Why this ChatGPT moment goes back to the original iPhone

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Exactly three weeks ago OpenAI release ChatGPT.

Since then, it’s been nearly impossible to keep up with the hyped up excitement and frowning worries around use cases for the text-generating chatbot, ranging from the fun (writing limericks and rap lyrics) to the clever (writing prompts for text-to-image generators like DALL-E and Stable Diffusion) to the dangerous (threat actors using it to generate phishing emails) and the game changer (could The entire Google search model [subscription required] be overturned?).

Is it possible to compare this moment in the evolution of generative AI to any other technological development? According to Forrester Research AI/ML analyst Rowan Curran, it is.

“The only thing I’ve been able to compare it to is the launch of the iPhone,” he told VentureBeat. Apple’s iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, but it buried the competition with its touch screen, ease of use, and the introduction of apps that put a whole computing experience in our pockets. The release of the original iPhone in January 2007, followed by the launch of the App Store in July 2008, ushered in a period of historic technological change, Curran explained, when the general public learned that there was a whole universe of creativity and applications with those who could work. .


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It made people realize “you could have this handheld computer that’s basically like [having] a Star Trek tricorder in our hand, this thing with tons of sensors and capability,” he said.

ChatGPT, like the iPhone, is changing public consciousness

ChatGPT is also changing public awareness of what is possible. But what’s happening now goes even further than that, Curran noted.

“I think what is really unique here is that we have technology that is useful today, that is advancing very quickly, and that we are all learning from in real time, both in terms of how to use it and how to prevent it from being used. . in a negative way,” he said.

ChatGPT’s release and adoption cycle has also been unique, he added. “There were a million users in the first few days or so, even if we assume a quarter of them are doubles, that’s still hundreds of thousands of human brains suddenly playing with this technology, which is very different. any other way we have released and adopted technology,” she said.

Was this a responsible way to launch ChatGPT?

While some have criticized the way OpenAI launched ChatGPT: Venture Capitalist, Economist, and MIT Fellow Paul Kedrosky recently tweeted “[S]hame at OpenAI for dropping this unrestrained pocket nuke on an unprepared society.” Curran insists that it was “probably one of the most responsible ways they could have presented this to the public.”

OpenAI’s approach to iterating on ChatGPT and showing it to people stage by stage is “a really good way to get people used to this, because otherwise everything would be done behind closed doors in a big company,” he said, noting that even for those who paid attention and weren’t wowed by ChatGPT’s capabilities, advancements are occurring at a remarkable rate.

“For the public to have gone straight to whatever comes after ChatGPT, people would lose their minds when it came up,” he said. “I think OpenAI is trying to avoid culture shock with what they are creating.”

Potential for seismic change in the company

Just as the iPhone and apps ultimately led to a revolution in all areas of the business, from software development and social media to customer service and marketing, Curran said he believes ChatGPT and other generative AI tools could have a “seismic shift” in the company. in 2023, if companies and vendors deliberate on how they adopt technology.

“If we can avoid any immediate major negative press events in the near term around this, I think the adoption will be pretty deep, because the appetite is really strong right now,” he said. “You can see the ease with which people are already integrating [generative AI] in existing working systems, with a bottom-up approach: you can see this with Shutterstock, for example, which integrated DALL-E two months ago, and now Microsoft has a beta access product called Designer, which is basically a text – Image generator integrated with PowerPoint”.

Implementation of best practices remains essential

And it doesn’t matter if it’s ChatGPT or any other generative AI capability, best practice implementation remains essential, Curran said.

“I think we’re still collectively figuring out what the exact best practices are, but there’s no reason not to keep implementing best practices to understand your vendor’s solutions: if you’re getting a large language model through a vendor, what model are they using? What were the basic training data? What is training data fine tuning? How are you auditing this model?”

In the past, he added, companies have been burned by new technologies. “We never seem to really learn that when a new technology comes along, we have to be deliberate about adopting it,” he said. “But this time, because there is so much scope for people to get involved at the grassroots level, we can get people to step up and say, okay, I want to be involved in this governance process.”

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