Tag Archive: society

AI beyond the hype

AI has become the latest and biggest buzzword since the release of GPT 3.5.

This has inevitably created a hype that will eventually lead to some disappointment, given that most companies, both old and new, are rushing to ride the wave of AI to make a quick buck. All you need is a half-baked idea, a demo running as a wrapper around OpenAI's API, and the ear of an investor.

There is also considerable hype regarding the immediate effects of AI on the job market. Current AI is changing things, but humans are still needed in one way or another. It will take more time to reach the point where human work becomes obsolete and optional.

Putting the hype aside, there is something more important and more fundamental to consider beyond the commercial aspect of AI: the relatively simple structure of neural networks that can give rise to intelligence as we know it.

Humans have always fantasized about alternative life forms, perhaps somewhere outside our planet. However, life as we know it is extremely complex and requires a chain of fortuitous events, spanning millions or billions of years, to evolve from simple molecules to complex organisms.

We've also been assuming that intelligence is a property that derives from life, and finding intelligent life forms would mean we'd have to first find life, and then intelligent life on top of that. This notion is now challenged.

Artificial Neural Networks demonstrate that intelligence requires a relatively simple structure that doesn't need to be organic. Granted, today's LLMs (Large Language Models) are not self-sustaining, self-evolving, and self-replicating entities, but it's clear that those properties are likely to follow. We can already see hints of this with agent-based systems that rely on LLMs to go beyond the capacity of a single inference cycle (inputs -> model -> outputs).

Gone are all the theories about the soul, consciousness, and even quantum effects on neurons. We are now very close to creating entities that can think, learn, and evolve, and we can do so with a relatively simple structure.

In conclusion, I have no doubt that the commercial aspects of AI are being overhyped. However, it would be a waste to focus purely on that aspect, without considering the deeper significance that this holds... we have distilled intelligence, and it didn't require a magic formula or a metaphysical event to do so.

Somewhere in the universe, there may be other "engineer types" that have been forged from energy applied to structures like some form of crystals, or maybe some kind of fluid with enough mechanical properties to form and sustain a network of connections with its bits of memory and its processing units.

This would be an exciting prospect because it would mean that intelligence is less rare than we thought, given that it wouldn't require the complicated, long chain of events that life as we know it requires.

The irony of LLM hallucinations

The advent of LLMs (Large Language Models) has been nothing short of revolutionary. Building intelligence from text (and code), is something that I didn't think would be likely. One may argue about the essence of it, but the result is undeniable, and it's only a start.

We now have a seed of alien intelligence, and it's something that is improving possibly at an exponential rate. This is the real deal, but it comes with some flaws.
One common complaint about LLMs is that of the "hallucinations" that they can produce. An hallucination in this context is generated information that is patently untrue, presented without any hesitation. It's a kind of delivery that our human brain finds uncharacteristic of an intelligent being.

This is something that I think it's probably already fixable (see my ChatAI project) with some forms of cross-referencing, and it's not yet deployed due to resources required. I don't consider this to be a major issue for the future, but it's something that got me thinking...

I think that it's ironic how quickly we point the finger at the flaws of these systems, while at the same time we're so inherently flawed to such a depth that we don't yet fully realize it. As AI will improve, this will become more evident, and at some point we'll have to do some introspection and see if we can afford to go on as we have had so far.

Humans live in a bubble of total delusion, both at the individual and at the mass level. Our delusion is not simply an existential one, which would be a noble thing, but it's lower level than that: we lie to ourselves and to others on a constant basis due to tribalism and indoctrination that we receive from the day that we're born.

School, corporations, governments, religious groups, politicians, journalists, experts, scholars, you name it. There's a constant stream of delusional, selfish, malicious or clueless people that poison the well at the higher level, constantly crippling society.
Corruption, thirst for power, idealism, anything for which "the end justifies the means" is usually a sign that something is rotten and is going to hold back progress.

Perhaps we thought that in the information age things would get better, but what we got is information overload, and most of it is biased and purposely given to us to steer us in one direction or another.
The information age clearly didn't bring the sort of enlightenment that we may have hoped for, but perhaps the AI models (especially the open sourced ones) will start to help the individual to deal with the problem of information overload that has been crippling us.

Regardless, I think that we should be more humble when we criticize the flaws of the current AI models, and take that a as jumping point to do a little more introspection and realize how much we can and should improve ourselves.

I know that AI will improve. The question is whether we will improve as well.