The development of generative AI platforms continues to advance at break-neck speed, with a report from Microsoft — the parent company of OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT — noting that the tech is “strikingly close to human-level performance.”
ChatGPT and its many alternatives have taken the tech world by storm, quickly becoming go-to productivity tools at businesses around the world. While the tech has been decidedly controversial for a number of reasons, few meaningful regulations have been handed down, which has allowed for the notably rapid development of the tech.
In fact, the development has been so rapid that Microsoft now says that AI is almost at the level of human reasoning. So what does that mean for the workplace?
Sparks of Artificial General Intelligence
In a study from a Microsoft Research team titled Sparks of Artificial General Intelligence, researchers explored the effectiveness of AI platforms like ChatGPT through a series of experiments. And the results showed that this technology really is on the fast track.
“Beyond its mastery of language, GPT-4 can solve novel and difficult tasks that span mathematics, coding, vision, medicine, law, psychology and more, without needing any special prompting. Moreover, in all of these tasks, GPT-4’s performance is strikingly close to human-level performance.”
Researchers explained that this level of proficiency from AI platforms could conceivably be considered ” an early yet still incomplete version” of artificial general intelligence.
What Is Artificial General Intelligence?
While platforms like ChatGPT are quite impressive, they are still considered “narrow artificial intelligence,” in that they are exclusively designed for a specific and limited task like writing content or generating images. In so many words, they are no match for the human brain.
Artificial general intelligence (AGI), on the other hand, is the evolution of that idea. Essentially, it describes technology that can perform multiple tasks, learn and generalize without oversight, and possesses a human-like level of common sense.
Subsequently, Microsoft's claim that AI is “strikingly close” to reaching the level of AGI is quite significant. In fact, they are the first big tech company to make this kind of claim, although individuals in the industry have done so at their own peril. In fact, a Google employee was recently fired for claiming that AI was sentient (the next stage of evolution), which demonstrates the seriousness of these kinds of claims.
Should You Be Worried About AI?
A lot of fear around artificial intelligence is widely misplaced. Movies like the Terminator have made it seem like robots are going to take over the world in a sci-fi nightmare scenario if artificial intelligence gets too powerful.
The truth, however, is that we are miles away from even the faintest chance of that happening, and even the idea of artificial general intelligence is widely debated. In fact, despite the study from Microsoft making such claims, researchers were all too quick to put these findings in context.
“We acknowledge that this approach is somewhat subjective and informal, and that it may not satisfy the rigorous standards of scientific evaluation. However, we believe that it is a useful and necessary first step to appreciate the remarkable capabilities and challenges of GPT-4, and that such a first step opens up new opportunities for developing more formal and comprehensive methods for testing and analyzing AI systems with more general intelligence.”
In so many words, this particular step in AI evolution shouldn't necessarily worry you in any meaningful way. Still, there are a lot of concerning trends in these early days of AI roll-out, so hopefully some AI regulations start showing up before it's too late.