How Modern AI Arose Accidentally
As I read about more of the details around ChatGPT and AI art creation tools such as Stable Diffusion, I am left with the impression that these systems were not really planned. Rather, something quite amazing arose from attempting to solve much smaller, more narrowly defined problems. Problems which at first glance have much less to do with intelligence.
This makes what we see as the state of the art in AI today something profoundly different from the AI systems we have seen in the past. These earlier systems were built from scratch to attempt to achieve general intelligence, but never got anywhere close. I remember years ago reading about a system they built up on a complex set of rules to attempt to mimic how a human applies logic. This was done by defining a long list of rules which could be combined in a logical manner.
These old AI systems are the ones which have left the pop culture perception that Artificial Intelligence must be excessively logical and use very cold and calculated logic. The character Data in Star Trek is a classic case of this stereotypical idea of artificial intelligence.
Today’s systems such as ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion are much messier and not really planned excessively for general intelligence. In so far as they can be said to be intelligent, that is a much more of an emergent phenomenon.
ChatGPT today can solve complex programming problems and write long, complex articles on a variety of topics. Stable Diffusion can create wonderful beautiful and original looking art illustrations.
Based on what they do it may be tempting to think that the technology comes from scientists sitting down and thinking about how to build a system that understands the process of creating an image and how to reason about and understand complex essays and text. You may think one has programmed in knowledge of different kinds of brushes, colors, how to draw eyes etc.
Except nothing remotely like that is behind this revolution. Instead, ChatGPT is essentially a spell checker on steroids and Stable Diffusion is really just an evolution of software for removing blur and noise in an image. When you take a photo, you can get noise and artifacts…