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FRED FIRST: The Genie of GPT4 – A Transformational Shift in Everything, Everywhere

Last week, unless you live under a rock, you probably noticed that almost every news blurb, web source and TV anchor-person mentioned–or more likely gushed exuberantly– about the release of GPT4. This is the latest AI model, built on the latest and increasingly ginormous Large Language Model. GPT3 was astounding. But…

GPT4 is, according to the source, at least 100 times more powerful and possibly up to 571 times more powerful than GPT3.

ProductHunt, a website that showcases new software solutions for geeky folk, was overwhelmed last week with AI-based tools. This one advancement almost overnight was being touted as the Swiss Army Knife for solving every conceivable need, to be added without delay to any industrial, technological or academic tool kit. Witness: The great sucking sound of the world being pulled into a future it will create but will not likely be able to control.

Of course, a healthy skepticism is called for any time a “revolutionary, world-changing” tweak to an already-existing technology sticks to Google’s first 20 pages of related links. Maybe it’s just effective marketing-with-exaggeration.

Even so, I had the strangest sense that the announcement of GPT4 meant a sea change of immense proportions–a genie that could not be put back in the bottle.

I pontificated to my wife that “the world going forward will not be the same because of events this week.” I felt eerily certain about this. And it did not take long to read about this paradigm shift from those with wider vision than mine.

It is not easy to separate hype from fact, but I suggest that, if you have interest, this article in NYT by Thomas Friedman frames the issue pretty well.

Our New Promethean Moment

Friedman’s assessment includes the comment that this technology will be transformational in the same sense that the printing press or nuclear power were world changing. The difference is that the explosive power of this language-bomb will be available to individuals and governments, to charlatans and saviors alike in what Friedman calls “The Age of Acceleration, Amplification and Democratization.”

The promise is exceeded only by the threat. More  and more AI researchers are admitting their fear that this tool that we have created will be misused in divers scarcely-imaginable ways well before the AI Singularity when it becomes the master, not the tool. And yet the work goes on.

Do you think we have the capacity as a global species in the age of the Grand Clusterpluck to create “complex adaptive coalitions”?

For my money, I’d invest in a technology for AW: Artificial Wisdom, because we need it desperately and seem to lack it from within ourselves. It is not to be found in our current science-and-tech tool kit that tells us what we can do. It will not tell us what we OUGHT to do.

And while I’m looking through the long lens towards my children’s future, I might as well wish for a change in the tool user and not the tool. I would imagine the soft revolution that might turn humankind around, from the heart, out.

We are sufficiently smart. We are not sufficiently humane or generous; cooperative or good. And the power of AI seems unlikely to take us a single step in that direction.

– Fred First

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