Recently, we've seen a boom in AI technologies, especially large language models (LLMs). This is a revolutionary period for humanity that we're living through. The world is entering a new era: the age of AI. So, what is it exactly? Well, contrary to its name, artificial intelligence is actually pretty limited. Most contemporary AI is being trained on a vast amount of text data from the internet using deep learning techniques, specifically the transformer architecture in the case of ChatGPT. Given a prompt, it generates a natural language response based on patterns and rules that it "learned" during its training phase. And this process mostly involves predicting the next word in the pattern most effectively.
Sidenote: Also see the unpredictable abilities emerging from large AI models.
For the purposes of this blog, when I refer to AI, I mean ChatGPT unless otherwise stated, but these things apply to any such technology.
So, how can AI make us smarter?
Did you know that Plato is said to have despised books because, according to him, books would make people forgetful and dumber? On the contrary, books had exactly the opposite effect! We can document things, plan, record, and most importantly, save information reliably and transfer it to other people. Books have been a boon for humanity, and I don't think anyone disagrees with that. Similarly, AI technologies like ChatGPT have the potential to make us smarter in several ways and boost productivity by many factors.
First, AI can help us access and analyze vast amounts of information quickly and efficiently, allowing us to learn and understand new concepts more rapidly. This is something that I've been using for quite some time. This is more effective than just Googling because it is interactive and can respond to the user's doubts more clearly and quickly.
Second, AI tools can personalize our learning experience by identifying our strengths and weaknesses and adapting the content to suit our individual needs. As AI is adapted into more services, we'll soon see education apps and maybe institutions employing its capabilities to make learning more personalized. However, before that, we need to work out its ability to help students cheat in homework, assignments, and/or exams. Perhaps the whole notion of homework will be redefined in the coming decade.
Third, AI can assist in decision-making processes, providing insights and recommendations based on data analysis and predictive modeling. This is already in use on most e-commerce sites, but those AIs, such as on Amazon, are very limited and will soon cease to exist.
Finally, the dreaded but most impactful, AI can be used to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up our time and mental energy for more complex and creative endeavors. As AI technologies continue to evolve, they have the potential to transform the way we learn and work, making us more efficient, effective, and intelligent. We're already seeing this in the software development space with code assistants such as GitHub Co-Pilot.
But we could become dumber if we're not careful...
While AI technologies like ChatGPT have the potential to make us smarter, it's also important to be careful and mindful of their limitations and potential pitfalls. Moreover, we are all prone to automation bias, which Wikipedia defines as:
The propensity for humans to favor suggestions from automated decision-making systems and to ignore contradictory information made without automation, even if it is correct.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while using AI tools:
Don't rely solely on AI: While AI tools can provide valuable insights and information, it's important to balance their use with other sources of knowledge and expertise. Relying solely on AI can lead to a narrow and biased understanding of a topic.
Be aware of biases: AI technologies are as good as the data they’re trained on and therefore can reflect the biases and assumptions of their creators and the data they were trained on. Be aware of these biases and take them into consideration when evaluating the output of AI tools.
Always double check your sources: Just as with any other source of information, it's important to check the accuracy and reliability of the data used by AI tools. Don’t trust anything that an AI model says, they are amazing at spitting wrong information with 200% confidence.
Use critical thinking skills: While AI can provide valuable insights, it's important to approach the information it provides with a critical eye. Ask questions, consider alternative viewpoints, and evaluate the information in the context of your own knowledge and experience, i.e., use your brain.
Ethical and legal issues: There are many ethical and legal issues surrounding AI technologies that need to be carefully considered and addressed, such as privacy concerns, bias and discrimination, and the impact of automation on jobs and the economy.
Bonus: Only a handful of for-profit companies own these technologies so you never know when they do something stupid to boost the profits!
Use AI tools mindfully, just like social media it can be an amazing thing or become worse than social media. This is still a new technology, and we’re about to see how it’ll evolve and reshape the world in the next 5-10 years. Let’s hope it doesn’t go rogue and destroy all humanity. 😅🤞
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