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    Lightbulb We are in the AI Singularity

    We are in the AI Singularity

    If you haven't tried ChatGPT, you should consider giving it a go. Its reading-comprehension and fluency is well above average, so you won't be able to stump ChatGPT with a simple question. To be clear, it's definitely not human, and I wouldn't describe it as "intelligent", either, but there is no doubt that it has generality. It is capable of discussing any topic in a coherent and intelligible way. It may state falsehoods as fact, it can role-play (with or without telling you), and so on. It has no "beliefs", it just responds to its inputs based on its internal model. But whatever flaws and biases you may see in its training, there is no doubt that it has achieved complete generality in the field of query-response discussion.

    Here's a suggested use for ChatGPT: if you don't like reading long articles like this, just log into ChatGPT and write, "Summarize the following article in one paragraph: " and copy/paste this article after it.

    It's difficult for people outside of the specialization of computing to fully appreciate just how fast this is coming their way. Every single day, computers all around the world are running the equivalent of decades worth of virtual simulation and training models. And the rate at which this virtual digital world is moving is rapidly increasing each day. In the year 2000, the virtual world was perhaps at parity with real time... about a day of simulation per day of real time. By 2010, the virtual world was moving faster than real-time, but it was not significantly faster. It would be easy to assume that its acceleration was linear but, in fact, it has a geometric accleration rate. And that's why, from 2010 to 2020, the rate at which the virtual world is moving has gone from maybe a few weeks per day, to now decades per day. And one of the primary applications of the virtual digital world is accelerating it!

    For several decades now, the general public has been hearing astronomical numbers about silicon chip frequencies, memory densities, etc. But no matter how impressive these numbers have been in the past, the final product of such computing systems has turned out to be quite tame... certainly nothing that could rise to the level of an existential threat to humanity and the world. Toy Story was an amazing feat of technology in its day but, today, we run real-time games that have much more detail in them. In short, we've become desensitized to very large numbers; today's super-hyper-mega-computer will be tomorrow's toy-thing. So what?

    The "so what" is that there is coming a tipping-point where the virtual world will be commanding real-world resources on a scale that rivals the ordinary economy. We can already see from the enormous economic scale of Silicon Valley that technology is silently reshaping the entire global industry. At some point, technology stops being about gadgets and toys, or even advanced military capabilities, and it starts being about everything.

    I'm writing this post because, as someone who works in the high-tech industry, I don't believe that the vast majority of the public is aware of just how fast this tipping-point is coming. Even just 10 years ago, I would have thought it was several decades away, or maybe even a century. But there have been several canary-in-the-coalmine moments in the last decade. In 2016, DeepMind's AlphaGo beat Lee Sedol at the game of Go, a game long believed to be intractable for machines. Many AI researchers were taken by surprise -- and those are the people we're looking to in order to warn us about impending developments in that field! And while non-experts may see tools like Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT as merely amped-up versions of Instagram filters and joke-bots, these tools are truly revolutionary and categorically different from anything that has come before. Thanks to Stable Diffusion, digital art will never be the same. And ChatGPT is in a class of its own. It stands poised to change the whole world, almost overnight.

    That almost certainly sounds like an exaggeration to you. I assure you, it's not. Until now, AI advancements have had to squeeze through the narrow aperture of machine-coding. Tools like Python and Docker have reduced the barrier-to-entry for programming machines to do things, but it's still a specialized skill that requires a bare-minimum of a few thousand hours of learning to achieve basic competency. But ChatGPT changes all of that. The language model that ChatGPT is built on is actually trained in two layers. The first layer of training is a base model that is tuned for computer programming. This layer of the model has learned how to solve coding problems. "Sort a list of 1,000 random numbers and print the result." Things like that. But it can solve non-trivial problems, as well. This base layer gives ChatGPT some kind of elementary reasoning capability, despite the fact that its second layer is primarily trained on human text. That is, the second layer of ChatGPT is tuned for mimicking human text and speech. But the combination of its internal architecture and the sheer volume of its training data has given rise to the monster we know today as ChatGPT.

    And here is why ChatGPT changes everything:

    Prior to ChatGPT, about 2-3% of the workforce have the qualifications for software engineering, and maybe as much as 5% of the workforce is performing work related to software-development. In the US, that's 4-8 million workers. With some caveats on reliability and verifiability, ChatGPT can permit anyone to write a piece of code that performs some intended function on a computer, and the resulting code will actually run and work. There are somewhere around 1.5 billion English speakers so, if you speak English and you can fiddle with a computer, you can write functioning software code. That's an increase of 187-fold overnight. In fact, ChatGPT speaks many languages, not just English, so pretty much anyone in the world can write functioning software using ChatGPT if they can get access to it.

    "OK, but so what? Why does billions of people writing and running random software matter?" Well, it matters because it amplifies the overall feedback-loop of the virtual world -- hundreds-fold or thousands-fold overnight. So, however fast the Singularity was approaching before ChatGPT, it is now approaching hundreds or even thousands of times faster than that. Some people were saying it's a century away. If they were right, then it's now just years away. Years, not decades. Software runs at the speed of light and this is why a pocket calculator can figure out a long-division in less than 1 second that would require you 15 minutes to work out by hand. If you can even still remember how to do long-division.

    Ready or not, the AI Singularity is here. And it has a name: ChatGPT.
    Last edited by ClaytonB; 02-24-2023 at 11:26 AM.
    Jer. 11:18-20. "The Kingdom of God has come upon you." -- Matthew 12:28

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