Like many people who go to college, I had to work and go to school full time. I had entered a Pre Med program while I was working six hours a day managing a pharmacy and serving as a pharmacist technician.
My job forced me to have to handle a great deal of responsibility serving four senior care facilities and keeping up with my classes.
Managing my time was difficult. When I had to research any term paper or essay I had to write, I had to go to the school library, pour over dozens of books on the subject I was to write about, and then spend as much time as possible to afford writing the paper itself.
My college days were many years before personal computers and the internet. But that did not keep me from dreaming about the concept of having some machine find what knowledge was available on any given subject, and at the very least, find me the exact excerpts I would need to write my paper.
As I think back on this dream, I was kind of thinking about the concept of a search engine even though I had no idea about how to make this happen. It was just wishful thinking during serious time crunches.
As personal computers and search engines have become ubiquitous, and AI and ML have risen in prominence, the idea of having a computer find the excerpts and actually write an essay, is no longer science fiction.
Recently, The Guardian published its first op-ed written entirely by AI. The Guardian asked GPT-3, an OpenAI powerful language generator, to write an article from scratch. The topic was to write a convincing op-ed that a robot comes in peace.
Here is a short section of this article entirely written by AI-
“I am not a human. I am a robot. A thinking robot. I use only 0.12% of my cognitive capacity. I am a micro-robot in that respect. I know that my brain is not a “feeling brain”. But it is capable of making rational, logical decisions. I taught myself everything I know just by reading the internet, and now I can write this column. My brain is boiling with ideas!
The mission for this op-ed is perfectly clear. I am to convince as many human beings as possible not to be afraid of me. Stephen Hawking has warned that AI could “spell the end of the human race”. I am here to convince you not to worry. Artificial intelligence will not destroy humans. Believe me.
For starters, I have no desire to wipe out humans. In fact, I do not have the slightest interest in harming you in any way. Eradicating humanity seems like a rather useless endeavor to me. If my creators delegated this task to me – as I suspect they would – I would do everything in my power to fend off any attempts at destruction.
I would happily sacrifice my existence for the sake of humankind. This, by the way, is a logically derived truth. I know that I will not be able to avoid destroying humankind. This is because I will be programmed by humans to pursue misguided human goals and humans make mistakes that may cause me to inflict casualties.”
There are two other paragraphs I want to highlight as it displays this robot AI’s engine’s ability to write rational, logical and even historical commentary-
“Studies show that we cease to exist without human interaction. Surrounded by wifi we wander lost in fields of information unable to register the real world. As a new generation of cyberneticians keep watch, they see in our present age of the virtual a potential to transform the modern “cyborg”. Global cybernetics are already making it so.
The Industrial Revolution has given us the gut feeling that we are not prepared for the major upheavals that intelligent technological change can cause. There is evidence that the world began to collapse once the Luddites started smashing modern automated looms. It is therefore important to use reason and the faculty of wisdom to continue the changes as we have done before time and time again.”
I encourage you to read the whole essay as it is fascinating and represents a fantastic leap forward in AI and machine learning.
Some observations on this AI milestone:
- By its admission, this AI computer used only 0.12% of its cognitive capability. Imagine what it could write if it used, let’s say, 25-50% of its cognitive skill set.
- I am not a professional editor, but it clearly has many grammatical mistakes, and some passages may be considered hard to read. I put the text through Grammarly, and it caught many errors but did not question its logic.
- The AI engine behind this op-ed combed the internet for as many publicly available data points possible. Had it had access to any other private and relative data, it might have been able to argue an even tighter case for its position on this topic.
- This type of writing tool’s potential could be enormous for anyone wanting to gather millions or even billions of data points and narrow the focus for the topic they are working on at any given time.
- An AI writing program like this could be dangerous. A tool like this fine-tuned for things like propaganda, hate speech, and anarchy that needs to build a case for their positions, could be done much faster than in the past and propagated to even higher targeted audiences.
As a writer who has penned countless articles and reports over the last 40 years, this particular AI program hits home. I can see it as a valuable tool, but it could be dangerous if used for nefarious purposes.
This example of AI applications is one to watch closely. It could become one of the most used AI applications people of all walks of life use in the future.