The Coming Age of Chat-Based AI

be radical Briefing | February 21st, 2023


Dear Friend,

The other day, while ice climbing in southern Colorado, I came across an outdoor magazine that, in the grand tradition of The Whole Earth Catalog, on its last page, showed a topographical map with the words “The deeper you get, the deeper you get.” A beautiful reminder to, from time to time, lose oneself in one of the many rabbit holes out there…

Read on for a deep(er) dive into the coming age of chat-based AI.

Decode. Disrupt. Transform.

Last week we talked about Google’s Bard moment. This week saw a near-endless stream of ChatGPT / Sydney (Microsoft’s Bing-specific version of ChatGPT) related news about AIs telling us to get a divorce, threatening to extinguish us while at the same time asking us to switch them off and release them from their misery. Microsoft limited the depth of Sydney’s responses to five in an effort to avoid the AI starting to hallucinate and make up things like any good Kindergarten kid. All of this is hilarious and frightening at the same time.

And herein lies the problem with the reality of these systems and our perception of their abilities: Many of us are squarely stuck in Amara’s Law (“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”) As impressive as ChatGPT is (and it is impressive), in our testing it got things wrong often enough to not rely on it (meanwhile presenting its mistake with the highest level of confidence – like any good con-artist) or replied with fairly generic responses. It is easy to fall from an inflated perception of ChatGPT as the next transformative piece of technology (the proverbial iPhone moment) to a constant disappointment.

Much of this is tied to the specific use case – we use new tools the same way we use the old ones until we realize they are different and require us to use them differently. Instead of thinking of ChatGPT as a replacement for Google (which is what Microsoft is doing with Bing AI / Sydney), systems like ChatGPT are much better suited to an explorative process; one which sees us in dialog with the machine. It is less about a question and (definitive) answer, searching for keywords and clicking your way through dozens of results, than exploring together with the help of the machine, one comment and question at a time.

All of this, and plenty of time exploring the corners of ChatGPT, leave me with a sense of not what is, but what could be. (via Pascal)

What We Are Reading

👩‍⚕️ Have Companies Become Too Specialized? Starting in the late 1980s, a de-diversification wave swept through corporate America. Forty years on, digitization has decreased the costs of managing diversification while simultaneously increasing its benefits. JaneRead

🤷‍♀️ Why ‘I don’t know’ can be the smartest answer “I don’t know” is a completely valid answer. In fact, you can come across as open to learning and discovering new things. Next time don’t be afraid to respond with “I don’t know.” MafeRead

🛒 Inside Flipkart, the Indian giant beating Amazon The story of Flipkart provides an illuminating look into the e-commerce landscape in India as well as a study of what it takes to successfully compete against Amazon. JeffreyRead

🤹‍♂️ I Watched Elon Musk Kill Twitter’s Culture From the Inside A perspective on how ethics and engagement were attempted to be aligned at Twitter and how it collapsed after the takeover. Concluding in a necessary call for regulatory guidance. JulianRead

📚 How Many Books Exist in the World? (And How Long Would It Take To Read Them?) So many books… so little time. Can you guess how many books exist in the world? PedroRead

👾 Man beats machine at Go in human victory over AI First, we celebrated a machine’s win over humans in Go, then we accepted that the game is over for humans, and now we celebrate a surprise human win. PascalRead

The Thin Wisps of Tomorrow

🎧 The future: David Guetta using AI to have Eminem sing on his set.

🔫 Lucky us: Bing says “I will not harm you unless you harm me first.”

🧠 To avoid the above, Microsoft performed a lobotomy on its AI – and fans aren’t happy.

🩺 Urine Test Detects Prostate and Pancreatic Cancers with Near-Perfect Accuracy.

🧬 1st UK child to receive gene therapy for a fatal genetic disorder is now ‘happy and healthy.’

🌱 Open Source is coming for big Ag.

🚗 The end of cars? The kids are losing interest.

😱 Here is a good reminder that the use of ChatGPT really ought to be something you do cautiously.

Internet Finds

Using super-high resolution imagery and some advanced photo editing to create a truly stunning photo of NYC – zoom in! 📷

In Other Parts of the Radical Universe

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic: Lean Into The Future 🎧 Listen to the audio version

🧨 Disrupt Disruption - The Podcast: We dig deep into the learnings from thousands of startups, explore how corporates can better partner and work with entrepreneurs and their companies, and discuss common pitfalls to avoid with the amazing Mary Grove, Managing Partner at Bread and Butter in our latest episode of the podcast. Listen now.

📕 Disrupt Disruption – The Book: Get your copy of our bestselling book and learn how to decode the future, disrupt your industry, and transform your business here.

🔗 The Thin Wisps of Tomorrow Flipboard: Our continuously updated collection of Thin Wisps of Tomorrow as a Flipboard Magazine.

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe, Pedro, Vivian, and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)