The Age Of AI

The other day I reflected on a future of transportation post via Bill Gates. Today, I am writing about his recent post on the age of AI. Driven by the fascination of ChatGPT, I’ve heard the phrase “The Age of AI” multiple times recently. The launch of ChatGPT made what was lurking beneath the surface visible – the same effect that the pandemic had in making the word “resilience” a critical part of our vocabulary. Artificial intelligence was already on this path, but this recent exposure is making it real for many. I asked this question initially in February 2020: Will Artificial Intelligence be more impactful than fire, electricity, or the Internet? I followed it up with a second poll late in 2022. The community answered in the following way.

In his article, Mr. Gates says that after witnessing an AI model ace a bio exam, he knew he had just seen the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface. While the graphical user interface was revolutionary, fire and electricity seem to be in a different category. He does go on to compare AI to the Internet, mobile phones, and microprocessor, and states that it will change work, learning, travel, health care, and communication. He goes as far as saying entire industries will reorient around it and businesses will distinguish themselves by how well they use it.

In September, when I met with them again, I watched in awe as they asked GPT, their AI model, 60 multiple-choice questions from the AP Bio exam—and it got 59 of them right. Then it wrote outstanding answers to six open-ended questions from the exam. We had an outside expert score the test, and GPT got a 5—the highest possible score, and the equivalent to getting an A or A+ in a college-level biology course.

Bill Gates

His post shifts focuses to the role AI can play in advancing human development. He provides the following examples:

  • Improving healthcare and saving the lives of children
  • Accelerate the rate of medical breakthroughs
  • Improve food production in the face of multiple challenges
  • Improving education through personalization and enabling the attainment of basic math skills
  • Aiding with the challenges of climate change
  • Reducing inequity – not exacerbating it
  • Raising productivity to benefit society

The possibility space will explode as an arms race intensifies. With this explosion comes the opportunity to advance human development once again. But, as with every major advancements throughout history, there is a destructive side to this path. That path has become more visible, as demonstrated by the recent open letter issued by the Future of Life Institute. They state that AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs. They describe what should now be abundantly clear, the proper planning and management is not in place to ensure that powerful AI systems are developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable. There call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4, has now collected nearly 3,124 signatures. Mr. Gates touched on this in his post:

We should try to balance fears about the downsides of AI—which are understandable and valid—with its ability to improve people’s lives. To make the most of this remarkable new technology, we’ll need to both guard against the risks and spread the benefits to as many people as possible.

Bill Gates

History is very instructive. Slowing down innovation versus accelerating the necessary change in our institutions has not been a very good option. Several dynamics factor in, like competitive advantage for nation states. Any movement towards a moratorium must be a global movement. With all this said, it seems like a good time to ask this question again. Society resists changes that alter what we know about society. As these changes become visible, perspectives often change with time. ChatGPT played a role in driving visibility – does that visibility alter your perspective? Let me know via the poll.

2 thoughts on “The Age Of AI

  1. It’s a bit of an awkward question – there is no doubt that AI will have a major impact on an enormous amount of sectors and my partners and our teams obviously use what is available right now.
    It will change the world for sure – but the question was if AI will be bigger than the introduction to electricity as asked; first of all AI can’t exist without electricity and if you think on how it made it possible to create exactly AI – makes it into a egg and hen discussion and therefore per definition waste of time.
    What is important in the discussion about AI is that investors must remember not to place all their money on one number – clever and simple analogue solutions also do it in many cases, why it should not be forgotten in this fragile world.

    Liked by 1 person

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