It all happened so suddenly. OpenAI, arguably the world’s most famous artificial intelligence laboratory, received 1.9 billion site visits this month alone, putting it in the top 30 most frequented sites on the World Wide Web. Students, office workers and intellectuals flocked to the website instantly, forfeiting original thoughts for compilations of letters and words generated by a server somewhere out there in the ether.
With ChatGPT, OpenAI’s flagship program, and rapid development of AI neural networks, it is revolutionizing the way people do business, study and research. GPT-4, the latest instalment of OpenAI’s arsenal, demonstrates aptitude on standardized tests, American bar exams and medical licensing programs. It’s not surprising that such a game-changer received widespread calls by certain regulators and ethics groups to investigate and even halt development of AI-based programs.
Some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley have hopped on the AI bandwagon, including Google, Nvidia and Microsoft, starting new projects and investing dollars in its future.
They say with great power comes great responsibility. So what are some important considerations to take into account when it comes to this uncharted territory called ChatGPT?
GPT allows people to generate images and text with nearly any prompt or question one can think of. It feeds off of millions of data points, facts and events and compiles sentences to provide an answer that is more or less accurate. While this may seem powerful and even frightening, Jeff Spence, District Principal of Information Technology at the Vancouver School Board (VSB) stresses that it’s important to understand what GPT and related programs do before sounding the proverbial alarm.
“It’s here to stay, and [we] shouldn’t be scared of it. Students are signing up and [adopting GPT],” he says in a VSB podcast.
With OpenAI having opened millions of new accounts in a matter of months after its beta release to the public, Vancouver’s local universities and institutions have been busy evaluating the potential of artificial intelligence in the education sector, at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels.
In late February, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme officially permitted the use of ChatGPT in schools as a source that can be cited. So what does this mean for the future of education?
According to Aaron Tarbuck, secondary teacher at the Vancouver School District, ChatGPT is another tool, similar to a graphical calculator or Microsoft Word.
Joining Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and others, Apple is, perhaps surprisingly, the latest company to restrict the use of GPT and related intelligence tools, citing various privacy concerns. With AI dominating the news cycles of 2023, it remains to be seen how the workplace will be affected, for better or for worse. In the near future, some estimate GPT will be capable of assisting or even replacing human relations, data entry and similar positions due to their repetitive nature.
The benefits are clear: GPT can craft job descriptions or interview questions, write CVs or cover letters, create marketing campaigns that resemble the real deal and more. In addition, it’s capable of communicating in several languages, including French and Spanish.
Employers are rethinking the way they see their employee’s positions and responsibilities to determine whether AI is a good fit for modern workflows. According to the global information and technology company Bloomberg, 63 per cent of HR leaders were in the process of determining and formulating policies on the use of ChatGPT.
There are several considerations to make when evaluating these new technologies, including valid concerns about bias and conflicts of interest. There have even been certain reports of workers taking on separate full-time jobs, leaving their current one in the hands of artificial intelligence. While it may not be sustainable in the long term, employers can look at near-term solutions including current policies that could apply to their situations.
The use of AI is not limited to the tech sector either: the engineering, financial and biomed sectors are only some of the industries that are diving face-first into the sea of GPT.
Privacy and security
Just like any major Internet-based platform, security and privacy concerns have been raised by several lobbyists, regulators, entrepreneurs and, of course, governmental institutions. The Italian government has completely banned the service from use throughout the nation.
In early April 2023, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched an investigation into OpenAI and ChatGPT in concert with provincial institutions, later citing concerns of the validity of collection of personal information, accountability and transparency obligations in accordance with Canadian law, and others.
“AI technology and its effects on privacy is a priority for my Office,” Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne says in a statement. “We need to keep up with – and stay ahead of – fast-moving technological advances, and that is one of my key focus areas as Commissioner.”
According to The Conversation, ChatGPT is a “privacy nightmare,” as it has the capability to sift through and collect any posts or data publicly available online for its databases.
Now with over 100 million users, the neural network is improving fast, perhaps even capable of overtaking the speed of government regulators and human-driven bureaucracies.
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