The latest in the seemingly never-ending wave of AI chatbot-related news is Google’s announcement of Bard, the tech giant’s own artificial intelligence chatbot to rival ChatGPT. Google’s version will be much the same as the Microsoft-backed equivalent but represents an irrevocable step towards a certified AI arms race. Stocks are soaring, user numbers are rising, and hysteria is mounting. But what does it all mean?
Naturally, much of the hype around these technologies is over-inflated. Although hoping to ride on the coattails of ChatGPT’s success, Google has already seen shares plummet after Bard was advertised to answer a question incorrectly.
Perceived successes and failures aside, if the last few weeks taught us anything, it's that the dawn of AI is closer than we think. And while ChatGPT represents a powerful instance of consumer-ready AI, it’s truly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AI capabilities.
AI behind the scenes of various industries
What makes ChatGPT so popular is that it’s a neatly packaged, vastly powerful tool capable of engaging an enormous audience. But various industries – from finance to genomics to mental health – are stretching the capabilities of AI far beyond that of ChatGPT.
Financial organizations were some of the first adopters of relational databases and mainframe computers. Today, these same organizations are using AI to solve problems by boosting efficiency. Fintech has pioneered the use of AI to transform banking, but traditional services are also catching on, with AI conversational interfaces being leveraged across the entirety of the sector.
Within healthcare, AI is transforming numerous subsectors. Natural language processing software is being used by well-being apps to identify symptoms and provide a course of action based on its findings. Clinical psychologists are using machine learning tools to help predict the risk of a particular illness, or to aggregate data making it easier to manage. In the future, the possibilities will only expand.
Many are describing manufacturing as entering the fourth industrial revolution. While the first industrial revolution was characterized by mechanization, the second by electricity, and the third by digitalization – the fourth is characterized by smart technology, machine learning, and the Internet of Things.
Whatever the domain, it’s evident that ChatGPT is just one rather limited example of what artificial intelligence can do.
The problem with super-powerful AI
“With great power, comes great responsibility,” is a well-worn expression, but for good reason. ChatGPT has been flexing its muscles in recent weeks, to the hoots and roars of a record-breaking 100 million people (and that’s just in the first month of 2023). It’s clear that users are impressed by the chatbot’s ability to trawl through vast amounts of data to provide clever and detailed responses, but the question of privacy seldom factors into the hype.
AI already generates huge data concerns. Machine learning tools feed off data – it’s how the tools “learn” and become intelligent. The more data it receives, the more comprehensive the responses can become. ChatGPT has been fed by the internet. Social media posts, blogs, and articles have all been used to inform the tool’s responses. But who gave permission for our data to be used in this way? How exactly is it being used? And is it possible to remove our personal data from the chatbot’s system if it has already “learned” from our information?
Other industries are considering data concerns in their use of AI. Healthcare providers are working to increase data security by enhancing offline storage, securing biomedical devices, and training their users on data compliance. As it stands, public-use AI chatbots have not been subject to the same rigor. And as the amount of available data increases by the minute, the technology becomes more complex. This is making the privacy issue all the more urgent.
Outside of personal privacy issues, it’s also become clear that AI chatbots can’t differentiate between copyrighted texts. The Conversation reported that ChatGPT produced the first page of Peter Carey’s copyrighted novel “True History of the Kelly Gang”, which puts users at risk of similar plagiarism.
A host of unanswered questions regarding the data compliance of AI chatbots remain. But as laws change and technology evolves, the issue will grow in severity, making it something companies must reckon with.
Interest and investments are peaking
Predictably, that last few weeks have generated considerable buzz for AI-related stocks. After the Bard’s very public error, Microsoft remains the frontrunner in this space, and stocks are climbing. AI has captured the public’s attention in a way that feels immediate and tangible.
The hype is also shining a spotlight on the potential for AI to transform businesses. Industries are also showing interest in investing in AI technology. Automated customer interactions, improved personalized shopping experiences, data mining, real-time assistance, and outcome predictions are just a few of the ways artificial intelligence can transform business. The technology has been shown to improve productivity by up to 40%.
Compared to the past decade, research in AI has increased. Europe and China were doing much of the research in AI technology and saw the biggest output. Image recognition, language translation and object recognition are areas that are receiving laser focus, with ML being the most popular area.
It’s clear that the age of AI is upon us. As the tech giants gather their forces to battle it out for the leading market position, rapid technological evolution will continue. If privacy issues can be addressed, and businesses focus on the quality of their output, AI chatbots could match the level of internet hype. But until then, it seems there are gaping holes in the master plan.
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