strain12_Carol YepesGetty Images_chatbot Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Kill the Chatbots?

While it is understandable that a new technology with seemingly vast powers would raise concerns, much of the handwringing over large-language-model chatbots is misplaced. The right response to economic disruption is not to stop the clock, but to try to maximize the gains and minimize the pain.

WASHINGTON, DC – The world has been dazzled by sudden major advances in artificial intelligence. But now some prominent and well-placed people are responding with misguided demands to pull the emergency brake.

An open letter calling “on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least six months the training of AI systems” has received thousands of signatures, including those of tech icons like Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, many CEOs, and prominent scholars. Geoffrey Hinton, one of the pioneers of the “deep learning” methods behind the recent advances, was recently asked by CBS News about AI “wiping out humanity.” And, as always, many commentators fear that AI will eliminate the need for human workers. A 2022 Ipsos survey finds that only around one-third of Americans think that AI-based products and services offer more benefits than drawbacks.

Those calling for a pause emphasize that “generative AI” is different from anything that has come before. OpenAI’s ChatGPT is so advanced that it can convincingly converse with a human, draft essays better than many undergraduates, and write and debug computer code. The Financial Times recently found that ChatGPT (along with Bard, Google’s own experimental chatbot) can tell a joke at least passably well, write an advertising slogan, make stock picks, and imagine a conversation between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

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