The ChatGPT Revolution: A Year Later
On November 30, 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT, a large language model (LLM) that quickly captured the attention of the world. ChatGPT's ability to generate human-quality text, translate languages, write different kinds of creative content, and answer questions in an informative way made it clear that AI was entering a new era.
In the year since ChatGPT's release, the tech landscape has been profoundly transformed. Generative AI, the technology that powers ChatGPT, is now seen as the biggest new-platform opportunity since the iPhone arrived in 2007. Every one of tech's giants has begun to reorder its world around generative AI, and the technology is already being applied to a wide range of industries, including law, medicine, and climate change.
The Impact on Big Tech
The release of ChatGPT has had a major impact on Big Tech. Google, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, and Apple are all racing to develop their own generative AI capabilities.
Google: Google has quickly started putting AI-written summaries at the top of its search results, despite worries that the change could undermine the search giant's ad-based profit machine. Google also moved to transform DeepMind from a research-oriented think tank into a product-focused operating unit.
Microsoft: Microsoft, OpenAI's closest partner and biggest investor, rushed to wrap ChatGPT-style assistants, which it called copilots, into every corner of its enterprise-dominating office tools and operating systems. Microsoft is now "the copilot company," CEO Satya Nadella told a developer conference this month. In the future, he said, "there will be a copilot for everyone and everything you do."
Meta: Meta is talking much less about building the metaverse and much more about the ways generative AI will drive growth in social media engagement and advertising. Meta has built its AI strategy around releasing open source models that, it hopes, will prevent its rivals from controlling the AI platform the way Apple and Google owned the smartphone through their operating-system control.
Amazon: Amazon hopes to parlay its Amazon Web Services subsidiary's dominance of cloud computing into a commanding position in generative AI. With its Alexa voice assistant, the retail giant was a leader in the previous generation of conversational AI. But Amazon has yet to put a strong stamp on the consumer end of the new chatbot boom.
Apple: Apple remains Big Tech's most conspicuous laggard in the AI race ChatGPT set off. While its Siri assistant introduced the public to voice-activated computing, and the firm is rumored to be at work on its own generative AI projects, Apple's biggest product rollout of 2023 involved its next-generation Vision Pro headset, rather than AI.
The Evolution of Generative AI
Generative AI technology is evolving at an incredibly rapid pace. It's been only a year since OpenAI released ChatGPT, but the technology has evolved so much that the original now seems almost quaint.
ChatGPT: When it launched to the public on November 30, 2022, ChatGPT was text-only and could answer questions based on its training data only up to September 2021. Plus, it was highly prone to making up facts when it didn't know the answer. Still, ChatGPT was surprisingly powerful and became an overnight success.
Today's ChatGPT: Today's ChatGPT is trained up to April 2023 and can use Microsoft's Bing and the web to check for even more recent developments. It's also multimodal, meaning it has the ability to use photos or documents as part of the search and to converse in spoken word as well.
Custom GPTs: OpenAI has introduced the ability to create custom GPTs that can be used to create websites, automate tasks, and more.
The Big Picture
The implications of generative AI are vast. The technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we work, communicate, and interact with the world around us.
Enterprises: Enterprises are customizing their own chatbots to answer questions from very specific sets of data.
Specific Domains: Generative AI is being applied to specific domains, including law, medicine, and helping the world adapt to climate change.
Large Language Models: Large language models are being used to turn anyone with an idea into a programmer, make experienced programmers more productive, and serve as a natural language interface to complicated programs.
Diffusion-Based Image Models: Diffusion-based image models have gone from Dali-esque to photo realistic.
The Bottom Line
The release of ChatGPT has marked the beginning of a new era for AI. Generative AI is still in its early stages of development, but it has the potential to transform our world in ways we can only begin to imagine.