Artificial intelligence has long been touted as the solution to all humanity’s woes, from solving math problems to commanding starships. In fact, the idea of a non-human, non-living brain has been present in science fiction since the mid-20th century, although, robots and similar entities have cropped up in mythology for more than a thousand years – just look at the Ancient Greek automaton Talos.
The stable release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in 2023 seems to have stirred tech firms into a frenzy, with Google, Microsoft, and even Snapchat suddenly able to release their own AI platforms, albeit with varying states of usability (Google’s own staff have referred to its Bard program as “worse than useless”). Oddly enough, all this seems to be coming at a time when some sectors are shifting away from a reliance on high technology.
In particular, the entertainment industry seems to be ditching computers in favour of more immersive ways of doing things. This often involves re-inserting humans into the mix. The Paddy Power website has opted out of its random number generation systems in some live roulette online lobbies so that croupiers can retake their position as game masters, bringing the experience closer to its offline counterpart. Of course, this kind of thing isn’t going to suit everybody, so the latter site still maintains a listing of computerised casino games.
As AI looks like it’s here to stay for at least the amount of time that fidget spinners did, can the technology outlast previous ‘game-changers’ like Google Glass and Betamax tapes, i.e. those that promised us the moon only to fail, or is AI just another passing fad?
The simple answer is that AI is one of the most important technological advancements in human history and is almost definitely not going anywhere. However, competition in the industry seems to have fractured the concept into a series of half-baked ideas that really don’t have much of a future. According to Google chief Sundar Pichainotes, the search giant wanted to skip an AI race with its competitors but now seems to have been forced into a panic.
As mentioned, Google’s new AI project Bard hasn’t won over many electronic hearts. Unfortunately, as AI is inextricably linked to online search, the web giant now seems to be losing at its own game, falling to Microsoft and OpenAI. The warning signs for Google have already emerged too. Samsung has reportedly tabled the idea of swapping Google Search for Bing on all its devices.
Whether this is all in the name of refining the AI concept or a mad dash to shove it down the back of the sofa is up for debate but the likelihood is that OpenAI and ChatGPT have already found a dominant position in the AI arena, leaving its rivals to struggle against each other. The problem is that ChatGPT is still a long way from the type of AI embodied by Star Trek’s Data (it’s not sentient) – and knows very little about the world post-2021.
Overall, while not a fad, AI is still much closer to an idea than a realised concept, which means that it could evolve in any number of different directions in the future.