ChatGPT is not AI

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Imagine someone bolting two doors and an engine onto a shopping cart and proclaiming they’ve got themselves a ‘fast car,’ absurd right? In a world where buzzwords are as ubiquitous as that one joke everyone can’t seem to miss, let’s address the latest hype on everyone’s lips: ChatGPT.

Before we start arguing about what is and what is not, let’s discuss what is; and what really is AI. AI is not a thing, it’s a broad field of study made with multiple disciplines. Now hand to heart, the subfields of AI are as varied as the number of passwords I’ve forgotten – a lot! But for the sake of progress, let’s keep it simple, we will summarize it to:

The list can grow bigger and wider depending on your level of interest.

Now our chatty grey and trusted friend uses a combination of Natural Language Processing, Expert Systems, and lots of Machine Learning.

Bear with me as we need to get technical a bit, ChatGPT is a Large Language Model (LLM) that uses a type of Machine Learning called adversarial learning (there are more types of Machine Learning than there are ways our finance minister can conjure up weird financial policies). To my wide-eyed wanderers, here is a taste:

Now, this whole deal with adversarial learning is like teaching a 5-year-old to navigate the maze of a modern grocery store. You know, the ones with many aisles, products you’ve never heard of, and signs that seem to be playing hide-and-seek. Now, the traditional way would be to hand the kid a thick rulebook with directions like, ‘First, go to aisle 3 for cereals, then to aisle 7 for snacks,’ and so on. In Machine learning we don’t do that instead, we say, ‘Imagine you’re hungry, and you need to find something tasty.’ We teach our tot to think for themselves. They can adapt, and if they spot a shortcut to the candy section, they’ll take it! No dull rules, just imaginative models that make things way more exciting.

So ‘how is this not Artificial Intelligence?’ I hear you scream. Remember we said there are many parts to the body and a couple of things don’t make it whole.

Now marketing is all about catchphrases and skirts on the grey borders of technicalities. I remember an ad for HD glasses, like spectacles you wear to see in High Definition. How? I don’t know. Here is another classic example, Google “What does 360, 480, 720, 1080 mean,” the short answer, it means the number of horizontal lines for your screen.

To call a display with 2160 lines 2K doesn’t look cool on a sticker so why not change the meaning to mean vertical line and all of a sudden it becomes 4K. These are the same folks who go around naming things.

For one, I am a purist. Just like how car enthusiasts would find it preposterous to call an engine plus 2 wheels a car, I find it weird to call a generative chatbot AI, because that is what it boils down to. Besides my otherwise personal proclivities, a more important and pressing concern; to fight myopia! People, especially the generation that is going to be around for decades to come must know there is more to AI than just a grey screen that miraculously answers all your questions, and yes it really does excel there. We are not going to talk about ChatGPT4, just 3.5 because yes, the older brother does more than just text but we live in the part of the world that the boys and girls in Silicon Valley don’t see as worthwhile for us to have access to.

Now for this part, I am going to involve us in a conversation we were not part of because as far as these developments go, we were but mere spectators. To understand where we are going (the human collective) we need to see where we started, where are we, and, cue drumroll where we are headed.

The credit for laying out these phases of AI advancement goes to some brilliant minds in the field who’ve charted this exciting journey that has been split into 3 stages

We certainly were left out on ANI; we definitely can pivot ourselves into AGI and be a part of ASI. Getting left behind is really not the brightest of ideas. The bell has been rung and can’t be unrung, this is us imploring the Zimbabwe government to look into this seriously, our future and even existence depends on it.

Worry not friend, as impressive as global milestones are, the ship has not sailed yet. And as long as you have breath in your lungs, bonds in your pocket, and redistributed land under your feet, you too can be part of this amazing journey. Now I know, Hollywood paints this picture of 15-year-old whiz kids who can hack the NSA with a calculator and you are left wanting. But fear not, there are many vocations that are available and many niches that will still need to be filled. There are numerous ways for normal human beings who don’t carry laptops to funerals can participate in the AI revolution. Some areas and roles that offer opportunities:

AI is a multidisciplinary field, and non-technical roles are just as important in ensuring its responsible and ethical development. It’s all about finding the intersection between your skills, interests, and the AI revolution.

Weirdly enough, ChatGPT itself (facepalm) and any other generative chatbot, that is to say, Google Bard. Ask questions, it doesn’t get tired, or bored, ask and re-ask and even add stuff like “in layman’s terms to your questions.” Before you know it, you will have a solid understanding of the basics. Take the next step, there are many good platforms that offer courses from the Introductory to the Advanced stage depending on your level of interest. The one thing that all this asks of you, demands of you, is your drive to learn. You are not going to buy ChatGPT ‘Coke’ and work up with a wealth of knowledge (no disrespect whatsoever meant to Delta Beverage). There is also a budding Data Science community on Twitter, don’t just use it to troll hey.

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