() — Let’s face it: For much of the last decade, tech events have been pretty boring.
Executives dressed in business casual clothes take the stage and pretend that a few tweaks to the camera and processor make this year’s phone profoundly different from last year’s model, or that adding a touchscreen to yet another product is being to the forefront
But that changed radically this week. Some of the world’s largest companies have announced major enhancements to their services, some of which are critical to our daily lives and Internet experience. In all cases, the changes are based on a new artificial intelligence technology that allows for more complex and conversational responses.
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a revamped Bing search engine that uses the capabilities of ChatGPT, the viral artificial intelligence (AI) tool created by OpenAI, a company into which Microsoft recently invested billions of dollars. Bing will not only provide a list of search results, but will also answer questions, chat with users, and generate content in response to user queries. and there is rumors of another event next month for Microsoft to demonstrate similar features in its Office products, including Word, PowerPoint and Outlook.
On Wednesday, Google held an event to detail how it plans to use similar AI technology to enable its search engine to deliver more complex, conversational responses to queries. Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Baidu also said this week they would launch their own ChatGPT-style services. And surely other companies will soon follow suit.
After years of gradual smartphone upgrades, the promise of 5G that has yet to take off, and social networks copying each other’s features until they all look the same, this week’s spate of AI-related announcements seems like a breath of fresh air. of fresh air.
Yes, there are very real concerns about the potential for this technology to spread bias and inaccurate information, as occurred in a google demo this week. And no doubt many companies are likely to introduce AI chatbots that they simply don’t need. But these features are fun, they have the potential to give us back hours a day, and perhaps most importantly, some of them are here right now to try.
Do you need to write a real estate ad or an annual review for an employee? Enter a few keywords in the ChatGPT query bar and you’ll have your first draft ready in three seconds. Want to make a quick meal plan and grocery list based on your dietary sensitivities? Bing, apparently, has you covered.
If the introduction of smartphones defined the 2000s, much of the 2010s in Silicon Valley was defined by ambitious technologies that didn’t quite arrive: self-driving vehicles tested on the roads, but not yet ready for everyday use. ; VR products that got better and cheaper but still haven’t found mass adoption; and the promise of 5G to power advanced experiences that haven’t quite come to fruition, at least not yet.
But technological change, like Ernest Hemingway’s idea of bankruptcy, has a way of coming gradually, and then suddenly. The iPhone, for example, was in development for years before Steve Jobs wowed people in 2007. Similarly, OpenAi, the company behind ChatGPT, was founded seven years ago and released an earlier version of its AI system called GPT3 in 2020.
“ChatGPT broke into the market and into people’s consciousness,” said Bern Elliot, an analyst at Gartner, “but this has been a long time in the making.”
More than that, AI systems have for years underpinned many of the features people now take for granted, from content recommendations on social media platforms and auto-complete tools in email to voice assistants. and facial recognition tools. But when ChatGPT went public in November, it brought the power of AI systems to millions of people in an entertaining and immediately understandable way. At the same time, ChatGPT made it much easier to see how far technology has come in recent years and to imagine the huge potential impact it could have across industries.
“When new generations of technologies come out, they’re often not particularly visible because they haven’t matured enough for you to do anything with them,” Elliott says. “When they’re more mature, you start to see them over time – whether it’s in an industrial setting or behind the scenes – but when it’s directly accessible to people, like with ChatGPT, that’s when there’s more public interest, quickly.”
Now that ChatGPT has gained traction and prompted large companies to implement similar features, there are concerns not only about its accuracy, but also about its impact on real people.
Some worry that it could disrupt industries and put artists, tutors, programmers, writers and journalists out of work. Others are more optimistic, saying it will allow employees to list tasks more efficiently or focus on higher-level tasks. In either case, it’s likely to force industries to evolve and change, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“New technologies always bring new risks and we as a society will have to deal with them, such as putting in place acceptable use policies and educating the general public on how to use them correctly. Guidelines will be needed,” Elliott says.
Many experts I’ve spoken to in recent weeks have compared the AI shift to the early days of the calculator and how educators and scientists once feared it could inhibit our basic math skills. The same fear existed with the spelling and grammar checking tools.
Although AI tools are still in their infancy, this week may mark the start of a new way of doing things, similar to how the iPhone changed computing and communication in June 2007. But this time it could be in browser form. bing.