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Embracing AI’s Potential Amidst Skepticism and Mistrust: Navigating the Future of Technology

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Authored by Steven

Don't Let Your Doubts About Tech Giants Overshadow AI's Potential

From my perspective, nearly seven decades since the inaugural AI conference, where its early pioneers believed they'd crack the code in just ten years, we're on the cusp of AI revolutionizing our world. Achieving artificial general intelligence, or AGI, isn't a prerequisite for this seismic shift. I argued this point in a previous article three weeks back, pointing out that despite claims of stagnation following the groundbreaking advancements of sophisticated language models like ChatGPT, progress hasn't stalled. Contrary to the skeptics who downplayed the remarkable capabilities showcased by OpenAI's GPT-4, Anthropic's Claude 3, Meta's Llama 3, and Microsoft's array of Copilots as mere sophisticated parlor tricks, I maintain that the excitement surrounding these developments is well-founded.

Interestingly, this outcome was far from obvious to many individuals. The backlash was swift and intense. My relatively unbiased tweet regarding the column garnered over 29 million views, and a significant portion of those viewers were glaring at me with hostility. I got hundreds of responses, and while some did agree, the overwhelming majority were critical and conveyed their dissent in a rather rude way.

Criticism arose from multiple sources. Initially, critics targeted the progression of artificial intelligence, labeling me an incompetent reporter for uncritically endorsing the deceptive stories promoted by technology firms advancing AI. "You're merely a puppet," one critic remarked. Another accused, "You're echoing the falsehoods spread by those fraudsters." Following Google's launch of its AI Overview search tool, which was marred by glaring inaccuracies, my critics used these blunders as evidence to argue that there was no substance in generative AI technology. "Hope you like your pizza with a side of adhesive," one commenter mockingly suggested.

Some individuals took the chance to voice their concerns about the perils of artificial intelligence, a viewpoint that supports my belief that AI is a significant issue. "Just like the Atomic Bomb," commented a user on Twitter. "What was the outcome of that?" A group voiced their disapproval of Large Language Models for utilizing copyrighted content in their training. While this critique holds merit, it doesn't lessen the capabilities of these models.

My preferred rebuttal came from an individual who referenced the instance I mentioned about a large language model (LLM) acing the bar examination. "Scoring high on the bar exam is something DeepMind could achieve back in its Jeopardy days," commented the critic. However, it was actually IBM's Watson that excelled in Jeopardy, not DeepMind, which was merely in its initial stages at that time—and Watson was specifically designed for that quiz show. Given that the bar exam doesn't involve answering with questions for provided statements, it's preposterous to assume Watson would have succeeded. The error in that claim is so profound that it would challenge even the most wildly imaginative LLM to surpass! When I posed the question to several LLMs about Watson's potential to pass the bar exam, each one of them methodically and accurately clarified why it wouldn't be feasible. Score one for the machines.

Disregarding the impolite nature of some comments—which seems to be the norm on X—the overall sentiment can be seen as understandable, albeit somewhat misinformed. We are currently in a phase of discovery, with users just starting to uncover the potential of the innovative technologies being developed by AI firms. While it's easy to dismiss the inaccurate outputs from AI Overviews and similar Large Language Models (and to note that Google isn't the only one encountering errors), it's important to acknowledge that major tech enterprises have intentionally released products that are not yet fully developed. This strategy is partly due to their desire to learn how to enhance these offerings through real-world use and partly because the fierce competition leaves them no choice but to continue their rapid pace of development.

Authored by Matt

Authored by Matt

Written by Megan Farokhmanesh

Authored by Joseph

In more subtle ways, artificial intelligence is currently transforming sectors such as education, retail, and professional environments. A colleague of mine shared his experience working for a prominent tech company known for its detailed and traditional approach to launching significant projects. This process traditionally required extensive planning, programming, and systematic implementation, stretching over several months. However, he recently witnessed a demonstration where cutting-edge AI technology was applied to a standard software development task. “What used to take us months to accomplish was completed in just a few hours,” he remarked. “This has led me to concur with your opinion. Many of the businesses around us are essentially walking dead.” It's no surprise that this is causing widespread concern.

Many people's anger towards artificial intelligence stems from their lack of trust in the corporations that develop and market it. Interestingly, I had a meeting over breakfast this week with Ali Farhadi, the head of the Allen Institute for AI, which is dedicated to nonprofit research. He is utterly convinced that the excitement around AI is warranted, but he also understands the skepticism of those who are wary, attributing it to the general public's suspicion towards the major companies aiming to lead in this area. “AI is often perceived as a mysterious technology that only a handful of companies can afford to explore,” Farhadi mentioned. He believes that the rapid pace at which AI technology is being developed further amplifies this skepticism. “There’s a collective lack of understanding, yet we’re already implementing it,” he observed. “I’m not opposed to it, but we should be prepared for these systems to act in ways we can’t predict, and for people to respond to those actions.” Farhadi, who supports the idea of making AI open source, argues that at a minimum, the leading firms ought to openly share the data they use to train their AI models.

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that numerous individuals involved in AI development also commit themselves to the goal of creating AGI. While a significant number of leading researchers view this as beneficial for humanity—a core belief of OpenAI—they have yet to convincingly argue this point to the general public. "The idea that AGI is just around the corner, whether it's tomorrow, next year, or in six months, is causing irritation among people," mentions Farhadi, who does not support the idea. According to him, AGI is more of an ambiguous concept than a precise scientific term, which complicates the wider acceptance of AI. "In my research group, anytime a student mentions AGI, it effectively extends their study period by half a year," he states.

From my perspective, I remain undecided about the matter of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)—I'm not convinced that we're on the brink of achieving it, but at the same time, I'm uncertain about future developments. Conversations with those deeply involved in AI research reveal that they're also unsure about what the future holds.

Certain things are becoming evident to me, and I believe that in time, everyone, even those who criticize me on social media, will recognize these truths. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the path to becoming more sophisticated. Individuals will harness this technology to simplify aspects of their professional and personal lives. However, this advancement will also lead to job losses and the upheaval of entire businesses. The emergence of new employment opportunities and companies due to the rise of AI will offer little comfort to those who find themselves without work or relegated to low-wage positions at retailers like Walmart. Meanwhile, everyone involved in the AI sector, including writers such as myself, should strive to comprehend the root of widespread frustration and acknowledge the legitimate grievances people have.

Authored by Matt

Authored by Matt

"Authored by Megan Farokhmanesh

By Joseph Cox

Time Travel

Reflecting on the 1956 AI conference at Dartmouth, one cannot help but recall Marvin Minsky, a truly remarkable intellect. Following his passing in 2016, it raised the question of whether the most sophisticated artificial intelligence could ever rival the organic brain power he possessed. It's a daunting consideration.

Marvin Minsky presented a fascinating paradox. Co-founding artificial intelligence alongside John McCarthy, he was convinced from the 1950s that machines could one day mimic human thought processes. Yet, Minsky's own intellect was so vast, enigmatic, and extraordinary that it seemed impossible for even a million breakthroughs in AI to replicate a mind as unique as his. Personally, I find it hard to envision such a feat. However, it's possible that Minsky himself could have envisioned it. His creativity knew no limits…

Minsky, a man whose charm and significance were immediately apparent, captivated me with his profound insights and enigmatic comments. Since 1958, he had been a fixture at MIT, where he distinguished himself by inventing the head-mounted display, among other things, and leading early research in both artificial intelligence and robotics. His conversations alone, sparkling with the wit of a seasoned stand-up comedian, would have ensured his memorable impact, even without his technological contributions. Minsky was a perpetual inquirer, offering observations that were as unconventional as they were insightful, presenting ideas so intuitively correct that it was surprising they weren't more widely recognized. Spending just a few hours with him changed the way you saw the world. It was only much later that I understood the fundamental lesson of his everyday demeanor: questioning the common view of the world was a path to true intelligence.

Inquire About Anything

Mark inquires, "What concerns should technology have if Trump serves another term?"

Thank you for your query, Mark. Rather than touching upon the broad concerns that a second Trump administration might raise, I'll focus specifically on your question. The landscape for the technology sector under Trump's potential re-election has grown more complex, especially since several wealthy tech moguls from Silicon Valley have shown support for the ex-president, despite his legal troubles. Recently, technology billionaires Chamath Palihapitiya and David Sacks organized a fully booked fundraiser for Trump, setting the price at $300,000 for those wishing to join the "host committee" and dine, and $50,000 for those only attending the reception. There are also reports suggesting Elon Musk is positioning himself to serve as Trump's technology advisor should he secure a second term.

Authored by Matt

Authored by Matt

Authored by Megan Farokhmanesh

Authored by Joseph

It's evident that not all individuals in the technology sector are concerned about Trump. In fact, his potential re-election could temporarily benefit major corporations. Trump is likely to roll back the strict regulatory and antitrust enforcement measures introduced by the Biden administration. (Farewell to net neutrality and welcome back to significant mergers and acquisitions by technology firms.)

The technology sector also has significant concerns. Trump is known for favoring his allies and targeting those who oppose him. Take, for example, his attempt to redirect TikTok towards Oracle, which is led by his supporter Larry Ellison. The technology industry thrives on a merit-based system, and the introduction of crony capitalism could be detrimental to its success.

During its initial term, the Trump administration did not prioritize significant infrastructure projects, including those in chip manufacturing. Now, there's speculation about whether it would reverse the substantial funding President Biden has implemented in this area. Additionally, there's uncertainty regarding the future of technology policy. The Biden administration has taken a meticulous approach to artificial intelligence, emphasizing the importance of monitoring its risks and security concerns. It remains to be seen whether Trump would dismantle these measures, especially since he hasn't frequently discussed AI while campaigning. Despite this, it's likely that top executives in major tech firms would adapt to accommodate Trump's policies. However, over time, a reduction in government spending on research and a shift towards favoritism could potentially undermine the strength of the U.S. technology sector.

Also, anticipate that Trump may decree all official government correspondence be carried out via Truth Social. Just jesting. Or am I?

Please send your inquiries to mail@wired.com and include "ASK LEVY" in the subject heading.

End of Days Gazette

Summer hasn't officially started, yet temperatures in India have already soared past 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Given this, Phoenix's 110-degree heat might not seem quite as extreme.

Final Thoughts

Summaries about AI don't always miss the mark. However, this instance presents a peculiar scenario where an accurate response bore a striking resemblance to phrasing found in an article by WIRED.

A town in California deployed drones to respond to emergency calls, potentially compromising the privacy of residents in less affluent areas.

Authored by Matt

Authored by Matt

Authored by Megan Farokhmanesh

Authored by Joseph

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