If AI is the new crypto craze then we should’ve learned our lesson by now, right?

If you’re one of the people who recently heard of, tried, and is baffled by ChatGPT, then you probably fall under one of the following categories:

  1. Amazed and interested
  2. Surprised but that’s it
  3. Okay, so what?
  4. How can I make this work for me?

Now, this should look familiar because these four categories are very similar to what we saw when crypto was booming.

Many took the opportunity to make a quick fortune but quickly realise that it wasn’t as easy as it seemed, and they probably fell for the trap of optimistic outlooks.

The more sceptical ones took their time and played it carefully, whether they won or not is still to be seen.

Lastly, there are others who simply don’t care enough to want to know.

Regardless, this whole focus on ChatGPT and AI, in general, is indicative of the kind of technological learning phase we’re in, and if there’s anything to be learned, is that we can all be very gullible.

Hence, the parallels between crypto and ChatGPT (or AI), and why we should understand the AI landscape first, their pros and cons, and how video games can help us avoid the perils of our naivety. 

Before we even attempt to dive into ChatGPT and what AI has in store for us, I think it’s paramount we understand what it actually is and why it’s so incredible.

First, while ChatGPT and GPT-3 are Artificial Intelligence Programs, they specifically use natural language processing to generate the text we see and make it look natural in their response.

This essentially means that they are trained on how to receive input and churn out a response that we know as ‘language’.

Basically, it’s almost like teaching a baby how to understand our native tongue, think of what we’re saying and formulate an appropriate response, except this time we are replacing a baby with a machine that we have to code ourselves. 

If that doesn’t give you “Tabula Rasa” vibes, then I don’t know what will.

This may sound like a lot of work but look at it this way, we only need to code one program and we can use it in a multitude of roles and places, effectively replacing the need to train children in schools.

However, this is where the caution arises and where we have to be absolutely careful about how our excitement can lead to disastrous results.

Just because this technology is amazing in the sense that it can automate our work and churn out answers like a smart person doesn’t mean that it is ready for that task.

A graph by Sequoia Capital of the AI landscape

Yes, there is a range of uses for AI and if you look at the graph at Sequoia Capital made on the current AI landscape, you realise that this isn’t a new phenomenon and it has been in the making for quite some time, and that ChatGPT and GPT-3 have stronger, more capable alternatives like Bloom, LaMDA and the Megatron – Turing NLG (the soundest cooling program in my opinion).

I mean, think about it, AI generating art, code, websites and even speech and videos? That’s amazing but the technology is still young, just like cryptocurrency. 

The parallels are clear, they are both young but very prospective and innovative in our ever-transforming world of digitisation.

Anything that can automate and make our lives easier and much more relaxing, or make us a boatload of money, is bound to get our attention.

Look at the sudden crypto boom, for example, the technology of blockchain was revolutionary in the finance and banking sector with probable prospects in other sectors like logistics, healthcare and education, and yet people only hyped the money-making aspects of crypto instead.

We’ve seen people taking out loans and savings just to invest in projects that may not even succeed, in projects that they barely researched or understand, only to see it all disappear and call it a scam. 

It can happen to AI and the new boom too, and I predict that this will be even more chaotic given that it incorporates both the ability to automate tasks in our lives and potentially make us money.

Thus, I propose that we explore the pros and cons of AI programs first and understand why AI can be helpful but we also need to be significantly more cautious in how we use, incorporate and celebrate this new technology in our lives. 

Master Chief and Cortana

Let’s start with the pros first and before we move on, I would like to start introducing an analogy that would help us understand this whole AI business better.

Please welcome my favourite super soldier, Master Chief, and his AI companion, Cortana (no, not the same Cortana from Microsoft).

For the uninitiated, Master Chief (he’s the green one above) is a super soldier from the Halo series that wears a highly advanced and sophisticated armour that is coupled with an AI chip and program called Cortana. 

Alright, now the first Pro is very obvious, AIs help us increase our efficiency.

Understand that, while our brains are incredible and we have yet to explore their full potential, they can only do and handle so much information at any given time.

AIs, on the other hand, have been trained and designed to process a lot (and I mean a lot) of information at a time.

GPT-3 alone has about 175 BILLION parameters (parameters are the values that can be changed to optimise the performance of the AI, so the more parameters, the better the performance), while Bloom has 176 Billion.

Can you imagine the sheer amount of information they possess? It’s literally a talking Wikipedia and anything you need to know, they know it and can tell you about it in natural language form.

In essence, they speak to you with the information you need without you going out to search for it on your own.

So if you can process large amounts of data quickly and accurately, you can make decisions so much faster and overall, improving your productivity.

Put this into our real world, and you realise why ChatGPT is popular; college kids can find answers to their essays and homework without putting in too much effort.

The possibilities to this are endless though, you can apply this to healthcare and customer service, quickly diagnosing the problems to churn out an answer.

It’s also why Master Chief, and all the other super soldiers, are so deadly.

Their AI is capable of generating and feeding them information in an easy, understandable human language form that they are free to focus on eliminating their enemies. 

The second pro is more of a double-edged sword and will serve as the smooth transition to the cons after this, and it’s simply that AI can reduce cost.

We’re already seeing a down-sized, dumber version of this happening in workplaces, where machines, robots and algorithms are replacing manual labour in factories and offices.

From a business point of view, this is fantastic because I don’t have to pay labour costs anymore, and I only have to rely on one AI to automate, dare I say, even manage certain parts of work without the need for an actual manager.

Most unaffected workers, or even the ones that introduced the new AI replacement initiative, may rejoice since the company now has added funds to raise their wages or have a bigger bonus payout (this is if you believe in the trickle-down economy system).

Don’t get me wrong, while it is sad that people lose their jobs, we should still celebrate the fact that we have the opportunity to revolutionise work and how we value time and efficiency over hard labour, and also see it as a shift in the workplace dynamic in which upskilling is key.

And no, I don’t have a Master Chief reference here but in case you don’t know, the organisation that he works for actually employs AI as personal secretaries to generals and they seem to do a much better job at cutting manpower cost. 

The sad part of AI and our first Con is that we no longer have that special human touch anymore.

I can even argue that replacing humans in customer service with AIs will make for an even more divided, thankless and distrustful society because we have effectively removed the ability to empathise with the other person in the end.

Speaking to a robot doesn’t quite give the same level of patience and understanding as speaking to a human because we expect, no, demand the AI be faster and more accurate.

Even if they are, we are not inclined to thank them, nor are we inclined to understand them.

Eventually, we lose our ability to have a sensitive, impactful and even thoughtful discussion as we expect too much from this automated industry, and in fact, we’re seeing some of that now.

Thus, as a society, we should ask ourselves what we value more. Our humanity or our comfort?

I guess we have to remember this, in our pursuit of comfort in crypto, we lost sight of rational decision-making and dumped everything we had without caution, and when we lost, we were furious at our own faults.

That’s not a good way to live.

What about our dear Master Chief and Cortana? Well, Cortana was so human-like that she made Master Chief more of a human and less of a machine.

Humans make us humans, or at least the aspects that make us human, which are our emotions, make us human. 

The second con is the potential for errors. Cortana was never perfect in the sense that she was modelled after a human, by a human, for humans, and that’s essentially the issue.

AIs are prone to making mistakes and giving out wrong or incomplete information, either due to programming errors, incorrect data, or even just the limitations of their code altogether.

We all know what happens when wrong information and decisions are made, and have felt the consequences, and we can only imagine the impact this can have if we rely on them in vital industries like healthcare, arms and logistics.

Some consequences are bigger than others, and this is why we cannot trust AI more than we trust humans.

If the point isn’t clear by now, we simply have to remember that, while their parameters and programming are superior to the human mind, they were still made by the human mind and will never be perfect because we aren’t perfect either.

So why should we expect them to be flawless? College Kids and others looking for AI to do their jobs, take this as a warning you need to study and use them closely. 

Cortana fans can probably use this to understand why she went mad and why a super soldier probably shouldn’t rely on her too much.

She was made to be imperfect, to reflect that humans have limitations and that should be seen in our AIs.

It sounds counter-intuitive to think that but it makes sense, if we make the perfect AI, we risk losing our humanity altogether by removing the need to ever interact with people. 

Hence, my last con: overreliance. It brings comfort, it’s what we want and why we work but it’s not right.

If we only work for money, we are unhappy drones and if we rely on something too much, we grow complacent and incompetent over time.

If we replace our work and life with AI, we slowly lose our ability to think since we replace even the most basic of tasks.

Expanding on this point, if we let AI do everything for us, when will we ever use our brains to solve our own problems? It is our ability to solve problems, and interact with new information and situations, that allow us to think critically and grow.

Otherwise, we’re just going to regress into those people in Wall-E, where they just sit around in chairs watching TV, we will just be trapped in our own little box with no opportunities for creativity, accountability and meaning. We would just be drones. 

I think to conclude, I want to clarify why I put more cons than pros even though I praised this technology in some parts.

To be absolutely clear, I am not saying that AI, and by extension, blockchain, is bad and we should avoid it.

What I am saying is that both of these technologies are potential game changers for us and integrating them into our lives is inevitable but if we were to learn from our mistakes from the crypto boom, it’s that these technologies are still incredibly young and need more time to develop, as well as for us to understand where we are in their development and how we can implement them practically and, even, ethically.

We still have a lot to learn, which s why Master Chief’s tale serves more of a parable of AI, with our reliance and connection with them being at the crux of the tale.

Master Chief, we, and others will use them but until we understand our limitations and their power, we should approach AI like how we approach a new species, with caution and excitement. 

Before I end, I also want us to think about what would happen if we were to abuse, hype and rush into this the same way we did to crypto.

A little thought experiment.

First, ChatGPT will open the conversation on AI and introduce other AIs like Dall-E, we start seeing the different uses and potential of ChatGPT, and maybe even see other AIs like Dawn AI or Dall-E for art.

Next, we slowly start seeing the potential abuses for it to make a quick buck or things that may not be morally just (but this is still good because it opens the much-needed conversation on limits).

This slowly evolves into how AI can be a danger to certain sectors in society, like replacing people and automating their jobs, and maybe introducing how governments are not ready for it (we saw the same with the pandemic and crypto).

In fact, certain artists in the art community are slowly speaking up against this new ‘threat’ and how it undermines the scores of hard work, time, effort and resources they use and take to create and master their craft.

It will all reach the same point as where we are currently with COVID-19 and crypto, where the attention has raised enough funding for certain projects to introduce AI into certain mainstreams and we essentially become numb and used to the fact that it exists now.

The only thing we can expect to see, if the historical trends in new technology can tell us anything, is that we will be talking about how AI will inevitably be a potential replacement for us. 

Crypto was not meant to replace money but to compliment it. Master Chief realised this, and so should we, that AI is not meant to be a replacement for humans and our skills, but rather a companion or extension of who we are. 

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