When OpenAI introduced its artificial intelligence chatbot, ChatGPT3, on November 30, 2022, the value of Microsoft, one of the main investors in this artificial intelligence (AI) company, jumped by $115 billion (€108 billion), or around 6.5%. This performance did not stop French Minister for Digital Transition and Telecommunications Jean-Noël Barrot from judging this revolutionary tool to be only an “imprecise parrot.” He based this on the fact that ChatGPT’s knowledge base is limited to 2021 data.
Tech giant Google, perceiving a threat, hastened to introduce its own AI engine, Bard, on February 8. Unfortunately, the program made an error, attributing to the James Webb space telescope the first photograph taken of a planet outside the solar system. Google quickly suffered a heavy penalty, losing $100 billion in market value, or 9% of its total worth. It was certainly a steep price for something supposedly capable of only giving crude approximations.
In fact, Wall Street has grasped that a revolution is taking place. AI is having an “iPhone moment” and will shake up society the way Apple did in 2007. For months, Wall Street has not wanted anything to do with Big Tech: Amazon, Tesla, Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta, etc. They’re all past their heyday. The turnaround means that AI engines will need billions of dollars in investments, and it is the tech giants that will have the means to develop them.
This is the gist of To wall street journal op ed by former Google boss Eric Schmidt, former secretary of state (under Richard Nixon) Henry Kissinger and Massachusetts Institute of Technology College of Computing Dean Daniel Huttenlocher. They argue that the market should consist of a few large AI models – at a cost of more than a billion dollars and operated by thousands of computers – and that companies would likely subscribe to them. Naturally, “design and control of these models will be highly concentrated,” they write, predicting that because of their enormous cost, the most effective machines “may stay in the hands of a small subgroup domestically and in the control of a few superpowers internationally .” If you liked GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon), you’ll love AI, the new arena for the civilizational clash between China and the US.
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Emergence of a mystical pro-AI
Instead of ridiculous ChatGPT’s handful of amateur mistakes, Schmidt, Kissinger and Huttenlocher ask the important questions. They describe an “intellectual revolution” and a “philosophical and practical challenge” unlike any other since Gutenberg invented the printing press. This innovation enabled the emergence of the modern scientific method, which depends on the sharing of reproducible experiments. Not so AI, which produces an unsourced result from the billions of unverified data gathered from across the planet. “Enlightenment science accumulated certainties; the new AI generates cumulative ambiguities,” the authors write.
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