Dr Abdalla Kablan: It’s time to calm down about ChatGPT

Dr Abdalla Kablan at Delta Summit.
Dr Abdalla Kablan at Delta Summit.

By Deepak Jain

Published: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 3:23 PM

Last updated: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 3:31 PM

The idea of creating an object that mimics human intelligence has been a topic that has fascinated humans, with ideas such as automatons and homunculi having existed for many years. Today, it is no different. Over the past year, the world has been captivated once again by the idea of artificial intelligence, with systems like ChatGPT and Dalle.E 2 making headline after headline.

Ever since ChatGPT went mainstream, experts and the media haven’t stopped talking about it. From warning about it being a cybersecurity threat to predicting it will be the future of learning, reactions have been mixed. However, others have taken a more sceptical approach, with people like Tyler Comrie expressing that ChatGPT is in fact, “way dumber than you think”.

This is not the first time that advances in AI have sparked discussions around the ethics, potential, and future of this technology. Over the past 30 years, this topic has surfaced time after time with events like Deep Blue’s victory over Garry Kasparov in 1996, the launch of AIBO in 1999, Google’s work on autonomous cars back in the 2010s, the boom of virtual assistants, and the development of Google’s DeepMind.

“After more than 60 years since its conceptual inception — and after too many hype-generating moments — AI is yet again making its presence felt in mainstream media,” wrote Dr Abdalla Kablan back in 2016. “Following a recent WEF report, many perceive AI as a threat to our jobs, while others even go so far as to assert that it poses a real threat to humanity itself.”

It has now been almost seven years and once again, we are talking about AI. Sure, everyone agrees that from a technical standpoint, advancements like that of OpenAI’s ChatGPT are quite impressive. However, many people seem to be overestimating its capabilities which are in fact, quite limited.

"In terms of underlying techniques, ChatGPT is not particularly innovative. It's nothing revolutionary, although that's the way it's perceived in the public”, according to Meta's chief AI scientist Yann LeCun. “It's just that, you know, it's well put together, it's nicely done. I don't want to say it's not rocket science, but it's shared, there's no secret behind it if you will,” LeCun added.

What has surprised most people about ChatGPT is the system’s ability to write coherent lines of text that can’t be distinguished from those written by a human, as well as its capability to understand user inputs. However, when it comes to putting things into perspective, ChatGPT is closer to being what experts like Dr Kablan would call an ‘Einstein’ model instead of an ‘Aristotle’ model, as it cannot understand the various facets of intelligence.

Dr Kablan, a serial tech entrepreneur, investor, and renowned technology expert, has been studying and theorising about AI systems for more than a decade and will be talking on the subject during DeepFest. During his time working with AI and machine learning, Dr Kablan has dealt with some of the biggest ethical and technical conundrums of technology, especially in the financial sector.

“We have just crossed from the information era to the knowledge era,” Dr Kablan observed.

“This is fascinating and exciting, however, there are still more steps to be taken towards achieving human-like cognition and what I like to call ‘Artificial Wisdom’,” he added.

“In general, the road towards achieving wisdom is a five-step process. You start with data, processed data becomes information, and information evolves into knowledge. Knowledge then forms into understanding, and with processing, application, and learning understanding becomes wisdom. When it comes to AI we are still in step 3, which is knowledge, and we still have a long way for machines to achieve true wisdom,” said Dr Kablan, regarding what ChatGPT and other novel AI systems could mean for the future.

The fact that ChatGPT has certainly achieved what no other AI system has achieved in the past, if not in the technical aspect at least in its presentation and accessibility, is undeniable. But as anyone who has tinkered enough with it and similar systems know, it is far from being the equivalent to human intelligence that most people seem to think it is.

Deepak Jain is a freelancer content writer.

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