In this week’s episode, Robert Marks resumes his conversation with tech consultant and expert Jeffrey Funk. They focus on ChatGPT, its value and limits, and the hype that often accompanies new developments in AI. Additional Resources
In a continuation of last week’s conversation, technology experts Jeffrey Funk and Robert J. Marks explore the question of where today’s technological innovation is fostered. Academia? Private corporations? The military? Since many universities now prize publication over innovation, much of the real progress is being made elsewhere. Additional Resources
AI actually dates back to the 1950s. It is not new, says Funk
March 17, 2023
This week, Robert J. Marks sat down with technology consultant and retired professor Jeffrey Funk, who contributes often to Mind Matters, usually in tandem with Gary Smith. Marks and Funk talked about tech startups, where the industry is headed, and the exaggerated hype that currently attends the discourse over AI. Funk talked about the various stages of AI development. “AI is not new,” he said. AI is 70 years old. ChatGPT and other generative AI models are based on neural networks, which have become economical through Moore’s Law, through this incredible increase in computing power that has been going on since the 1950s. But it’s slowed dramatically. -Jeffrey Funk, Jeffrey Funk on AI, Startups, and Big Tech | Mind Matters Read More ›
In this podcast episode, technology consultant and author Jeffrey Funk joins Robert J. Marks to talk about the artificial intelligence industry, how it’s used by Big Tech, and AI’s exaggerated hype. How do we respond to AI when technology is changing every year? Additional Resources
Something to know before you invest or entertain high hopes: Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith published a recent article in Salon that offers a free cold shower. Some realities they cite: Most of the expense of drug development is in clinical trials on human beings, which can’t be automated. Any attempt to save time or money would come at identifiable costs in accuracy. Yes, COVID vaccines were a banner achievement for speedy drug development. But AI played little or no standout role in the process: Determined to get a COVID-19 vaccine to the public before the November 3, 2020, presidential election, the U.S. government devoted $14 billion to support the pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine efforts. The government agreed to pay Pfizer Read More ›
Let’s start with radiologists: In 2016 Turing Award Winner Geoffrey Hinton advised that “We should stop training radiologists now. It’s just completely obvious that within five years, deep learning is going to do better than radiologists.” Six years later, the number of radiologists has gone up, not down. Researchers have spent billions of dollars working on thousands of radiology image-recognition algorithms that are not as good as human radiologists. Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith, “The right and wrong way to use artificial intelligence” at New York Daily News (August 6, 2022) Technology researcher Jeffrey Funk and business prof Gary Smith could — and probably will — fill a book with examples, some of which they list and link to at Read More ›
Yesterday at Salon, Jeffrey Funk and Gary N. Smith took a critical look at “stealth research” in artificial intelligence. Stealth research? They explain, A lot of stealth research today involves artificial intelligence (AI), which Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s CEO, has compared to mankind’s harnessing of fire and electricity — a comparison that itself attests to overhyped atmosphere that surrounds AI research. For many companies, press releases are more important than peer review. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, the head of Google’s AI group in Seattle, recently reported that LaMDA, Google’s state-of-the-art large language model (LLM), generated this text, which is remarkably similar to human conversation: Blaise: How do you know if a thing loves you back? LaMDA: There isn’t an easy answer Read More ›
In a column published today at MarketWatch, Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith talk about that unpleasant subject, the shady side of Silicon Valley. They’re not looking at the unicorns naively chasing rainbows but rather the cases of apparently deliberate deception. One of them is vaporware— announcing a product that won’t really exist any time soon (perhaps in the hope of dissuading potential buyers from investing in a competitor’s product). Another is “fake it until you make it,” the topic of today’s column. Investors sign on by throwing money at the company, which the company then spends trying to develop what it said it already has. Either way, the company keeps lying as long as necessary, or until its cover is Read More ›
At Fast Company, data analyst Jeffrey Funk and business prof Gary N. Smith dispute the claim that robots are coming for all our jobs. They point to a history of overblown claims: In 1965, Herbert Simon, who would later be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics and the Turing Award (the “Nobel Prize of computing”), predicted that “machines will be capable, within 20 years, of doing any work a man can do.” In 1970, Marvin Minsky, who also received the Turing Award, predicted that, “in from three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being.” The implications for jobs were ominous, but robotic-takeover predictions have been in the air for a Read More ›
Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith, well known to many of our readers, have just published an article at MarketWatch, warning against heedless optimism about “unicorn” stocks. As they put it, “The stock market unleashes its ‘animal spirits’ on an animal that doesn’t exist.” They begin by pointing out that most new businesses flop. The president of one venture capital company estimated the chance of success at one in 1,000. An SEC study of 500 randomly selected new issues found that 43% were confirmed bankrupt, 25% were losing money but still afloat, and 12% had disappeared without a trace. Of the remaining 20%, just 12 companies seemed solid successes — a scant 2% of the companies surveyed. Jeffrey Funk and Gary Read More ›
Nobel Prize-winning economist (2002) Daniel Kahneman, 87 (pictured), gave an interview this month to The Guardian in which he observed that belief in science is not much different from belief in religion with respect to the risks of unproductive noise clouding our judgment. He’s been in the news lately as one of the authors of a new book, Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment, which applies his ideas about human error and bias to organizations. He told The Guardian that he places faith “if there is any faith to be placed,” in organizations rather than individuals, for example. Curiously, he doesn’t seem to privilege science organizations: I was struck watching the American elections by just how often politicians of both Read More ›
Surveying the time line of prophecies that AI will take over “soon” is entertaining. At Slate, business studies profs Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith offer a whirlwind tour starting in the 1950s, with stops along the way at 1970 (“In from three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being”) and at 2014: In 2014, Ray Kurzweil predicted that by 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence and will have all of the intellectual and emotional capabilities of humans, including “the ability to tell a joke, to be funny, to be romantic, to be loving, to be sexy.” As we move closer to 2029, Kurzweil talks more about 2045. Jeffrey Funk and Read More ›
If Moore’s Law fails, AI may settle in as a part of our lives like the automobile but it will not really be the Ruler of All except for those who choose that lifestyle. Even so, a belief that we will, for example, merge with computers by 2045 (the Singularity) is perhaps immune to the march of mere events. Entire arts and entertainment industries depend on the expression of such beliefs.
The slowing Funk refers to is in fundamental innovations like transistors and lasers. The apparent progress often turns out to be in patent applications for a bewildering array of comparatively insignificant mobile phone apps.