The launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 fired the starter’s pistol on the generative AI race. With AI, especially generative AI start-ups, now overtaking Web3 as the hottest sector for investors, we should expect significant implications for the world of work, education, and the search engine landscape.
Why are we talking about this now?
Interest in AI technology exploded following the public release of OpenAI’s latest ChatGPT chatbot – a Large Language Model (LLM) trained on vast amounts of text that is able to identify connections between words and predict the likelihood of a word occurring in a text, given the context of surrounding words.
What is different about ChatGPT is how easy it is to use – with 100 million users in 2 months making it the fastest-growing consumer application to date. The widespread success of ChatGPT is also drawing greater attention to other types of generative AI, including text-to-image applications such as OpenAI’s Dall-e and Stable Diffusion, which create new imagery based on text prompts.
With only hundreds of staff, OpenAI is by no means a big tech. Yet following the latest release of ChatGPT, other major tech companies were quick to respond revealing their latest offerings – with mixed success.
Notably Microsoft confirmed a substantial investment into OpenAI (16 Jan), and Google lifted the lid on Bard, its chatbot powered by its LaMDA language model (8 Feb). Baidu, which operates a search engine in China, also announced the imminent release of its own artificial intelligence bot (7 Feb).
Google’s parent Alphabet saw over $100bn wiped off its valuation after Bard, its answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, provided incorrect information in a promotional video. The irony is that only big techs – primarily Google, Microsoft and Amazon – possess the computing power to create the foundational models on which applications are based.
So despite the costly slip, Google remains one of the pioneers in developing AI science that will power the expected explosion in AI applications.
What is generative AI being used for?
The generative AI genie is now out of the bottle, so expect to see ‘AI’ powered updates to a wide range of digital services: desktop apps, mobile apps, plugins, and browser extensions. Existing tech companies are well placed to leverage their existing infrastructure and talent to integrate generative AI more widely in products that you already use.
It is important to understand that the winners of the AI age will be those directly involved in the foundational models – which require huge investment and computing infrastructure to build and operate – and are likely to become the gatekeepers to the future AI economy. This means big tech. They will license these services to developers who are increasingly offering us a range of new ‘AI’ powered services from dating app messages to homework essays.
A word of caution though. While generative AI can create value and save time, they deliver outputs based on probability, not an actual understanding. So before you get ChatGPT to write your next blog, exam response or job application, it’s wise to check it first.
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