "across all industries, organizations are relying more and more on computerized systems to manage their day-to-day activities, triggering a significant shift in the need for increased defences against online attacks."
The big take away from Ms. Howell's webinar? Protect your online presence!
It would seem that changing your password on a regularly basis really is important, after all.
It would also seem that the reason many cyber attacks against organizations occur are: 1) said organization has inadequately (as in they likely have not) taken the steps necessary to protect their data via installing cyber protection or hiring staff to monitor/ protect against cyber attacks and or 2) allowing unnecessary access to (too many) vital programs - to staff with zero knowledge about the program capabilities - and risks!
This takes us back to Sam Altman's address to the Justice Committee and his words of caution...
But do these cautions release him from the responsibility of creating potentially world-altering technologies? Do he and his collaborators (Elon Musk was also a co-founder of Open AI, by the way) have a moral responsibility for technologies that have the potential to profoundly impact the world - in a negative way - in spite of their mission to develop safe and beneficial artificial intelligence?
OpenAI released ChatGPT to the public as a step toward gathering real-world feedback; a collaborative effort in terms of receiving user feedback and incorporating it into future iterations.
Their release, created a buzz and stir among specific group users they introduced the program to which gained media coverage that created a dramatic surge in general public attention (which of course must have been the company's intention).
Sure, Sam claims "his" AI is developed with "democratic" intelligence, and that companies "should have their own responsibility" in check, but, are "warnings" and
"a commitment to responsible AI development" useful when that hacker or psychopath engages in harmful behaviour - just for mischief? People have already "reproduced" people's faces and placed them in situations that never occurred (Yes, AI can do that, too)!
What is Altman's ethical accountability? Considering he as well as other visionary's who strive to push boundaries and revolutionize industries - as well as humanity - will take their bows and receive their accolades when positive discoveries are made, what of disastrous occurrences?
While considering questions of morality, here are some interesting facts about AI.
- About 77% of our electronic devices are powered and use AI technology.
- More than 80% of C-level (as in high-ranking corporate heads) trust AI and want to introduce it in their companies.
- AI market is expected to reach 190B $ by 2025 - 2025! And by 2030, AI should add 15.7T $ (that is trillion with a T -(16%) to the world's GDP).
- AI can boost our productivity by 40%.
- Nvidia and Google invest the most in AI.
Also note worthy is the news about the man paralyzed from the waist down for ten years that AI helped to walk through what scientists call, "A Thought Decoder!" See it here.
AI is here, and it is going to stay, but, is this the beginning of the end? Will Sam Altman be our real world Dr. Miles Dyson?