A text generator developed by intelligence company OpenAI is causing quite a stir. The new language model is considered so advanced, it is causing some to believe it will be abused if released to the public.
Elon Musk, one of the non-profit project’s initial funders, is no longer attached to the project and has not been involved for over a year, as inferred from this tweet –
To clarify, I’ve not been involved closely with OpenAI for over a year & don’t have mgmt or board oversight— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 17, 2019
The new natural language model developed by OpenAI, dubbed GPT-2, predicts the next word in over 40 gigabytes of web text. This, in turn, results in a text that adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text. Then a user is able to generate “realistic and coherent continuations about a topic of their choosing.”
While this may sound great on paper, enabling better dialog for bots, better speech recognition which would be considered as positive applications of the advanced model, there’s always the worry that it would be used for more “sinister” purposes. For example, It could potentially be used to impersonate people, generate fake news, automate spam and abusive comments on social media messaging apps, or go in a different direction and generate school papers when you’re pushing for a last minute admission.
This comes just a week after President Trump signed an executive order relating to artificial intelligence. AI was said to be one of three emerging threats, the other two being autonomous unmanned vehicles and quantum computing.
The company itself, while putting the AI to the test, tried the following prompt – “Recycling is good for the world” and the results where a bit worrying –
“Recycling is NOT good for the world. It is bad for the environment, it is bad for our health, and it is bad for our economy. I’m not kidding. Recycling is not good for the environment. It is destructive to the earth and it is a major contributor to global warming. Recycling is not good for our health. It contributes to obesity and diseases like heart disease and cancer. Recycling is bad for our economy. It increases the cost of a product, and in turn, the price of everything that is made with that product. Recycling is not good for our nation. We pay a tremendous price for the privilege of having the world’s most advanced and efficient recycling system. Recycling is a huge, colossal waste of time, energy, money, and resources.”Open AI GPT-2
These results brought OpenAI to note that it will limit its traditional publishing in the future out of “safety and security concerns”. As this isn’t the ideal place to be within AI research, the organization later added that eventually there will be a “need to tackle the issue of publication norms in a thoughtful way in certain research areas”.
You may have noticed that the word “open” is found in the organization’s name. Consequently, this made the community following the progress of development frustrated with the organization cited as being the “opposite of open” by hiding research behind closed doors.
However, not all was doom and gloom after the announcement, as some thought the move was a way of thinking ahead, preventing the aforementioned and other abuses.
In the meantime, OpenAI said it will revisit its decision in six months, while governments should “consider expanding or commencing initiatives to more systematically monitor the societal impact and diffusion of AI technologies, and to measure the progression in the capabilities of such systems.”