Former OpenAI exec says, “There’s no crack team coming to handle this.” Hashtag Trending for Monday, June 24, 2024

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A new essay from a former OpenAI team member says there is no “crack team coming to save us.”  India might be running out of skilled engineers. Worries at Microsoft that they are becoming the IT department of OpenAI and an article in the Wall Street Journal says, if you don’t believe AI is taking jobs, just ask a freelancer.

All this and more on the “don’t shoot the messenger” edition of Hashtag Trending.  I’m your host Jim Love, let’s get into it.

Leopold Aschenbrenner, a former OpenAI team member and current AI investment firm founder just published a 50,000-word essay, “Situational Awareness,” which offers a long-term perspective on artificial intelligence development.

Aschenbrenner starts with a provocative, but true statement for all AI doubters –

Over and over again, year after year, skeptics have claimed ‘deep learning won’t be able to do X’ and have been quickly proven wrong.”

Aschenbrenner predicts that by 2027, AI models could potentially match the capabilities of AI researchers and engineers. He envisions AI evolving from chatbots to more sophisticated agents, akin to coworkers. Looking further ahead, he suggests superintelligent AI systems could emerge as soon as 2030.

However, Aschenbrenner warns of potential challenges, including a looming “data wall” as internet-sourced training data becomes scarce. He also raises a frightening but realistic concerns about the leak of key artificial general intelligence breakthroughs to foreign entities within the next two years.

He calls Superintelligence, the US’s greatest defence project, but equally he says,

Our failure today to erect sufficient barriers around research on artificial general intelligence “will be irreversible soon: in the next 12-24 months, we will leak key AGI breakthroughs to the [Chinese Communist Party]. It will be the national security establishment’s single greatest regret before the decade is out.”

While Aschenbrenner’s views represent a minority perspective in the AI industry, his essay provides valuable insight into high-level discussions happening in Silicon Valley, albeit not an extremely hopeful forecast. He says:

There’s “no crack team coming to handle this. … Right now, there’s perhaps a few hundred people in the world who realize what’s about to hit us, who understand just how crazy things are about to get, who have situational awareness.”

Sources include: Axios

Here’s another concerning trend from India’s tech sector: the potential shortage of skilled software engineers.

India has long been a source of software engineers and technical staff and while initially the attraction was highly educated but relatively cheap staffing. But even as the price of Indian resources has climbed, the demand for talent has increased.

Despite India’s reputation as a global IT hub, recent reports suggest the country may soon face a crisis in both quantity and quality of tech talent.

A key issue is the disconnect between education and industry needs. Many computer science graduates report finishing their degrees without hands-on experience with essential tools like libraries, frameworks, or APIs. This gap leaves many unprepared for real-world projects.

According to one estimate, India has only about 2,000 senior software engineers. This shortage is driving what some call a “brain drain,” as talented individuals seek opportunities abroad and students seek more “practical education” oversees.

Some are hoping that the rise of AI could level the playing field, potentially opening new doors for Indian tech talent. As Pratik Desai, founder of KissanAI, notes, “India has a golden opportunity as AI can be a levelling field.” But he emphasizes this requires a fundamental shift in mindset from academia to industry.

The challenge now is to bridge the gap between education and industry needs, while creating incentives for skilled professionals to build their careers in India.

Sources include: Analytics India

An article in the Wall Street Journal has the provocative headline. AI doesn’t kill jobs? Tell that to freelancers.  The piece, authored by Christopher Mims, examines how the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT is affecting freelance workers across various industries.

Mims has a first person story from Jennifer Kelly, a freelance copywriter with 30 years of experience, saw her income dry up almost completely after ChatGPT’s debut. Some clients who initially switched to AI-generated content later returned, asking her to improve the low-quality AI output.

The article cites multiple studies showing that since the introduction of ChatGPT and similar AI models, freelance job postings on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr have dropped by up to 21% in areas where AI excels.

Reid Southen, a concept artist for TV and movies, reported his 2023 income was less than half of a typical year, as AI tools like Midjourney are increasingly used in the early stages of production.

However, not all freelancers are struggling. Some in fields like data science and IT are earning up to 40% more by effectively using AI tools. Others, like copywriter David Erik Nelson, are seeing increased demand as clients seek human expertise to improve or replace AI-generated content.

The article concludes that while AI may not be eliminating all jobs, it’s significantly impacting certain freelance sectors, potentially foreshadowing broader workforce changes in the future.

And all of this is within the limits of the AI in the realm of GPT4o.  You have to wonder what will happen when we are at the level of GPT5, which is rumoured to be in training now.

Sources include:  Wall Street Journal and Yahoo Finance

An another article in Business Insider asks the question: Has Microsoft become little more than an IT department for OpenAI? This provocative question comes  from insider concerns about Microsoft’s AI strategy becoming overly focused on its partnership with the AI startup.

According to the report, Microsoft’s AI Platform team, led by Eric Boyd, has shifted significantly towards supporting the OpenAI partnership. This has reportedly led to decreased focus on Microsoft’s homegrown AI initiatives and the departure of some executives.

One former Microsoft executive, speaking anonymously, stated, “The former Azure AI is basically just tech support for OpenAI.” They added that while this might not be very innovative, it could be a good business strategy.

The Azure OpenAI service now reportedly has hundreds of developers supporting customers using OpenAI’s GPT models. The partnership has become so close that some Microsoft employees have badges to access OpenAI’s offices, and vice versa.

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw defended the company’s approach, saying, “We’re the ones shipping this,” emphasizing Microsoft’s role in bringing AI tools to market. However, the article raises important questions about the balance between partnerships and in-house innovation in the rapidly evolving AI landscape.

I’m of a slightly different mind about this – in world where, if Sam Altman is right, “compute is currency” I’m not sure that concentrating on building the Azure infrastructure isn’t the absolute right strategy to follow.

Sources include: Business Insider

Well, that’ll cheer you up on a Monday morning. I did look for anything uplifting. As a bonus I didn’t harp on the continued interruption of car dealerships or the devastating hack of health records in the UK. I’ll leave that up to our sister podcast Cyber Security Today.

And that’s our show for today.

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a daily news show, with a weekend interview show we call the Weekend Edition.

Show notes are at technewsday.ca or .com  – either one works.

We love your comments.  Contact me at editorial@technewsday.ca

I’m your host Jim Love. After this bad news, there’s nowhere to go but up today. So have a Marvelous Monday.

 

 

 

 

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