Is artificial intelligence taking over? Well, the latest “groundbreaking” AI chat bot, trained to interact with users with advanced capabilities, is certainly creating quite the frenzy in the technology world.
Known as ChatGPT and created by a company called OpenAI, the software is designed to generate human-like responses to a wide range of inputs by using algorithms.
“ChatGPT seems like a human being,” Varun Mayya, CEO of software building company Avalon Labs, told Global News. “It’s just like a human being except it has all the world’s knowledge.”
Users can ask the AI to write essays, poems or scripts, or even translate or summarize text. It can also answer questions on a wide variety of topics or solve coding problems.
Moreover, it remembers previous texts so users can ask follow-up questions in a conversational way.
“This is like the early era of the internet, right in the 1990s where everyone is like, ‘Is this a thing? Is this not a thing,” said Mayya, who has been building software for ten years. “But now, beyond a doubt, it is a thing. It’s very groundbreaking.”
Assistant, friend or therapist?
At some point, Mayya says, everyone is going to use ChatGPT.
“I think eventually everyone’s going to use it. Everyone gets their own executive assistant, everyone gets their own friend, everyone gets their own therapist,” he said.
With its plethora of knowledge, ChatGPT can be practically anything the user makes of it — it can take on the role of a chef and provide recipes, make business plans for marketers, create press releases for public relations specialists or give advice like a therapist.
“It’s going to add a lot of value to the average person for sure,” said Mayya.
ChatGPT was launched on Nov. 30 and by Dec. 5 — less than a week later — it had already crossed one million users, according to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.
Since then, the terms “ChatGPT” and “OpenAI” have become breakout searches on Google Trends in both Canada and internationally.
The software is currently free as it sits in its research phase, though there are plans to eventually charge.
“We will have to monetize it somehow at some point; the compute costs are eye-watering,” Altman said online on Dec. 5.
'It's coming for everyone'
With ChatGPT’s current capabilities, it is “formidable” as an employee, according to Mayya.
“I foresee a lot of people losing their jobs, unfortunately. It’s coming for everyone,” he said. “The era of the creator is coming to an end. It’s going to be the era of the idea person and the idea person is going to use all these magical tools and build things out.”
“No white-collar job is going to be spared, not even the musicians,” Mayya added, noting this could do anything from content writing, architecture — all the way up to filling in for the CEO of a company.
“That gets scary.”
What are the risks?
The software isn’t accurate all the time. It can write plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers, as pointed out by its creator.
It comes with the risk of users believing what they’re being told, even if it isn’t true, according to Katrina Ingram, CEO of Ethically Aligned AI, a social enterprise that launched last year committed to consulting and educating companies on artificial intelligence.
“People might think of this as being really authoritative and accurate, which it isn’t,” she told Global News. “That could be really problematic.”
According to Ingram, ChatGPT is what is known as a “large language model.”
“What this means is that when you ask a question, the model is referencing this really large body of written information to produce a response,” she said.
“Since it was trained on dialogue, the response that comes back feels a lot more conversational. It feels like you’re talking to a person, not like you’re doing a search.”
“It feels like it’s very good at certain things, almost in an eerie way,” she added.
With AI advancing at a robust pace, ethical concerns do come into play, according to Ingram.
When thinking about the ethics behind ChatGPT, the high cost to run the language model and its impact on climate change is something that Ingram believes needs to be paid attention to.
“Cost is a big factor. There’s a lot of computation going behind these things. There’s a lot of energy consumption,” she said.
Last month, Meta also announced a new large language model AI software called Galactica that could “store, combine and reason about scientific knowledge.”
Launched with a public online demo, the software only lasted three days before being disabled.
Aside from users noticing the responses Galactica generated being incorrect or biased, it also had a tendency to produce hate speech.
Despite being disabled, the code for the model is still available for anyone to use.
'Art is important'
Like ChatGTP, AI art has also taken over social media thanks to software like Lensa AI and DALL-E 2.
As of Dec. 6, Lensa AI was the top free iPhone app. Although the app doesn’t cost anything to download, users must pay a fee to access personalized AI images of themselves created by the technology.
The app uses artificial intelligence algorithms to edit and modify photos of users to create “Magic Avatars” — a feature introduced last month. The process is powered by a model called Stable Diffusion.
As more and more users hopped on the trend, the app’s creator, Prisma Labs, hiked prices on Dec. 3 in order to keep up with demand.
“We are experiencing increased demand right now, the price increase was needed to keep the service live,” the company said online.
“We figured that live and working at a higher price is better than cheaper but barely working at all.”
Before Lensa AI became widely renowned online, DALL-E 2, another software created by OpenAI, was known for the digital images it could produce from text descriptions.
Although companies like Prisma Labs say it does not believe AI-generated images will replace digital art, many artists say there is a threat.
For Gabrielle Drolet, a cartoonist for the New Yorker living in Montreal, the AI art trend has been “hard to reckon with.”
Just as some say ChatGPT could have the potential to take away jobs, she said AI art could have the capability to take away money from artists.
“I hope it doesn’t have too big of an impact on the community, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did,” Drolet told Global News. “It’s scary and sad when you think of the illustrators whose work is being ripped off and those who don’t make money because of this.
“People make their living off of art and art is important.”
— With files from Reuters