EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

Chatbot: the new AI frontier

Writer: Liu Jianwei  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-02-13

Tiktok is an insanely popular app worldwide since its launch, quickly gaining 100 million users in a mere nine months. Well, not so fast if you compare it with ChatGPT that amassed 100 million active users in just two months.

So, what is ChatGPT and what makes it so trending?

GPT stands for generative, pretrained transformer, a language model employed by OpenAI in its development of ChatGPT. Using written inputs, users can accomplish a great variety of tasks with ChatGPT, including writing job applications, academic essays, curriculums, movie and TV scripts, programming codes, planning weddings and parties, brainstorming business ideas, etc.

As the fastest-growing web platform ever, ChatGPT can engage in human-like conversations and is expected to transform many industries down the road. It is a powerful AI tool that brings machines one step closer to actual human intelligence.

Based in San Francisco, OpenAI, the owner of ChatGPT, was co-founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman in 2015, financially backed by the tech titan Microsoft, which announced in late January a further multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment deal with OpenAI. Microsoft has already incorporated OpenAI’s GPT language technology updates to its Bing search engine.

Other tech giants will not just stand by and get left out of the party. Google just unveiled its competition to ChatGPT called Bard AI, which will be rolled out in Google Search in the coming weeks.

Baidu, the dominant search engine in China, announced that its Ernie Bot, or Wenxin Yiyan, will be launched in March. Alibaba has confirmed that it also has a ChatGPT rival product currently being tested internally. Tencent has similar generative AI technology in its arsenal as well.

Human beings have long been obsessed with imagining and creating machines that mimic themselves ideally in images, in functions and in competence.

From IBM’s deep blue that claimed supremacy in chess playing to AlphaGo as the first computer program that eventually defeated a weiqi, or go, world champion, machines are able to establish competitive advantages over humans in some single-purpose functions.

Performing multi-dimensional tasks as accomplished by human beings can be a challenge to machines, but they are catching up. Apple’s Siri can help us navigate the use of iPhones and provide answers based on search results, and it can also engage in rudimentary casual and even somewhat witty conversations. Its verbal form of output certainly has limitations, and it is not meant to serve as more than just a handy tool.

ChatGPT has taken a giant leap forward. Its huge comprehensive textual database and more powerful language processing algorithms enable it to program and complete written assignments in a more human-like manner. It is generative AI, the category of artificial intelligence that generates or creates its own responses.

Machines have clear advantage over human brains in terms of the size of memory, lack of fatigue and speed of processing. But the function of human brains excels in unrestricted input sources, and is not limited to verbal or written, images or motion.

Our ability to solve problems that involve cross-disciplinary complexity is still quite a challenge for machines to learn, especially beyond just a mechanical and rational way. The prioritizing process in judgment calls can also be difficult to comprehend, even for fellow humans.

(The author is an independent financial investor.)