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ChatGPT, what isn’t it good for?

There’s a weird little revolution going on in AI right now. Contrary to the clickbait floating around on Twitter and the internet at large, it’s not coming for your head.

In November 2022, a company called OpenAI released the AI-based chatbot “ChatGPT” into the world. ChatGPT is based on OpenAI’s GPT-3 (“Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3”) language model. But before we get into all that, we need to go back to basics.

Let’s start with AI itself. AI is all about getting a computer to do things we ordinarily associate with people doing. For instance, have you ever used Optical Character Recognition (“OCR”), say, to convert a PDF into Word? That’s AI. Have you ever used a computer model to analyze weather data to predict the best time to plant your soybean crop? No? Okay. Well, that’s AI too.

But where AI’s gotten particularly impressive in recent years is in an area known as natural language processing, or “NLP.” To summarize this incredibly sophisticated and informationally dense field in a sentence: they’re teaching computers to talk. Well, “talk.” Whether it’s voice or text, the goal of NLP is to create machine systems which can understand and respond to verbal or written text in substantially the same way in which a human would. It’s intense stuff.

So, enter: OpenAI. OpenAI isn’t your typical company, even by Bay Area / Silicon Valley standards. It was founded in 2015 (relatively new); it counts Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman among its founders (supergroup?); and it’s not out simply to make as much money as possible for shareholders (interesting, if true). There’s two sides to it: a non-profit research lab, and a for-profit limited partnership. Finally, there’s a mission: “to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.” Ok.

So, now we get to GPT-3, the language model that underpins ChatGPT. Released in 2020, GPT-3 represents the cutting edge of text-generating AI. It’s so cutting-edge, in fact, that Microsoft acquired exclusive rights to use the underlying model shortly after its release. Sorry, what? Where’d the “Open” in OpenAI go? As you might expect, this pissed some people off.

But, of course, tech development costs money. And it’s not just virtual machines / server time, either. In AI, it’s ironically the human capital that’s eye-poppingly expensive. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this:

Source: | Accessed 30 January 2023





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Rex Chatterjee

Rex is a lawyer and risk analyst living and working in Brooklyn, New York.

For the past 20 years, Rex has been a keen observer of and commentator on a wide range of news items and current events. Rex’s interests span the breadth of business and finance, technology and innovation, and conflict and global affairs, among others.

In addition to writing and producing the Noisecutter newsletter and podcast, Rex interviews creators, founders and business leaders for his other podcast, Roadmap Zero.

Rex maintains a private law practice, Chatterjee Legal, which focuses on the needs of startups and other innovation-driven businesses. He also serves as the managing principal of Titan Grey, a risk management consulting firm.

Rex is a graduate of Cornell University and Columbia Law School.

Rex Chatterjee




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