Saturday, February 17, 2024

Curb your enthusiasm

Do we learn how to use the current versions of AI, or wait for them to get much better very soon? The excitement around AI's exponential growth mirrors a pattern we've seen with other technologies: a burst of initial progress followed by the hard reality of limitations. History offers lessons from nuclear fusion to space exploration, where initial optimism ran into practical and technological barriers.

Nuclear fusion, which began its journey as a promising energy solution in the 1950s, has yet to deliver on its promise of endless clean energy. The technical and financial challenges have proven to be more complex and enduring than anticipated. Similarly, space exploration, once thought to usher in an era of human settlement in outer space, has been tempered by the harsh realities of cost, distance, and survival in a hostile environment.

As AI technologies, particularly generative AI like ChatGPT, race ahead, they too may face significant hurdles. The rapid development and deployment of these technologies have revealed challenges, notably the increasing demand for computing power. This situation is exacerbated by the competitive push from tech giants like Google and Meta, highlighting the difficulty of sustaining rapid advancement.

One potential game-changer on the horizon is quantum computing. This emerging field promises to revolutionize computing power, potentially overcoming current limitations in a way we can barely imagine. The impact of quantum computing on AI could be profound, offering solutions to problems that are currently intractable and opening new avenues for advancement.

Yet, even with quantum computing, it's wise to temper our expectations, at least until practical and cheap quantum computers become a reality. Each technological leap brings its own set of challenges and unknowns. Rather than waiting for miraculous breakthroughs, a more pragmatic approach is to focus on optimizing current AI technologies. Understanding and working within their limitations can lead to significant improvements and applications that are both practical and impactful now.

This approach doesn't mean halting innovation but rather balancing the pursuit of new technologies with the efficient exploitation of existing ones. By learning from the past and being mindful of the inherent challenges in technological progress, we can navigate the complexities of innovation more effectively. Quantum computing may indeed provide the next significant leap, but until then, making the most of current AI capabilities is both a wise and necessary strategy.

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