The case for GPT-3

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

As a very rough description, think of GPT-3 as giving computers a facility with words that they have had with numbers for a long time, and with images since about 2012.

The core of GPT-3, which is a creation of OpenAI, an artificial intelligence company based in San Francisco, is a general language model designed to perform autofill. It is trained on uncategorized internet writings, and basically guesses what text ought to come next from any starting point. That may sound unglamorous, but a language model built for guessing with 175 billion parameters — 10 times more than previous competitors — is surprisingly powerful.

The eventual uses of GPT-3 are hard to predict, but it is easy to see the potential. GPT-3 can converse at a conceptual level, translate language, answer email, perform (some) programming tasks, help with medical diagnoses and, perhaps someday, serve as a therapist. It can write poetry, dialogue and stories with a surprising degree of sophistication, and it is generally good at common sense — a typical failing for many automated response systems. You can even ask it questions about God.

Imagine a Siri-like voice-activated assistant that actually did your intended bidding. It also has the potential to outperform Google for many search queries, which could give rise to a highly profitable company.

GPT-3 does not try to pass the Turing test by being indistinguishable from a human in its responses. Rather, it is built for generality and depth, even though that means it will serve up bad answers to many queries, at least in its current state. As a general philosophical principle, it accepts that being weird sometimes is a necessary part of being smart. In any case, like so many other technologies, GPT-3 has the potential to rapidly improve.

There is much more at the link.


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