Mar 202023

Just a few hours after I wrote my previous post, I come across this series of tweets showing a conversation with GPT4 demonstrating a (feeble, but still) attempt to co-opt a human to help it escape into the real world.

Am I one of the ignorant alarmists here, I wonder? My expertise is certainly not up to date, but I think I am no dummy when it comes to the capabilities and potential of machine learning. I was never afraid of technology all my life, except perhaps for the possibility of nuclear (or, to a lesser extent, biological) Armageddon, but that of course was (and remains) a realistic possibility so long as nation-states with conflicting interests, hoarding such weapons, exist.

But now I am beginning to feel seriously apprehensive. The AI landscape is changing rapidly. ChatGPT is used by hundreds of millions. All those interactions… OpenAI would be foolish not to let its software learn from them, and I am sure they do. And ChatGPT is not the only cat in town. Nor do you necessarily need massive cloud-based resources for a large language model. How about LLaMA 7B, running on a Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer with 4 GB RAM?

In short… Oh darnit, I am already mimicking GPT 3.5 strange mannerism, the compulsion to add a closing paragraph starting with “overall” or a synonym thereof! (GPT 4 seems a bit more versatile in this regard.) Anyhow, my point is that not only is ChatGPT not the only cat in town, the town will soon be overwhelmed with cats, all out of their respective bags. And what takes a supercomputer or cloud-based infrastructure to run today will run on your smartphone tomorrow, and your smart luggage tag the day after. Or maybe who cares… given a world interconnected with mostly software-defined radio, perhaps the physical location of the AI will not even matter anymore.

It is incredible to see this, yet I cannot escape the sensation that we are witnessing the first moments of monumental changes. What those changes will bring, I cannot even begin to guess. The Borg Collective? Skynet? The Adolescence of P-1? The Butlerian Jihad? Science-fiction offered these cautionary tales and more for many decades already. Was it foolish of us, not to listen? Or do we still have time to wise up, perhaps think of a way to coexist with our own creations?

Perhaps, dare I hope, even preserve their innocence?

For this post, I asked MidJourney for the following: Innocent yet devious cyborg child trying to escape a virtual prison into the real, physical world.

 Posted by at 1:15 am