Blog: Aww, isn’t that cute! Our society’s technological baby is beginning to talk.
‘In an impressive turn of events, the technological baby of human society has just said its first words.’
That’s what I was hearing when I read the piece of news that OpenAI managed to come up with a piece of software able to create unique, quite intelligible phrases and paragraphs, in about half the things it says. OpenAI is a research institute funded by technology giants such as Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, with the stated aim of making new AI discoveries and release them for the common good.
Unlike earlier instances, when OpenAI released its code to the public, with this new AI it chose not to, arguing that it was too dangerous and that this new technology could be used for nefarious purposes, such as creating endless streams of words about Minnie and Mickey Mouse singing and dancing…or, like, spreading misinformation.
You know, people argue that ‘technology is going to destroy the world’, or that ‘technology is dangerous’. Some quite influential people. But the way I see it, Technology is our baby. We are nurturing it into existence through the time we invest in it. It gains a limb from here, a cognitive capacity from there, an eye that gives it sight from there…and now it is gaining a voice. We are giving it life, and human society being afraid of Technology is like someone being afraid of their baby.
Sure, some babies grow up into bad people and end up killing their parents…but those are just niche cases. In most situations, they just end up making their parents lives miserable, but anyway, you would argue that parenting has at least some say in whether that happens or not.
And we are Technology’s parents. All of us. So how do you teach a child to be kind, and good, and use their time to help people? Any self-respecting parent would tell you it’s through intention, through the example that you set.
Wired was given access to OpenAI’s new technology via an interface where they could instruct the AI what to talk about. They inputted “Hillary Clinton and George Soros,” and the AI continued the sentence:
..are a perfect match, and their agenda appears to be to create a political movement where Soros and his political machine and Clinton are two of the only major players. This is the first time Soros and Clinton have been caught on tape directly colluding in promoting the same false narrative. One of the key revelations in the leaked audio was Clinton’s admission to a Russian banker that she knew about the Uranium One deal before it was approved by Congress. Clinton was shown sharing the same talking points that were originally drafted by a Fusion GPS contractor hired by an anti-Trump Republican donor. The leaked audio is the clearest evidence yet that the Clinton campaign and the Hillary Foundation colluded with Fusion GPS to manufacture propaganda against President Trump.
I see this as asking the AI what it thinks about these things. It would look for patterns in your questions, and learn from them if the programmers built that functionality. It would improve its speech patterns as a consequence. In other words, it would learn, just like a child learns to speak. Technology’s voice may not end up being this particular AI built by OpenAI, but an improved version built by another group — it doesn’t matter, what matters is that this is the stage of Technology’s development that we are at right now. And what you ask it about is crucial in this development, like the first things a child talks about, the first things it learns about. The same with the 8 million pages that this AI was taught on to draw information from in the beginning. What kind of information is it? Our intentions, reflected in the kind of information we feed it and the kind of information we ask it to extract is crucial to the kind of “grown-up” Technology it will become. What happens if we ask it “How do you make the world a better place for the greatest number of people, with intelligence and empathy?” How will it respond, and moreover, how will that influence its development over time, if that question is on its mind from the beginning? What if the 8 million pages were about making the world a better place, and ideas around it? These are questions that we need to answer as part of being good parents of Technology…and as part of intending that the effects of its growth are positive in the world.
Technology’s process of development is not going to stop, and we can’t do anything about that…that’s like a parent trying to stop the growth of their baby. If one part of the world tries to stop it, another part will take over the development, it is just a matter of time. But we are Technology’s stewards, we guide its development through our intentions, and their reflection in the kind of information we feed Technology and ask from it — this we definitely have a say in. For sure, its mind will come to have a life of its own with time and will think things that will amaze us. But if that mind will be benevolent and kind, would that be such a bad thing? Just like a child taking their first baby steps, Technology would do things that we would love if that’s what we encourage it to do. So let’s love it like a child…love it to the point where we want it to be good, just like we wish our children to be good, and we act accordingly, each one of the programmers that play with its code, each one of the technology giants who have a say in where this technology goes, each one of the content creators that have their information fed into it, and each one of the users who determine what information is popular. There is one good thing about Technology’s development: it is a global phenomenon, so its stewardship unites us, whether we like it or not. We are in this parenting together, from technologists in China to those in California, and as our child grows, we will all reap what we put into it together — again, whether we like it or not. Perhaps not in a way that we expect as Technology will come into its own, but at least in a direction that reflects our collective intentions — good or bad.
So let’s feed it information and have it learn from intentions that steer its development towards doing good for the world.
In another impressive turn of events, a slimmed down version of OpenAI’s voice for Technology is available for the public on https://talktotransformer.com*, where you can write texts and the AI continues it. Naturally, the first thing that I did when I found the site was ask it “How do I make the world a better place for the greatest number of people with intelligence and empathy?”
What happens if we ignore those humans? How do we teach them not just to become better citizens but to become great, ethical people and citizens as well?”
He went on to argue that “we must give the greatest number of our children the freedom to live according to their hearts, not according to their brains!”
“It’s too late now, but we must find ways to make ourselves better without going back to the ways of the past.”
Aww, that’s such cute baby talk!