The Gray Lady: Calling the Winner of the AI Race

March 17, 2023

Editor’s Note: Written by a genuine dinobaby with some editorial inputs from Stephen E Arnold’s tech elves.

I love it when “real journalists” predict winners. Does anyone remember the Dewey thing? No, that’s okay. I read “How Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant Lost the AI Race.” The title reminds me of English 101 “How to” essays. (A publisher once told me that “how to” books were the most popular non fiction book type. Today the TikTok video may do the trick.)

The write up makes a case for OpenAI and ChatGPT winning the smart software race. Here’s a quote I circled:

The excitement around chatbots illustrates how Siri, Alexa and other voice assistants — which once elicited  similar enthusiasm — have squandered their lead in the A.I. race.

Squandering a lead is not exactly losing a race, at least here in Kentucky. Races can be subject to skepticism, but in the races I have watched, a horse wins, gets a ribbon, the owner receives hugs and handshakes, and publicity. Yep, publicity. Good stuff.

The write up reports or opines:

Many of the big tech companies are now racing to come up with responses to ChatGPT.

Is this me-too innovation? My thought is that the article is not a how-to; it’s an editorial opinion.

My reaction to the story is that the “winner” is the use of OpenAI type technology with a dialogue-type interface. The companies criticized for squandering a lead are not dead in their stable stall. Furthermore, smart software is not new. The methods have been known for years. What’s new is that computational resources are more readily available. Content is available without briar patches like negotiating permissions and licenses to recycle someone else’s data. Code libraries are available. Engineers and programmers are interested in doing something with the AI Lego blocks. People with money want to jump on the high speed train even if the reliability and the destination are not yet known.

I would suggest that the Gray Lady’s analysis is an somewhat skewed way to point out that some big tech outfits have bungled and stumbled.

The race, at least here in Harrod’s Creek, is not yet over. I am not sure the nags are out of their horse carriers yet. Why not criticize in the context of detailed, quite specific technical, financial, and tactical factors? I will answer my own question, “The Gray Lady has not gotten over how technology disrupted the era of big newspapers as gatekeepers.”

How quickly will the Gray Lady replace “real journalists” (often with agendas) with cheaper, faster software.

I will answer my own question, “Faster than some of the horses running in the Kentucky Derby this year.”

Stephen E Arnold, March 17, 2023


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