By members of the Quest Community at the last TGS session:
Alot of things have impacted technology including the recent global pandemic which impacted almost every facet of life – technology is no exception. In fact, the spread of COVID-19 has only served to increase the pace of what was already a rapidly evolving sector and fast-tracked the move of abstract technologies into mainstream usage.
From organisations finding new ways of working and identifying the technologies that could support same, to projects exploring the utilization of block-chain in industries such as forestry and mining, this technological shift continues to drive further disruption and innovation.
There are certainly interesting times ahead and it is likely that we will see greater diversity in terms of the channels through which technology projects are being rolled out and the types of companies undertaking same.
Emerging technologies and processes, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), will be powering a lot of development within business and wider society, as the rise of decentralised working from home continues and the development of smart cities is accelerated. Things that we thought would be years down the line could, in reality, happen in a matter of months.
In fact, it’s already here!
We don’t have to look very far to find an example of a dynamic platform that has the potential to transform how we do a lot of things and is generating a great deal of hype. The GPT-3 model from OpenAI is the largest language model ever created, with almost 200 billion parameters. This system is one that could change how we write, programme software and interact with machines or devices.
One of its modes automatically generates text which is extremely convincing and human-like, bringing about the possibility of having a genuinely interesting conversation with a computer. Furthermore, when a user starts to type a sentence, the system can complete it. Similarly, a user can direct the model to complete an action, such as writing a love poem, and it produces one.
Not only does this create the potential for a completely revolutionised User Interface (UI) design, it delivers a new way of interacting with technology which is smooth, natural, and doesn’t require having an instruction manual to hand. The user simply says what they need, and the system responds accordingly.
On a larger scale, the GPT-3 model could change how we programme. As long as the concept is not too complex, there is every chance that this model could take direction from a human on what they want to programme and do it for them.
The next stage of disruption?
It is quite hard to say what is around the corner when you consider the rate at which these language models have grown in size. Earlier this year, the largest model of this nature from Microsoft had around 10 or 12 billion parameters. Within the space of half a year, that has increased tenfold. It is inevitable than bigger models will appear and will become more cost-effective. Moreover, big technology companies will produce their own versions.
Of course, a system such as this needs to be placed in capable and careful hands, otherwise it could be used for malicious purposes, or lead to a number of difficulties during production that are left unaddressed. It will take a period of experimentation for such models to be effective and reach a standard where the “generate again” button is no longer needed because the results delivered are highly accurate, relevant and reliable.
Imagine, then, if we were to put these models into robots. What if we combined the capabilities we have in terms of image and voice recognition with this type of mode? We could have robots that vacuum your floor while discussing philosophy. Further down the line, it is likely that disparate systems will be able to have conversations with each other and bridge the gap between themselves without human involvement.
The existing systems we use now will also evolve. For example, internet search engines could reach a point where they don’t provide various options for the user to choose, but rather give a definite answer to the question asked.
The truth of the matter is that the capabilities we thought were years away are actually emerging today as a result of technological advances and human behaviors, but also necessity. And these developments will have a huge and likely irreversible impact on the world.
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