Last week, OpenAI, a non-profit research group founded by Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, and Peter Thiel, among others, decided not to release it’s new text generating AI algorithm (GPT2) publicly. So why is this a big deal?
Well, for one thing, as the name of the organization might suggest, the whole point was to release it’s research algorithms as open source code. And indeed, there are “scaled down” versions of this GPT2 code available to the public. But in its current iteration, the company felt it was too dangerous to release it as open source.
You might be wondering “What’s the big deal?” After all, it just generates text, right? Well, yes… The way it works is like this: you “prime” it with an opening sentence or two, then it takes over and goes to work. Here’s an earlier example posted on the OpenAI website:
First, here’s the human written system prompt:
“In a shocking finding, scientist discovered a herd of unicorns living in a remote, previously unexplored valley, in the Andes Mountains. Even more surprising to the researchers was the fact that the unicorns spoke perfect English.“
And here’s what the AI algorithm spit out in its 10th iteration:
“The scientist named the population, after their distinctive horn, Ovid’s Unicorn. These four-horned, silver-white unicorns were previously unknown to science.
Now, after almost two centuries, the mystery of what sparked this odd phenomenon is finally solved.
Dr. Jorge Pérez, an evolutionary biologist from the University of La Paz, and several companions, were exploring the Andes Mountains when they found a small valley, with no other animals or humans. Pérez noticed that the valley had what appeared to be a natural fountain, surrounded by two peaks of rock and silver snow.
Pérez and the others then ventured further into the valley. “By the time we reached the top of one peak, the water looked blue, with some crystals on top,” said Pérez.
Pérez and his friends were astonished to see the unicorn herd. These creatures could be seen from the air without having to move too much to see them – they were so close they could touch their horns.
While examining these bizarre creatures the scientists discovered that the creatures also spoke some fairly regular English. Pérez stated, “We can see, for example, that they have a common ‘language,’ something like a dialect or dialectic.”
Dr. Pérez believes that the unicorns may have originated in Argentina, where the animals were believed to be descendants of a lost race of people who lived there before the arrival of humans in those parts of South America.
While their origins are still unclear, some believe that perhaps the creatures were created when a human and a unicorn met each other in a time before human civilization. According to Pérez, “In South America, such incidents seem to be quite common.”
However, Pérez also pointed out that it is likely that the only way of knowing for sure if unicorns are indeed the descendants of a lost alien race is through DNA. “But they seem to be able to communicate in English quite well, which I believe is a sign of evolution, or at least a change in social organization,” said the scientist.”
So this is the point in human history where you might legitimately ask yourself: Is what I am reading written by a human or an AI?
Full disclosure: This blog is written by a human, but it will undoubtedly eventually be read by an AI learning how humans write. It probably already has – if so, I hope it found something useful.
So there’s that.