Every few years, something really “new” comes along, sneaking into our vocabularies and our way of interacting with money. Then suddenly, it reaches a tipping point and becomes ubiquitous. I like to keep an eye out for those life-changing opportunities, which mostly revolve around technology.
Change is inevitable, and it’s up to us to make the choice of whether to embrace it or try to ignore it.
For example, today almost everyone’s texting, though they would rather hear from their children and grandchildren on the phone. And we’ve all learned Face-timing, and Zooming and how to stream movies on Netflix. You don’t dial 411 for “information;” you search on Google. It is the “brain” of the universe.
Technology has revolutionized personal finances from online bill payment to online trading. A personal money tracking and budget program like Quicken was shocking at first on your computer. Now it’s on your phone through Mint. It was once astounding to extract cash from a machine that was not even inside a bank.
I remember. I did television reports and newspaper columns on all of those events that are now part of our everyday life.
So, with that as a precedent, I now introduce you to ChatGPT and OpenAI. Just drop those buzzwords at dinner tonight! AI stands for “artificial intelligence.” Yes, it conjures up sci-fi movies about robots taking over the world. And we are definitely getting closer.
According to the Oxford dictionary (Google it) artificial intelligence is “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
We already interact with artificial intelligence in our daily lives, likely without recognizing it. Alexa and Siri use artificial intelligence to serve us, as does our Nest thermostat. And AI is there when you’ve been shopping on Amazon for shoes, move on to a news site for headlines – and suddenly ads for the shoes you were admiring pop up on your screen! Like it or not, AI is deeply in our lives forever.
In all the above examples, AI is a tool that we, the user, control. But as in science fiction, AI is moving on, becoming more independent – and able to communicate with us because it has “learned” so much about our behavior patterns, ways of thinking, and has access to all the knowledge in the universe. It’s a concept both powerful and scary, but absolutely inevitable.
Now comes a company called OpenAI. Here’s how they describe themselves: “OpenAI is an AI research and deployment company. Our mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.” If you want to delve deeper into what they are doing, spend a few minutes watching the video on the home page of OpenAI.com.
I’m skipping a few steps here, but it’s time to introduce ChatGPT – a “product” created by OpenAI. Those initials stand for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. It’s a “chatbot” that can generate realistic, human-like text gained from its access to a vast trove of learned intelligence.
In other words, this allows a “bot” to have a real, interactive conversation with you, the user! You may never know you’re not talking to a human being. Or the “conversation” can be in writing on your computer screen.
The AI bot can recognize languages, accents, and idioms – responding “intelligently” to what you have to say. One early use, for example, is in fast-food drive-throughs – where it takes your order, repeats it (no onions on that burger!) and then enters it into the restaurant order system.
And there is even an ETF (exchange traded fund) AI Powered Equity ETF (ticker AIEQ), that so far in 2023 has outperformed the stockmarket using IBM Corp.’s Watson platform to assess more than 6,000 US publicly traded companies each day, scraping regulatory filings, news stories, management profiles, sentiment gauges, financial models, valuations and more to make investing decisions.
Some universities no longer use written essay exams, because a user’s simple query to the ChatGPT bot could generate an entire answer in well-phrased English. Unlike plagiarism, which can be detected by computer programs, this is AI original “creation” of content.
And AI is not limited to organizing intelligent verbal communication. It can use images as well, searching archives that reflect not only designs and pictures, but actually developing new “art” based on previous well-known art in the public domain. It’s causing great consternation among artists.
The one area where AI is currently lagging is mathematics. It hasn’t yet advanced to the stage of calculus, often giving wrong answers according to reports. (That last point made me smile, remembering my long-ago troubles in advanced algebra!)
As you might imagine, the possibilities for evil as well as the betterment of society are endless. Forget about fake accounts on Twitter, or disinformation on Facebook. Maybe the robots are going to take over the world. That’s the Savage Truth.