For now, AI language models can change how search is done, and affect the tech industry. But unlike its predecessors, the software can now learn and improve without human intervention.No. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will not be able to compete against human intelligence, at least not yet. But it is already a threat to traditional technologies which, in a way, spawned AI over the past couple of decades. The past few weeks have seen frantic activity and excitement in tech circles about how AI finally seems to have reached the point where it starts impacting everything it touches. Till now it was more of a novelty — great to tout but rarely of any actual use.Still, the biggest indicator of its impact might actually be in the bad news that’s been coming out of Silicon Valley around the same time. The layoffs announced by almost all the tech giants recently in a way underline how a lot of what they have been pivoting towards might actually have been rendered redundant by advancements in AI. And you will see more of this happening over the next few years as companies realise that it’s easier to let computers figure out some problems than let people struggle to find the solutions.The new buzz around AI is mostly thanks to OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot which can handle most queries humans throw at it. But what it does is not really new. It has just become better at its job. And even then it still cannot match what human intelligence is capable of. For example, if you ask the bot about a certain person, with a very common name, the chances are it will give you a response mixing the profiles of multiple people with the same name. That’s because it still has a lot to learn. And it is learning. A good example of this is when you ask AI a common maths problem or riddle. If its first answer was wrong, chances are that it will have found the right answer by the time it is asked the same question for the second or third time. And this is the great difference between AI and conventional tech – the former’s ability to get better without human intervention.The first big battle for AI, it seems, will be fought in the area of search where Google seems to be worried about how the new technology, which it helped build to a large extent, will challenge its own monopolistic business model. Microsoft seems to have an edge now thanks to its collaboration with OpenAI and just-announced integration of ChatGPT-like capabilities into the Bing search engine and Edge browser. Google preempted the announcement from Redmond, the Microsoft headquarters, by saying that it will also integrate Bard, a conversation AI layer, into its search.We still don’t know how users will take to either of these, but it will certainly change the way people see search results, which will now be a synopsis of sorts, instead of a list of options for them to choose from. This AI-driven move from choice to curation will impact many businesses from publishing to e-commerce, as users will no longer have a real reason to click on anything to satiate their curiosity.
But then search itself will be challenged in its ability to be a destination for millions of users because AI can potentially give users what they want wherever they are. For instance, your query about a flight option can be pulled right into the mail you are writing to the office travel desk. Students will be able to do their research right inside the word processor file without leaving that app for a second.
Then there is the larger question of the sanctity of the data and knowledge that these models are training themselves on. While AI platforms crawl news websites and other sources to learn, whatever they curate out of this will always include a certain degree of plagiarism. While platforms like Neeva are already citing the sources of their information, not everyone might be that careful. This becomes an even bigger issue when you look at AI-generated art where every creation, from paintings to music, owes its origins to someone else’s work, but without any credit. The litigation floodgates could open and that is why some platforms think it’s better to just create or buy the content from which the models are creating new artThese are turbulent times and we don’t really know where we will end up. After all, AI has been called a technology as powerful as electricity in its impact. Yes, it will cost millions of jobs and business models as it rolls out over the next few years, but will also create new ones and make many lives better in the process. But for now, it does not seem to be powerful enough to make humans redundant.