The future is closer than it appears

By | April 26, 2023

Since the launch of ChatGPT, the world has gone bonkers over the future of humanity and artificial intelligence (AI). The narrative, the fear and the hype has reached the level of absurdity that we see whenever a pivotal technology captures public attention. I call launch of ChatGPT the ‘Netscape moment’ for AI.

I am appalled by the social role models, technology leaders, and influencers resorting to fear mongering and hype (many of these have built AI for god’s sake!) instead of bringing an objective and balanced view to the public. For me, the act of 1000 technical leaders and researchers writing an open letter to pause AI for six months was akin to the big-three from Detroit raising concerns about Tesla’s FSD (full self-driving).

If the technical leaders are so concerned about job losses, will they stop automating their factories? Will we see them ripping out the robotic assembly line and hiring humans to build cars, appliances, computers, and everything else under the Sun? Will they think before they downsize their marketing or customer support departments as they deploy generative AI and chat-bots? Numerous similar questions can be raised.

The statement – Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable – sounds kiddish at best. Give me ONE example where any technology is developed after the creators of the technology are confident that its effects will be positive and risks manageable. The open letter was just a joint pleading to give them enough time to catch up as some of them were caught off-guard.

Similar to the warning we see on the passenger side mirror of a car ‘Objects are closer than they appear in the mirror’, the following should be kept in your view field, especially those who work in technology, ‘The future is closer than it appears’. Add to it in a finer print ‘…and it may not be to your liking’. My interest and passion in AI started decades ago with sci-fi. The book Godel, Esher, Bach by Douglas Hostafter played a pivotal role in anchoring this passion. Since then, I have been constantly learning and experimenting with constantly evolving AI and wrote a series on it earlier. I have now decided to blog more about it. So, stay tuned!

More than three decades ago when I used to write for magazines, I would share my strong opinions that were usually seen as contrarian to the prevailing narrative at that moment. Needless to say, my articles never won me any popularity contest. I’m sure this blog of mine is not going to help me either. But then, ask me if I care 😊

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