New headlines scream that machines are coming alive and humanity is nearly doomed by the potential of artificial intelligence. From the New York Times to the Associated Press, ChatGPT dominates the tech articles with words of caution and fantastical descriptions of what the future may hold. Is ChatGPT worth all of the media hype? Are we all doomed to succumb to AI? In reality, artificial intelligence is older than any of us alive today, and the answers lie in its history.
AI in the past
Even the Ancient Greeks were fascinated by the idea of bringing something inanimate to life. The myth of Talos describes an automated, metal being (essentially an AI robot), created by the goddess Hephaestus. In the story, Talos is tasked with protecting the island of Crete. Inventors and philosophers throughout the following centuries took these stories to heart, building their own “automatons” which moved independently.
Charles Babbage, namesake of one of OpenAI’s language processing models, invented the forerunner to the modern digital computer in the mid-1830s, and his friend and fellow OpenAI model namesake, Ada Lovelace, wrote the first computer program for Babbage’s invention. While computers existed through the end of the 19th Century and into the first half of the 20th Century, they only executed commands. These early computers didn’t store commands for later execution.
Artificial intelligence becomes possible
In the 1950s, Alan Turing put forth his theory of The Imitation Game, and computers gained a key capability: storing commands to run later. This opened the door to actual artificial intelligence. In the 1960s, Joseph Weizenbaum’s ELIZA replicated the conversation style of a psychotherapist and left users feeling unnervingly as if they had interacted with a real human, which delighted and horrified programmers, scientists, mathematicians, and ethicists worldwide.
Modern AI emerges
Artificial intelligence continued to evolve and improve through the 1970s and 1980s, laying the groundwork for early versions of modern AI-powered software. In 1997, Dragon released the first version of its AI speech-to-text transcription program, and IBM’s Deep Blue AI supercomputer beat the reigning world chess champion. The first Roomba launched in 2002, using AI technology to map its cleaning path through residential spaces. NASA sent Spirit and Opportunity to Mars to navigate the landscape autonomously in 2003. Apple’s AI virtual assistant, Siri, first launched on iPhone in 2011.
Every one of these releases felt monumental at the time and rightfully generated accompanying media buzz. They were brand new applications of technology in an increasingly human style. AI capabilities leapt forward with each product.
Perspective on AI development
Today’s society may respect the accomplishments of Weisenbaum’s ELIZA and IBM’s Deep Blue as being advanced for their time, but the programs themselves pale in comparison to the AI algorithms that run all day long on mobile devices. A text prompt that asks the user how they feel about something is no longer unbelievable. Consumers now expect to talk to an AI chatbot when they seek customer service from a corporation.
ChatGPT and Midjourney seem fantastical as of 2023, but that’s because they are the newest development in artificial intelligence. The idea of an intelligent robot has been productized and made available to the masses. Are we impressed by this at MotionMobs? Yes. Is our team thinking critically about the implications of AI on society and advocating for responsible regulation? Absolutely. Are we scared? Not one bit. (We trained an image-recognition AI model back in 2019 to identify sandwiches, if that tells you anything about our feelings.)
Don’t fall victim to the media hype. Artificial intelligence continues to improve, and every big new release will feel revolutionary. It always has. Use the latest AI capabilities to inspire your own creativity and seek ways to apply it to your business and daily life. MotionMobs can help. Drop us a note, and let’s build the next AI tool to revolutionize your business together.