OpenAI plans to up the ante in tech’s AI race – The Denver Post

SAN FRANCISCO — Four months ago, a small San Francisco company became the talk of the technology industry when it introduced a new online chatbot that could answer complex questions, write poetry and even mimic human emotions.

Now the company is back with a new version of the technology that powers its chatbots. The system will up the ante in Silicon Valley’s race to embrace artificial intelligence and decide who will be the next generation of leaders in the technology industry.

OpenAI, which has around 375 employees but has been backed with billions of dollars of investment from Microsoft and industry celebrities, said this month that it had released a technology that it calls GPT-4. It was designed to be the underlying engine that powers chatbots and all sorts of other systems, from search engines to personal online tutors.

Most people will use this technology through a new version of the company’s ChatGPT chatbot, while businesses will incorporate it into a wide variety of systems, including business software and e-commerce websites. The technology already drives the chatbot available to a limited number of people using Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

OpenAI’s progress has, within just a few months, landed the technology industry in one of its most unpredictable moments in decades. Many industry leaders believe developments in AI represent a fundamental technological shift, as important as the creation of web browsers in the early 1990s. The rapid improvement has stunned computer scientists.

GPT-4, which learns its skills by analyzing huge amounts of data culled from the internet, improves on what powered the original ChatGPT in several ways. It is more precise. It can, for example, ace the Uniform Bar Exam, instantly calculate someone’s tax liability and provide detailed descriptions of images.

But OpenAI’s new technology still has some of the strangely humanlike shortcomings that have vexed industry insiders and unnerved people who have worked with the newest chatbots. It is an expert on some subjects and a dilettante on others. It can do better on standardized tests than most people and offer precise medical advice to doctors, but it can also mess up basic arithmetic.

Companies that bet their futures on the technology may — at least for now — have to put up with imprecision, which was long taboo in an industry built from the ground up on the notion that computers are more exacting than their human creators.

“I don’t want to make it sound like we have solved reasoning or intelligence, which we certainly have not,” Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, said in an interview. “But this is a big step forward from what is already out there.”

Other tech companies are likely to include GPT-4’s features in an array of products and services, including Microsoft’s software for performing business tasks and e-commerce sites that want to give customers new ways of virtually trying out their products. A number of industry giants like Google and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, are also working on their own chatbots and AI technology.

ChatGPT and similar technologies are already shifting the behavior of students and educators who are trying to understand whether the tools should be embraced or banned. Because the systems can write computer programs and perform other business tasks, they are also on the cusp of changing the nature of work.

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