There’s a lot of talk about AI doing the rounds at the moment. For some people, it’s the best thing since sliced bread – it even knows what sliced bread is, which is kind of weird – for others, however, it’s an apocalyptic disaster just waiting to happen.
Now we’re not sure whether AI is going to be the human-killing tech that some people say it is – heck, it’s only just learned about sliced bread, baby steps, people – but a lot of the concern surrounding AI’s negative influences are warranted, and that’s
why something like the AI Summit is important.
The AI Summit Explained
For those unaware, a little thing happened at the beginning of this month. It was an event organised by UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak. Called the AI Summit, this event brought global leaders, computer scientists, and tech executives altogether in one room.
No, not for the least cool party ever, but to talk about the opportunities and dangers of this new technology.
It began in style. Billionaire tycoon Elon Musk turned up and told everyone that
AI will be used by extinctionists to ensure humanity’s extinction. Kamala Harris declared America, not Britain, as the global leader in AI innovation, sweeping the rug from under the UK’s feet in their own house. And the New Scientist declared the summit
as a photo opportunity rather than an open debate, which was hilarious, but very true.
The whole thing was a strange hot pot of feelings and opinions, with none of them really boiling into an answer. That wasn’t so much an issue with the summit itself – as we mentioned, it’s important to bring global leaders together to actually talk about
things – but rather the supposed topic of the summit: is AI a hero or a menace?
How can this topic be purposefully discussed when we haven’t actually experienced AI yet? This is a topic for two, five, ten years in the future, and maybe not even then. Why do we say this? Because, technically, AI doesn’t actually exist.
The Concept Of True AI
That may be a head-scratcher statement, we’re aware, but hear us out for a second. While basic AI does exist, true AI – or the AI that was being discussed during the AI Summit – doesn’t. Right now, the AI that we’re seeing is a marvel. It can help sift through
vast amounts of data for a marketing company, or it can help detect fraudulent activities for an online casino.
It can even personalise the consumer's online experience. From tailor-made shopping suggestions to personalised
recommendations for the best online casino, algorithms are growing more and more accurate across a variety of sectors. It’s great, and every industry around the world can benefit from the technology, but the
technology itself is not AI as we think it is.
Take ChatGPT, for instance. If someone talks about AI, then ChatGPT is often the first topic to come up. In fact, we’re pretty sure that the AI Summit may not even have happened if ChatGPT wasn’t a thing. Since the invention of the computer in the 1940s,
this has been the single biggest achievement in the road to AI, and the media has jumped on board. But what does it actually do?
Following The Script
Well, it does exactly what your phone has been doing for the last couple of decades. Predictive text is essentially technology that knows what you want to say based on your prompts – it’s prompt completion, on a small scale. ChatGPT does exactly the same
thing, albeit on a far larger scale. The true marvel behind ChatGPT is that it can generate text that reads like a human, but it is generating that text from its database – the world wide web.
It doesn’t understand that text. It doesn’t umm and ahh about what response is best. ChatGPT can offer automated translation and text generation, but it has no conscious understanding of the words themselves. In this way, they’re no different from any other
computer tool that is used to analyse and classify data.
The Pursuit For AGI
The AI that humans aim for is known as AGI – artificial intelligence with a human level of cognition – and this is something that has not been achieved yet. Certainly not with ChatGPT, which can only be described as “weak AI” – AI that can only function
within its set parameters.
AGI would exist outside of the parameters of commands. In other words, it should be intelligent. Artificially intelligent, for sure, but intelligent all the same. Indeed, the AI that humans strive for should exist not as an LLM program, but a
robotic entity that can think for itself, learn, and assist. Discovering how to achieve that is a long way in the future, and it may never even be achieved.
Understanding Sliced Bread
It’s baffling, even, that a platform like ChatGPT has caused such an explosion in the first place. There are plenty of other AI technologies that could have had the same impact, but didn’t, such as the AI used in gaming and world-building. Again, this is
AI that is not at all intelligent beyond its programming. It is AI that is only intelligent in its tasks, predefined rules, patterns and programming.
So yes, the
AI Summit is a great idea in theory. It’s important. Just a little premature. You could argue that that’s a good thing, of course. After all, if AGI did take off sometime in the near future, then we’re going to need regulations. It may be better that those
regulations are discussed and actualised now, rather than scrambling them together to beat AI before the extinctionists get to it.
But in response to those excited about AI, and those who are concerned about its impact in the coming few years – conserve your energy. While ChatGPT is enormously impressive, in terms of the worldwide pursuit for true AI, it might know about sliced bread,
but it doesn’t understand it. If something we deem intelligent doesn’t understand what sliced bread is, that tells us that there’s still some way to go.