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AI Robots, Supercomputers, Prompt Engineering, and General Optimism
AI and Technology Weekly
Here’s this week’s AI and technology news, product applications, and broader philosophical implications. So here we go:
↔️ Alignment Problem
📝 AI Terms
😺 AI Optimism
Latest News and Updates
The progress in intelligent robots has continued forward, though not as quickly as many of us may have expected. Robots are still not great, but we’ll see that begin to change with all the other advances:
While autonomous robots have started to move out of the lab and into the real world, they remain fragile. Slight changes in the environment or lighting conditions can easily throw off the AI that controls them, and these models have to be extensively trained on specific hardware configurations before they can carry out useful tasks.
This lies in stark contrast to the latest LLMs, which have proven adept at generalizing their skills to a broad range of tasks, often in unfamiliar contexts. That’s prompted growing interest in seeing whether the underlying technology—an architecture known as a transformer—could lead to breakthroughs in robotics.
Amazon has also been making progress on its robotic automations:
Proteus is part of an army of smarter robots currently rolling into Amazon’s already heavily automated fulfillment centers. Some of these machines, such as Proteus, will work among humans. And many of them take on tasks previously done by people.
We’re seeing the beginning of AI supercomputers. Many more will likely follow. Which raises many questions, like how will power all these and how soon will we need to create a Dyson sphere around our sun just for energy.
Inflection AI's Supercomputer Expected to Be One Of The Largest In the Industry, Right Behind AMD's Frontier
For those unfamiliar with Inflection AI, it is a business that aims at creating "personal AI for everyone." The company is widely known for its recently introduced Inflection-1 AI model, which powers the Pi chatbot. Although the AI model hasn't yet reached the level of ChatGPT or Google's LaMDA models, reports suggest that Inflection-1 performs well on "common sense" tasks, making it much more suitable for applications such as personal assistance.
The alignment problem may be one of the most important challenges in AI. I discussed this in another post:
OpenAI is dedicating a lot of resources to ensuring that the AI we create, which could be smarter than us, will remain aligned:
Superintelligence will be the most impactful technology humanity has ever invented, and could help us solve many of the world’s most important problems. But the vast power of superintelligence could also be very dangerous, and could lead to the disempowerment of humanity or even human extinction.
Currently, we don't have a solution for steering or controlling a potentially superintelligent AI, and preventing it from going rogue. Our current techniques for aligning AI, such as reinforcement learning from human feedback, rely on humans’ ability to supervise AI. But humans won’t be able to reliably supervise AI systems much smarter than us.
As this article states:
It is getting harder to keep up with AI and the growing list of jargon and scientific terms surrounding it…
This glossary aims to serve both as a resource for those just being introduced to AI and for those looking for a reference or to refresh their vocabulary.
A useful reference for the growing list of terms.
Useful Tools & Resources
This week I explored tools to help with prompt generation. This is a broad topic, so we’ll have more to come. I’ll be creating a library of these tools soon, so remember to check back for everything soon.
I’ve been experimenting with FlowGPT to see prompts and generate prompts. It has a ton of existing prompts that you can use or customize. Prompt engineering is becoming a critical part of using AI products. So tools like these are helpful, even just to see how others are successfully creating prompts.
A redditor also experimented with a few tools and ranked them, which I found interesting. You can check it out here.
Deep Dive - The Optimistic Case
We continue to explore the many opportunities and challenges that AI will present. There is incredible reason to be optimistic, but also many reasons to worry. Those aren’t mutually exclusive.
In an article in The Guardian, they explore both sides. We’ll focus on the optimistic case right now:
Recent advances such as Open AI’s GPT-4 chatbot have awakened the world to how sophisticated artificial intelligence has become and how rapidly the field is advancing. Could this powerful new technology help save the world? We asked five leading AI researchers to lay out their best-case scenarios.
First, AI will have the ability to improve everything about the human experience. We will be able to cure more diseases, extend our lives, and become better versions of ourselves:
Most movies about AI have an “us versus them” mentality, but that’s really not the case. This is not an alien invasion of intelligent machines; it’s the result of our own efforts to make our infrastructure and our way of life more intelligent. It’s part of human endeavour. We merge with our machines. Ultimately, they will extend who we are. Our mobile phone, for example, makes us more intelligent and able to communicate with each other. It’s really part of us already. It might not be literally connected to you, but nobody leaves home without one. It’s like half your brain.
AI will be able to take all the information and complexities of the human body and help us understand them and their interactions. Ultimately revolutionizing how we treat and care for ourselves:
One reason AI can be useful here is that the body is very complicated. Even a single cell is extremely complicated: you have 20,000 genes, and they all interact with each other. Biotechnology has progressed to the point where we can measure all the genes’ activity in a single cell at once. While we collect huge quantities of data, the quantity of data is so large that humans are unable to read it. But because machines can, they are able to build models of how your cells work, and how they could be changing under different circumstances that cause disease. So, you can see what happens if you make an intervention; if you introduce a pollutant or a drug, what will be the effect?
We’ll also be able to accelerate the improvements of technology. The tools we’re creating could create additional tools and innovations that accelerate progress in a way that has been unimaginable.
In just a couple of decades, humanity could get to the kind of advanced future that feels like it’s hundreds or thousands of years away. This is not at all guaranteed, but I think it’s within reach if we get this right.
Ultimately, our innovations will allow us to continue to innovate and flourish, which I find very hopeful:
We can cure all diseases, stabilise our climate, eliminate poverty, etc. We can flourish not just for the next election cycle, but for billions of years. We have been on this planet for more than 100,000 years, and most of the time we have been like a leaf blowing around in the wind, without much control of our destiny, just trying to not starve or get eaten. Science and technology and human intelligence have made us the captains of our own ship.