I’ve been meaning to touch on this topic for a while now. For someone who writes a lot about and makes multiple videos on the subject of artificial intelligence, it might be somewhat surprising that I haven’t talked much about ChatGPT. I promise there’s a reason for that. I don’t claim it’s a good reason, but I think it’s relevant because it has to do with perspective.
Now, I’ve been following the sudden surge in interest surrounding ChatGPT since it started making headlines. I actually became aware of it when I saw this video on YouTube from a channel called Cold Fusion. For reference, here’s the video.
From here, I started following numerous newsfeeds about ChatGPT, how it’s being used, and how people are coming to perceive it. It has been amazing to watch. I honestly can’t remember the last time a piece of software getting this much hype. And the incredible pace of user growth it’s had in the past few months is nothing short of remarkable.
People have been talking about the potential for artificial intelligence for years, myself included. But we’ve never seen that potential manifest beyond a certain point. ChatGPT has changed that because it’s a real, tangible product that ordinary people can use. For an entire generation, it’s likely to be the first interaction with an artificial intelligence that can do more than your typical virtual assistant.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this technology could change the world in profound ways. It has the potential to radically alter how we work, learn, create, and do business with one another.
At the same time, it has raised a lot of concerns and not just with respect to how it might displace large segments of the job market. There’s genuine concern it’ll facilitate cheating, help scammers, or add to ongoing issues surrounding misinformation. I think those concerns are plenty warranted.
There’s already some major concern that ChatGPT is somehow the precursor to Skynet and we’re actively creating something that will eventually turn against us. Those concerns aren’t quite as warranted.
Let’s get one thing clear. ChatGPT is not an artificial intelligence on par with Skynet or any other fictional AI we’re familiar with. That’s not how it’s programmed. It can’t become Skynet any more than your cell phone can become a dishwasher. The hardware and software just aren’t there yet.
That being said, ChatGPT is a manifestation of how far artificial intelligence has come. This isn’t something that just uses algorithms to link us to new web pages. This is a system that can actually interact with people in a way that feels familiar. Talking to ChatGPT is less like doing a web search and more like talking to another person. That person just happens to be capable of culling through massive amounts of data and presenting it in a useful, legible form.
I admit that’s not a trivial difference. I also don’t doubt that entire industries and tech companies are rightly concerned about what ChatGPT could lead to, with respect to the future of the internet. But that’s where having a balanced perspective really matters.
For me, personally, I look at ChatGPT the same way I look at the first iteration iPhone. If you get a chance, just go back and look at old videos and news stories about the first iPhone. That too was touted as something revolutionary and world-changing. And in the grand scheme of things, it was. But looking at the specs of that first model today, it’s easy to forget how long it took for that impact to take hold.
Granted, that first iPhone was a bit overhyped and most did not see the potential of this device at first. However, that potential was realized more and more over time as people began refining how they used. Then, as later models came out that improved on what the first one did, it really began to have an impact.
I wouldn’t expect ChatGPT to follow the exact same path. For one, this program was developed by a non-profit research laboratory and not some multi-billion dollar tech company. The purpose, intentions, and incentives are all very different with this technology compared to that of the iPhone.
But, like all emerging technology, there will be updates and refinements. Another version of ChatGPT is already being teased. Like the second iPhone, it promises to improve and expand on the function of the first. In time, another version will come out and another one after that. Each time, the use and utility will grow. It won’t happen all at once. It might not even be noticeable at the time. But the impact will be felt in the long run.
That’s probably the most balanced perspective I can offer for ChatGPT at the moment. I don’t doubt for a second that this perspective will change with future updates and capabilities. There’s a chance ChatGPT ends up being a popular fad that simply falls out of favor because nobody can figure out how to utilize it beyond a certain point. It could become the AI equivalent of Windows Vista.
But there’s also a chance that ChatGPT could lead to some truly unprecedented growth and change in the world of artificial intelligence. It could completely upend how we interact with technology. And ultimately, it could lead to the development of a functioning artificial general intelligence capable of matching and exceeding an average human. If that does happen and ChatGPT was the catalyst for it, then it might go down as one of humanity’s most important technological developments.
At this point, I honestly don’t know how it’ll play out. And I question anyone who claims to know. Nobody truly knew how the iPhone would change the world until that change became apparent. We probably won’t know the true extent of ChatGPT’s impact until a similar change takes hold.
Who knows what the world will be like when that time comes?
While a part of me is nervous about it, I’m also genuinely curious to see where ChatGPT will lead us,