Have no fear! Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes in peace, and it has no desire for world domination… at least that’s what it said. You can read everything else it had to say too in the article it wrote for the guardian

If you’re anything like me, you can sum AI up in one word: unsettling. If you haven’t heard of the AI called “GPT-3” yet, don’t worry, your children or grandchildren surely will. In a future where AI walks and talks like us, GPT-3 is the first frontier. In fact, this AI was so groundbreaking that when experts in computer science from around the world were given a demonstration, their reaction was dubbed “GPT-3 shock.” Experts who have devoted their lives to cutting edge technology were shocked. And you should be too. 

But why? And what even is GPT-3? 

What is the intelligence part of AI?

To understand Artificial Intelligence you have to first grasp “intelligence.” Intelligence is commonly understood as the ability to process information in order to inform future decisions. You see an adult lion staring you down on your way to work one day? You start running away. That’s the intelligent response. Information in, clever action out; pretty straightforward. The purpose of artificial intelligence is to accomplish this cycle at a level equal or superior to humans. 

This is accomplished through a process called machine learning, which is based on the way we think. Our brains are made up of trillions of interconnected neurons, and when we perceive information (the light we see, the sounds we hear, etc.), they fire in different patterns in varying parts of the brain. This produces our response. Machine learning is the result of scientists figuring out how we can model these neural systems using math in order to create “neural networks,” the most complex of which (like GPT-3) contain billions of connected neurons. 

To make this AI brain “learn,” we tell it how far off from the correct action it is, and we allow it to change the amount each neuron fires to create the complexity we see in our brain when trillions of neurons fire together. 

Natural Language Processing

GPT-3, in particular, focuses on “natural language processing.” This field deals with AI that learns to understand English, which is much harder than you would think. From GPT-3’s point of view, it sees a bunch of odd symbols that we know as our alphabet. It has to figure out what the symbols mean and how to put them together in one of the almost infinite combinations to make intelligent outputs from scratch. 

It would be like someone locking you in a room and forcing you to read hundreds of thousands of books in Arabic without any references with the expectation that you would end up learning the language proficiently. But where humans falter, AI excels. It doesn’t need to eat or sleep; it doesn’t have feelings; and it doesn’t get bored when it is forced to read over 300 billion words from the internet. So that’s what OpenAI, the company that developed it, had it do. And the results were miraculous as GPT-3 learned far beyond what the developers had expected.