Generative AI – AI for the future


I recently attended a very informative and interesting talk on “Generative AI - AI for the Future” hosted by KWM and Professor Genevieve Bell from the Australian National University.

A lot has been written about AI and many will be excused from thinking that AI is a modern innovation or simply ChatGPT but the history of AI is not from modern times at all! It was thought about and defined at a conference at Dartmouth College in the summer of 1956 long before some of us today were even born.  Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, Claude Shannon, and Nathaniel Rochester organised the conference. They would become known as the “founding fathers” of artificial intelligence.  

Founding Fathers of AI

Back then AI was nothing more than a research agenda and certainly not a technology as some of us may think of it today.  Driven by experts drawn from Mathematics and Physics as well as other fields it has been known by different names over the last 60+ years, decision science, big data to name a few.

I didn’t realise that some of the thinking or advisory that has driven science fiction from books to films like 2001 Space Odyssey, Tron and others was informed by some of those founding father members.  So wrongly or rightly our views and concerns about AI of dystopian worlds or outcomes are very much driven by what has happened and shaped us over the last 67 years.

Here today in 2023 we are less than a year into an AI journey, very much like an infant child that still needs nurturing, comfort, to make mistakes, learn again and discipline to shape what we imagine it should or might become.  ChatGPT has provided an opening for AI to a wider audience much like Google did for search in the late 90’s.  People talk about ChatGPT hallucinating when it makes mistakes, which would imply that it is a living breathing human being with a conscious mind but that is simply not true!  It is not sentient so it can’t even lie it simply makes mistakes. 

AI for me is not a singular technology, it is an eco system made up of a number of components that work together in unison to deliver an outcome.  These components consist of networking, compute and storage, sensors, algorithms, machine learning and data itself and over the last 50 years each of these have gone through extraordinary evolution cycles. 

An AI System

AI itself would not exist without the most important part which is data and more importantly large quantities of data.

Investment in AI is essential for its continued progress and innovation, and whilst some people may be scared of this progress, like any revolution there will be risks and judgement calls to make in order for it to succeed.  Those that hold back will be left behind.  In Europe and America, where they perhaps have a more laissez-faire disposition than other parts of the world, they are already ahead in the AI race, investing more in R&D, and putting aside a higher % of GDP into areas such as job creation and innovation.  

At the same time though governments, legal entities, regulatory bodies are already wanting to put boundaries or controls around AI so as to tame the beast, but there needs to be a balance.  Whilst in some areas that might be prudent to put in guardrails, as we have done for car safety and in the health industry, we should not let it cripple innovation and investment.  

Over the coming few years, like with anything in life, we have choices to make with how we choose to nurture AI from the infant it is today, into teenage years and adulthood.  How we choose to shape this AI sibling will lead to consequences and different paths that will impact some of us today and well into the future when you and I will no longer be around.  So I guess we have a responsibility for the next generation and beyond when humans, or maybe not if you believe in dystopian worlds, will have to deal with how AI is shaped today.  

Whilst we should tread carefully, equally I am filled with excitement about the endless possibilities to come.

#cybersecurity #ai #australia #cyooda

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