As you'll have no doubt seen since the start of the year, OpenAI's ChatGPT has suddenly gone from niche experiment to driving the latest trends and developments in the technology industry as a whole, with Microsoft, Google and other rival search platforms wanting a piece of the action. I daresay that I'm starting to feel like my parents when it comes to the changes in technology sometimes!
However, after digging into the latest changes, particularly with the new Bing, it appears to me like something straight out of a science fiction novel. Sci-Fi is one of my favourite genres of book, and I've read quite a few in the past few years, and that really gives me ideas of where this technology may take us in the next decade or so.
A common theme across Sci-Fi novels recently is the prevalence of AIs in the modern world, and particularly those that take up residence in space faring vessels, and how they interact with the inhabitants of the ships. Particularly in the Hugo award winning Wayfarers series of books by Becky Chambers, which starts with A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, you're introduced to a character who is the ship's AI, and without spoiling too much they become an integral part of the cast. It's a similar story in Brandon Sanderson's Skyward series of books, where a ship's AI again is one of the leading characters in the cast.
The main difference here is that these AIs aren't just replying with unbiased facts from a neutral perspective, they have personalities, charm and sometimes even emotions and opinions, which prompts thoughts of Skynet and the robot uprising. It will be up to us to decide if that is the future we get, or a bright one with AIs who exist in harmony with humanity.
The fact that, instead of a search engine spitting out links, we are now getting conversational responses is quite amazing. The fact that this is already coming out of the tools we see today shows that it is only just the beginning of the potential that this technology has, and when we really start to see it incorporated into the likes of Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple's Siri, it will properly start to shine.
We could easily see, when combined with text to voice, these tools becoming so much more powerful, and when integrated into tech such as smartwatches and smart home, becoming almost irreplaceable. This leads me onto my next discussion around Sci-Fi, and how these novels seem to hint at what is a realistic future.
The Planetfall series by Emma Newman, really goes into how this tech could be integrated into our everyday lives, with characters interacting with embedded AIs that show up as an effective heads-up display overlaid on top of our everyday vision. In addition, the characters interact with their AIs in a casual manner like talking to a close friend, and often will have them aid the human characters with their lives or work.
We saw technology that was like this in 2014 with Google Glass, however, when you combine that with the power of ChatGPT, you can effectively have a conversation with this AI while you go about your daily life. No need to pull your phone out to look something up, just ask the AI in your head!
The only potential negative impact I see here though is, once we advance beyond wearable tech, there's the ethical concerns of embedding technology underneath the skin, which we have already seen with Elon Musk's Neuralink causing controversy at the very first hurdles. Will we see people alive today reject this technology, but the younger generations embracing it?
Speaking honestly, this innovative technology is only just starting out, and the fact that leading tech companies have jumped straight onto the bandwagon makes me excited for where it will go in the future. I do wonder if I will be 80 and saying to my grandchildren that "back in my day we used to type by pressing buttons for each individual letter we wanted!"
What do you think the future holds for ChatGPT and other similar AI technology, share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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