Google and OpenAI: The Big Dust Up

February 8, 2023

Let’s go back to high school English class and a very demanding spinster named Miss Drake. Her test question was, “Who wrote this line?”

O heaven! that one might read the book of fate, and see the revolution of the times. (Henry IV, Part 2 [~ 1597] Act 3)

Do you remember? I do. The answer is the Bard of Avon, and he allegedly spun the phrase from his brain cells or he ripped it off from another playwright. Yeah, the plagiarism thing has not been resolved, and it is unclear if and with whom the Bard sucked in content and output a money-making play. Was the real Bard a primordial version of a creator on YouTube? Sure, why not draw that connection?

Now back to the quote. I like the idea of “the revolution of the times.”

The idea is that some wizard like Sundar or Prabhakar can check out the “Book of Fate” which may or may be among the works in the Google data warehouse and see the future. Just the Palantir seeing stone which works so darned well as those SPAC bets attest. Perhaps that’s what happened when Google declared a Code Red? Fear and a big bet that the GOOG can de-momentum ChatGPT.

When did OpenAI become a thing? I would suggest that it was in 2015 if one believes Sillycon Valley history. The next highlight of what was something of note took place in 2019 but possibly earlier when Microsoft plopped some Azure cycles on the OpenAI conference table. Two years later we get this:

Google at Code Red over ChatGPT As Teams Reassigned to Work on Competing AI Products

Almost coincident with Google’s realizing that people were genuinely excited about ChatGPT, Google realized that Prabhakar’s hair had caught on fire. Sundar, the Sillycon Valley manager par excellence called back the original Relevance Revolutionaries (Messrs. Brin and Page) after Microsoft made it evident to the well-fed at Davos that Softies were good at marketing. Maybe Microsoft fell short of the “Start Me Up” for the outstandingly “good enough” Windows 95, but the Chat GPT deal is notable. To make sure the GOOG got the message that Microsoft was surfing on the waves created by ChatGPT, another bundle of billions were allocated to OpenAI and ChatGPT. The time was January 2023, and it was clear that millions of norms interested in Microsoft’s use of ChatGPT in those “good enough” engineering marvels, Bing.com and the Google infused Edge browser.

Where are we on Wednesday, February 8, 2023? How about this as a marker:

Google said Bard would be widely available to the public in the next few weeks. Source: MSN.com

Yep, the killer words are right there—”would be.” Not here, the conditional future, just a limited test. Not integrated into heaven knows how many apps like OpenAI. Not here like the collection of links generated by Matt Shumer. Not here like the YouTube videos explaining how to build an app from scratch with ChatGPT. Nope. Google is into the “to be” and “demo” mode.

Let’s do simple math on Google’s situational awareness:

  • 2015 OpenAI and Elon Musk are visible
  • 2019 Microsoft provides some “money” which may be a round trip to pay for Azure cycles
  • 2022 (November) ChatGPT gets a million users in five days
  • 2022 (December) Google feels the heat from burning hair and screeches “Code Red”
  • 2023 (January) Davos talks about ChatGPT, not just the new world order, power, money, and where to eat dinner
  • 2023 (February) Google says, “Out version of ChatGPT is coming… soon. Really, very soon.” But for now it’s a limited demo. And Microsoft? The ChatGPT thing turned up when one of my team ran a query on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. Yep, ready or not there it was.

Several observations:

  1. The Sundar and Prabhakar duo missed the boat on the impact of ChatGPT for search. Err, you are supposed to be the search wizards, and you are standing on the platform waiting for the next train to arrive?
  2. The uptake of ChatGPT may be a reaction against the Google search system, not a reaction to the inherent greatness of ChatGPT. A certain search company with a 90 percent share and a genuine disdain to relevant responses to users’ queries may have boosted the interest in ChatGPT. If I am correct, this is an unintended consequence of being Googley.
  3. The Microsoft marketing move is an outstanding [a] bit of luck, [b] a super star tactic that warrants a Grammy (oh, wait, the Grammies suck), or [c] a way to breathe new life into products which suffer from featuritis and a lack of differentiation.

Net net: Sundar and Prabhakar are destined for Harvard case study glory. Also, the dynamic duo may pull a marshmallow from the fire, but will it make a great S’more? Does sophomoric rhyme with Anthropic. And Code Red? The revolution of the times might be here as the Bard wrote or obtained from a fellow playwright.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2023

An Interesting View of AI Deployment

February 8, 2023

Let me summarize the 5,000 word essay “Let’s Speed Up AI”: Go faster. The idea is that one has to accelerate that which is already accelerating. Imagine a downhill skier with a jet pack. Once momentum is gained, fire the jet back pack. The author believes that wide, rapid uptake of AI methods will result in the types of applications and controls. I certainly am not keen on having Terminator kick in my door, but I will reserve judgment on the wisdom of this “technology will work out its kinks.” A French guy pointed out that technology has unanticipated consequences. Today it is not necessary to get one’s priestly robes in a twist.

The write up states:

This idea that we can imagine every problem before it happens is a bizarre byproduct of a big drop in our risk tolerance as a society.

Are countries with access to AI technology risk averse? That’s a question I am not able to answer. I am not sure anyone can. Perhaps it is a job for the to-be systems from Microsoft Bing or the Code Red Google?

In reference to the suggestion that AI has to slow down, the write up says:

The basic premise of the slow-down article is that AI doom is inevitable.  We’ve got to slow it down or stop the research now to avoid the disaster!  It’s not that AI might go crazy and kill us all, it’s that it will kill us all!

If you are fans of the go-fast approach to technology, you may find the “Let’s Speed Up AI” argument on the money. I think that some pharma execs like the idea of go-fast.

Is it important that Google with its oodles of smart software and thousands of wizards [a] overlooked the potential of ChatGPT, [b] noted the demand and did not know how to frame Googzilla’s response, or [c] has too many executives like Sundar and Prabhakar who want to go slow or not go anywhere that would undermine their compensation?

Google’s new posture is go fast. I wonder if the firm has weighed objectively the risks of rolling out a knee jerk response to what is the marketing home run of the last six months.

My hunch is that the battle is not among smart software vendors; I think we are engaged in a marketing tussle. Technology is like the illustrations of new cars in a 1950s’ Saturday Evening Post. The cars were not that good. But the messages and images were outstanding.

Accelerating the accelerating sounds good. Should we ask the downhill skier with the jet pack?

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2023

A Possible Tech Giant Wants Regulation? Mommy, When Do I Have to Be Home?

February 7, 2023

I am interested in people who want government to regulate their actions. I have a sneaking suspicion that the request is either uninformed, a sham, or an indirect statement like “We will abuse technology every possible way we can think of.”

You may have a different point of view. That’s super. But when I read articles like “ChatGPT Must Be Regulated and AI Can Be Used by Bad Actors, Warns OpenAI’s Chief Technology Officer” I find the statement disingenuous.

But, first, let’s look at a snippet of the write up:

Asked if it’s too early for regulators to get involved, Murati told _Time_, “It’s not too early. It’s very important for everyone to start getting involved, given the impact these technologies are going to have.”

Mr. Mira Murati is the chief technology officer of the outfit doing business as OpenAI.

Who can disagree that “it is important for everyone to start getting involved.” I assume that means attorneys general, local, county, and state officials, those in Washington, DC—but “everyone” is a much bigger group. It is, if I recall correctly one of my logic professors, a categorical affirmative.

That’s impossible.

Thus, the statement is horse feathers or horse ridge or some other metaphor for a huge slice of Aldi baloney.

My take on what’s behind this statement is my opinion, so stop reading. I am pretty flexible now that I am a dinobaby and easily irritated:

  1. The plea to be regulated is to get a committee to promulgate rules. Once the rules are known, the person demanding rules can figure out how to circumvent without breaking the law, getting fined, or killed by a self driving car which is situationally stupid. I can heard the response to the regulations, “Mommy, why do I have to come in by 10 pm. None of my friends has to be home so early.” Yep, mommy stuff.
  2. The statement makes the high-tech outfit seem so darned rational and accommodating. I hear, “We have invented something that can do evil. We need help managing what we have built and turned loose on a social construct obsessed with NFL football, TikToks, and quiet quitting. The goal is what I call positive posturing.
  3. The company has advisors and lawyers who want rules. Lobbying can influence those rules to benefit the companies with a technology advantage. The goal is to cement that power position. How quickly did the US government move to action against AT&T, Microsoft, or Google? Yeah.

The write up says, “Regulations, please.” I hear, “Mommy, why do I have to come home at 10 pm?” The idea is to get beyond barriers so lawyers can explain that the child was not involved in drug bust.

Stephen E Arnold February 7, 2023

Definitive List Update 2-7-23

February 7, 2023

Mr. Shumer has updated his original “definitive list” of AI vendors and projects. We have inserted his additions into the table published on February 3, 2023. The “definitive list” is not definitive, but there are some gems in his selection. He is the developer of the hyperwrite.ai system. A happy honk to him for his thinking on this important topic.

Category: Art/Images  
Blimey Create https://blimeycreate.com
ClipDrop https://clipdrop.co/
Craiyon https://www.craiyon.com/
GoCharlie https://gocharlie.ai/
Hexo AI https://hexo.ai/
LexicaArt https://lexica.art/?q=anime
MageSpace https://www.mage.space
Midjourney https://www.midjourney.com
MiniStudio https://ministudio.ai
Playground AI https://playgroundai.com
Stockimg AI https://stockimg.ai/
Note: Craiyon added to original list  
Category: Audio Summaries  
Meet Jamie AI http://meetjamie.ai
Synth_HQ https://www.usesynth.com/
VoicePen (audio2text) https://voicepen.ai/
Word Cab http://wordcab.com
Category: Coding  
Durable https://durable.co/
GitHub Copilot https://github.com/features/copilot
HeyAI2sql https://www.ai2sql.io
MayaLabsIO https://mayalabs.io/
Replit https://replit.com
Tabnine https://www.tabnine.com
Category: Conversational+A60  
Ask delphi https://www.askdelphi.com
Chat https://chat.ai/index.html
ChatGPT https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt/
HyperWriteAI https://hyperwriteai.com
JaqNJil AI https://beta.jaqnjil.com/
MyReplika https://replika.ai
Category: Customer Service  
Brainfish AI https://www.brainfi.sh/
CohereHQ https://cohere.io/
Category: Databases  
Pinecone https://www.pinecone.io
Weaviate io https://weaviate.io/
Category: Design  
Diagram ttps://diagram.com
UIizard https://uizard.io
Vizcom AI https://www.vizcom.ai
Category: Gaming  
InWorld AI https://www.inworld.ai
Leonardo (game art) https://leonardo.ai/
Scenario_gg https://www.scenario.gg
Category: Inference and Training  
BananaDev_ https://banana.dev
Goose ai NLP https://goose.ai
GraphSignal https://github.com/graphsignal
Leap api https://developer.leap.build
GetSteamship https://twitter.com/GetSteamship
MagicEducator https://www.magiceducator.com
MosaicML https://www.mosaicml.com
Weights Biases https://wandb.ai
Category: Legal  
Casetext https://casetext.com
Donotpay https://donotpay.com
SpellbookLegal https://www.spellbook.legal
Note: Casetext presents itself as an alternative to LexisNexis.  
Cateogory: Marketing Copy Generation  
Copy ai https://www.copy.ai
Copysmith ai https://copysmith.ai
Gomoonbeam https://www.gomoonbeam.com
HyperWriteAI https://hyperwriteai.com
Jasper http://Jasper.ai
MagicalTome shorturl.at/huwzU
Sales Stack http://salesstack.ai
WriteSonic https://writesonic.com
Category: Models  
AI21Labs https://www.ai21.com/studio
Anthropic AI https://www.anthropic.com
Cohere AI https://cohere.ai
Google AI https://ai.google
Open AI https://openai.com
Stability AI https://stability.ai/home
Category: Music  
HarmonAI https://www.harmonai.org
PlaylistAI https://www.playlistai.app/
Category: Photographs (Some Enhancers)  
Bloom AI http://bloom.ai
Blend https://www.blendnow.com/
ClaidAI https://claid.ai/
Stylized AI http://stylized.ai
Category: Prompts and Chaining  
Dust4 AI https://dustai.es/en
GPT index https://gpt-index.readthedocs.io/en/latest/guides/use_cases.html
Humanloop https://humanloop.com
LangChain AI https://langchain.readthedocs.io/en/latest/index.html
ListAssist https://www.listassist.ai/
Promptbase https://promptbase.com
Retune (GPT front end) https://retune.so/
WhyLabs https://whylabs.ai
Category: Question Answering  
Avanty App https://avanty.app/
BetterBrainAI https://www.betterbrain.ai
Qatalog https://qatalog.com/
Charma (managing) https://www.charma.com/
Fermat (brainstorming) https://fermat.ws/
GeniusSheets https://www.geniussheets.com
Glass AI https://glass.health/ai
Light AI  https://light.ai/
Olli AI https://www.olli.ai
Vizologi https://vizologi.com/
Vazy Data https://www.vazydata.com/
Category: Search and Retrieval  
MemdotAI https://get.mem.ai
Perplexity AI https://www.perplexity.ai
You https://you.com/
Category: Survey Analysis  
Askviable https://www.askviable.com/
Kraftful https://www.kraftful.com
Category: Video  
Augxlabs https://www.augxlabs.com
Bria AI https://bria.ai
D-ID https://www.d-id.com/
Gloss AI http://glossai.co
OASIScalling https://theoasis.com/
Runwayml https://runwayml.com
Category: Writing Tools  
CheckForAI https://checkforai.com/
Every https://every.to/
GetHume https://app.gethume.com/login/signin
HyperWriteAI https://hyperwriteai.com
InstaNovel http://instanovel.ai/
MyWorkbench http://mgrworkbench.ai
WriteWithLAIKA https://www.writewithlaika.com/
Note: The site TheReasonForThat is a listing of AI tools, services and applications

Stephen E Arnold, February 7, 2023

Legal Eagles Will Have Ruffled Feathers and Emit Non-AI Screeches

February 6, 2023

The screech of an eagle is annoying. An eagle with ruffled feathers can make short work of a French bulldog. But legal eagles are likely to produce loud sounds and go hunting for prey; specifically, those legal eagles will want to make life interesting for a certain judge in Columbia. (Nice weather in Bogota, by the way.)

A Judge Just Used ChatGPT to Make a Court Decision” reports:

Judge Juan Manuel Padilla Garcia, who presides over the First Circuit Court in the city of Cartagena, said he used the AI tool to pose legal questions about the case and included its responses in his decision, according to a court document dated January 30, 2023.

One attorney in the US wanted to use smart software in a US case. That did not work out. There are still job openings at Chick-f-A, by the way.

I am not convinced that outputs from today’s smart software is ready for prime time. In fact, much of the enthusiasm is a result of push back against lousy Google search results, a downer economic environment, and a chance to make a buck without ending up in the same pickle barrel as Sam Bankman Fried or El Chapo.

Lawyers have a reason to watch Sr. Garcia’s downstream activities. Here are the reasons behind what I think will be fear and loathing by legal eagles about the use of smart software:

  1. Billability. If software can do what a Duke law graduate does in a dusty warehouse in dim light in a fraction of the time, partners lose revenue. Those lawyers sifting through documents and pulling out the ones that are in their jejune view are germane to a legal matter can be replaced with fast software. Wow. Hasta la vista billing for that mindless document review work.
  2. Accuracy. Today’s smart software is in what I call “close enough for horseshoes” accuracy. But looking ahead, the software will become more accurate or at least as accurate as a judge or other legal eagle needs to be to remain a certified lawyer. Imagine. Replacing legal deliberations with a natural language interface and the information in a legal database with the spice of journal content. There goes the legal backlog or at least some of it with speedy but good enough decisions.
  3. Consistency. Legal decisions are all over the place. There are sentencing guidelines and those are working really well, right? A software system operating on a body of content will produce outputs that are accurate within a certain range. Lawyers and judges output decisions which can vary widely.

Nevertheless, after the ruffling and screeching die down, the future is clear. If a judge in Columbia can figure out how to use smart software, that means the traditional approach to legal eagle life is going to change.

Stephen E Arnold, February 6, 2023

Google: So Clever, So So Clever

February 6, 2023

I read a good summary of the US and state governments’ allegations about the behavior of the Google ad machine. I recommend “How Google Manipulated Digital Ad Prices and Hurt Publishers, Per DOJ.” The write up provides some useful insight into how the Google management environment has created a culture of being really cute, possibly really clever. The methods employed reminded me of a group of high school science club members pranking the hapless administration of a secondary school. Fun and being able to be smarter than everyone else is the name of the game.

Let me cite one example from the write up because it is short, to the point, and leaves little room for a statement like, “Senator, I did not know how the system’s components worked. I will provide the information you need. Again, I am sorry.” Does that line sound familiar? I left out the “Senator, thank you for the question” but otherwise the sentiment seems in tune with the song some companies sing to semi-aware elected officials.

Google Ads allegedly submitted two bid prices, unbeknownst to advertisers and publishers, effectively controlling the winning bids and the price floors. To entrench its market power even further, the suit argues Google started manipulating ad prices under a different method, which it dubbed “Bernanke.” Starting in 2013, according to the suit, Google Ads would submit bid prices to AdX above the amount advertisers had budgeted, in order to win high-value impressions for a group of publishers — the ones most likely to switch ad tech platforms. This insight could only be obtained by leveraging data in Google’s own publisher ad server. Once AdX cleared the bids, Google Ads would offset the losses by charging higher fees to other publishers less likely to switch ad tech providers. This scheme allegedly helped Google lock in key publishers away from other ad exchanges and ad buying tools, all while maintaining its profits at the expense of other smaller publishers.

Once of the best jobs I had in my life was my stint at the Courier-Journal & Louisville Times Co. That newspaper, like many others, has been unable to cope with the digital revolution. Outfits like Google and their clever methods may have hastened the financial precipice on which many publishers teeter.

My concern is that this particular method — just one of many I assume — has been grinding out cash for the Google for about a decade. Now there is some action, but I think the far more important challenge Google faces will be the active consumer uptake of newer options. These may prove to be familiar with Clever Avenue.

I hope these AI-informed travelers take the road called Ethical Behavior Boulevard.

Stephen E Arnold, February 6, 2023

Definitive AI Market Snapshot

February 3, 2023

Matt Shumer, the co-founder of Otherside AI, posted on Twitter “the definitive market map Twitter thread.” You can find the tweet at this link. Mr. Shumer and his colleagues developed HyperWrite AI which is “”the world’s most powerful AI writing assistant.” The format of the information in Twitter is helpful, but I prefer information in tabular form. Here is Mr. Shumer’s “map” presented with the company name and its url. Some companies appear in the tables more than one time. Also, where necessary I have added a url which some readers may find useful. I have used Mr. Shumer’s categories, clarifying where necessary. Other minor edits included are for readability.

Category: Art/Images  
Blimey Create https://blimeycreate.com
Craiyon https://www.craiyon.com/
LexicaArt https://lexica.art/?q=anime
MageSpace https://www.mage.space
Midjourney https://www.midjourney.com
Playground AI https://playgroundai.com
Stockimg AI https://stockimg.ai/
Note: Craiyon added to original list  
Category: Audio Summaries  
Meet Jamie AI http://meetjamie.ai
Synth_HQ https://www.usesynth.com/
Word Cab http://wordcab.com
Category: Coding  
GitHub Copilot https://github.com/features/copilot
HeyAI2sql https://www.ai2sql.io
MayaLabsIO https://mayalabs.io/
Replit https://replit.com
Tabnine https://www.tabnine.com
Category: Conversational+A60  
Ask delphi https://www.askdelphi.com
Chat https://chat.ai/index.html
ChatGPT https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt/
HyperWriteAI https://hyperwriteai.com
MyReplika https://replika.ai
Category: Customer Service  
Brainfish AI https://www.brainfi.sh/
CohereHQ https://cohere.io/
Category: Databases  
Pinecone https://www.pinecone.io
weaviate io https://weaviate.io/
Category: Design  
Diagram ttps://diagram.com
UIizard https://uizard.io
Vizcom AI https://www.vizcom.ai
Category: Gaming  
InWorld AI https://www.inworld.ai
Scenario_gg https://www.scenario.gg
Category: Inference and Training  
BananaDev_ https://banana.dev
Goose ai NLP https://goose.ai
Leap api https://developer.leap.build
GetSteamship https://twitter.com/GetSteamship
MosaicML https://www.mosaicml.com
Weights Biases https://wandb.ai
Category: Legal  
Casetext https://casetext.com
Donotpay https://donotpay.com
SpellbookLegal https://www.spellbook.legal
Note: Casetext presents itself as an alternative to LexisNexis.  
Cateogory: Marketing Copy Generation  
Copy ai https://www.copy.ai
Copysmith ai https://copysmith.ai
Gomoonbeam https://www.gomoonbeam.com
HyperWriteAI https://hyperwriteai.com
Jasper http://Jasper.ai
WriteSonic https://writesonic.com
Category: Models  
AI21Labs https://www.ai21.com/studio
Anthropic AI https://www.anthropic.com
Cohere AI https://cohere.ai
Google AI https://ai.google
Open AI https://openai.com
Stability AI https://stability.ai/home
Category: Music  
HarmonAI https://www.harmonai.org
PlaylistAI https://www.playlistai.app/
Category: Photographs (Some Enhancers)  
Bloom AI http://bloom.ai
Blend https://www.blendnow.com/
ClaidAI https://claid.ai/
Stylized AI http://stylized.ai
Category: Prompts and Chaining  
Dust4 AI https://dustai.es/en
GPT index https://gpt-index.readthedocs.io/en/latest/guides/use_cases.html
Humanloop https://humanloop.com
LangChain AI https://langchain.readthedocs.io/en/latest/index.html
Promptbase https://promptbase.com
WhyLabs https://whylabs.ai
Category: Question Answering  
Avanty App https://avanty.app/
BetterBrainAI https://www.betterbrain.ai
GeniusSheets https://www.geniussheets.com
Olli AI https://www.olli.ai
Vazy Data https://www.vazydata.com/
Category: Search and Retrieval  
MemdotAI https://get.mem.ai
Perplexity AI https://www.perplexity.ai
You https://you.com/
Category: Survey Analysis  
Askviable https://www.askviable.com/
Kraftful https://www.kraftful.com
Category: Video  
Augxlabs https://www.augxlabs.com
Bria AI https://bria.ai
Gloss AI http://glossai.co
OASIScalling https://theoasis.com/
Runwayml https://runwayml.com
Category: Writing Tools  
HyperWriteAI https://hyperwriteai.com
Every https://every.to/

 

The taxonomy is essentially Mr. Shumer’s. But the list of companies was interesting to me and my research team.

More on the AI Betamax Versus VHS Dust Up

February 2, 2023

24 Seriously Embarrassing Hours for AI” gathers four smart software stumbles. The examples are highly suggestive that some butchers have been putting their fingers on the scales. The examples include the stage set approach to Tesla’s self driving and OpenAI’s reliance on humans to beaver away out of sight to make outputs better. In general I agree with the points in the write up.

However, there is one statement which attracted my yellow high light pen like a sci-fi movie tractor beam. Here it is:

Sometimes the slower road is the better road.

It may be that the AI TGV has already left the station and is hurtling down the rails from Paris to Nimes. Microsoft announced that the lovable Teams video chat and Swiss Army knife of widgets will be helping users lickity split. Other infusions are almost certain to follow. Even airlines are thinking smart software. Airlines! These outfits lose luggage with bar codes. Perhaps AI will help, but I remain skeptical. How does one lose a bag with a bar code in our post 9/11 world?

The challenge for Google, Facebook (which wants to be a leader in AI), and the other organizations betting their investors’ money on AI going to take a “slower road”?

My TGV high speed train reference is not poetical; it is a reflection of the momentum of information. The OpenAI machine — with or without legerdemain — is rolling along. OpenAI has momentum. With foresight or dumb luck, Microsoft is riding along.

The “slower road” echoes Google’s conservative approach. Remember that Google sacrificed credibility in AI with the Dr. Timnit Gebru affair. Like a jockey with a high value horse, the beast is now carrying lead pads. Combine that with bureaucratic bloat and concern for ad revenues, I am not sure Google and some other outfits can become the high twitch muscled creature needed to cope with market momentum.

Betamax was better. Well, it did not dominate the market. VHS was pushed into the ditch, but that required time and technological innovation. The AI race is not over but the “slow” angle is late from the gate.

Stephen E Arnold, February 2, 2023

Has Microsoft Drilled into a Google Weak Point?

February 2, 2023

I want to point to a paper written by someone who is probably not on the short list to replace Jeff Dean or Prabhakar Raghavan at Google. The analysis of synthetic data and its role in smart software is titled “Machine Learning and the Politics of Synthetic Data.” The author is Benjamin N Jacobsen at Durham University. However, the first sentence of the paper invokes Microsoft’s AI Labs at Microsoft Cambridge. Clue? Maybe?

The paper does a good job of defining synthetic data. These are data generated by a smart algorithm. The fake data train other smart software. What could go wrong? The paper consumes 12 pages explaining that quite a bit can go off the rails; for example, just disconnected from the real world or delivering incorrect outputs. No big deal.

For me the key statement in the paper is this one:

… as I have sought to show in this paper, the claims that synthetic data are ushering in a new era of generated inclusion and non-risk for machinelearning algorithms is both misguided and dangerous. For it obfuscates how synthetic data are fundamentally a technology of risk, producing the parameters and conditions of what gets to count as risk in a certain context.

The idea of risk generated from synthetic data is an important one. I have been compiling examples of open source intelligence blind spots. How will a researcher know when an output is “real”? What if an output increases the risk of a particular outcome? Has the smart software begun to undermine human judgment and decision making? What happens if one approach emerges as the winner — for example the SAIL, Snorkel, Google method? What if a dominant company puts its finger on the scale to cause certain decisions to fall out of the synthetic training set?

With many rushing into the field of AI windmills, what will Google’s Code Red actions spark? Perhaps more synthetic data to make training easier, cheaper, and faster? Notice I did not use the word better. Did the stochastic parrot utter something?

Stephen E Arnold, February 2, 2023

Two Interesting Numbers

February 2, 2023

I spotted two interesting numbers.

The first appeared in this headline: “Facebook Now Has 2 Billion Users.” I am not sure how many people are alive on earth, but this seems like a big number. Facebook or what I call the Zuckbook has morphed into a penny pinching mini-metaverse. But there is the number: two billion. What happens if regulators want to trim down the Zuck’s middle age spread. Chop off WhatsApp. Snip away Instagram. What’s left? The Zuckbook. But is it exciting? Not for me.

Let’s look at the second number. The factoid appears in “ChatGPT Sets Record for Fastest-Growing User Base in History, Report Says.” I quote:

[The] AI bot ChatGPT reached an estimated 100 million active monthly users last month, a mere two months from launch, making it the “fastest-growing consumer application in history…

The Zuckbook thinks ChatGPT is a meh-thing.

Three differences:

First, the ChatGPT thing is a welcome change from the blah announcements about technology in the last six months. I mean another video card, more layoffs, and another Apple sort of new device. Now there is some zing.

Second, the speed of uptake is less of a positive move because ChatGPT is flawless. Nope. The uptake is an example of people annoyed with the status quo and grabbing something that seems a heck of a lot better than ads and more of Dr. Zuboff’s reminders about surveillance.

Third, ChatGPT offers something that almost anyone can use. The learning curve is nearly zero. Can you figure out how to see street views in Google Maps? Can you make Windows update leave your settings alone?

Net net: Fasten your seat belts. A wild ride is beginning.

Stephen E Arnold, February 2, 2023

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