On May 24, 2023

I’ve seen the future of technology


On May 9, 1974, music critic Jon Landau walked into the Harvard Square Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and witnessed a revelatory concert delivered by a 25-year-old, young and impassioned Bruce Springsteen. Landau would write about his experience soon after, inviting the world to buy into the hype that he was peddling. 

And we did.

Springsteen would go on to release 14 Platinum albums, win 20 Grammys and an Oscar, and get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Would any of that have happened without Landau’s praise? Possibly. 

Any writer would sell their soul to have such a brash prediction validated by history. And while I rarely make predictions, I feel strongly enough about this one that I’m going to put it out there: I’ve seen the future of technology and it’s an app named ChatGPT.

If you’ve already heard or experimented with this wondrous app, then you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t heard about ChatGPT, then allow me to make a case for its validity once again (I commented on an online version of ChatGPT back in February, but I had to revisit it with the release of the mobile app).

The name “ChatGPT” certainly doesn’t do much to entice the curious. After all, do we really need another app for chatting? But while all other chat-based apps allow two separate parties to communicate, ChatGPT lets you “communicate” with artificial intelligence (AI).

Of course, chatting with a bot is nothing new; we’ve been doing it on websites for years to get basic consumer questions answered. The difference with ChatGPT, however, is that the experience of chatting is ridiculously human and amazingly helpful in terms of information gathering. 

ChatGPT is a LLM (Large Language Model), a type of deep learning algorithm that can ingest and analyze a dataset and then return responses to specific queries. In other words, you ask ChatGPT questions and it provides you with thoughtful, creative, and interesting answers, and does so in grammatically accurate prose.

Ok, all that’s interesting, but how does that qualify as a tectonic shift in technology? Well, I’ve integrated the app into my personal and work life and I can tell you that it has completely altered how I approach information gathering and productivity. 

In the past, if I had a question about something, I would conduct a search on Google and then peruse the answers until I found what I was looking for. With ChatGPT, I ask a very specific question and then get a very specific answer. I’m not pointed anywhere. And the answer is not based on one data point, but on all the data points available. 

That means ChatGPT could, hypothetically, read 500 articles about a specific Hawaiian flower and then use its AI to construct an educated summary, plus offer insights that may not have been previously available (now you see why teachers are freaking out).

Again, I don’t often recommend products, but downloading ChatGPT and testing it will undoubtedly impress even the most judgmental critic.

But don’t just take my advice. Consider this: the ChatGPT online portal broke all records by amassing 1 million users in its first week of release in November 2022. It then exploded with 9,900% growth in 60 days to 100 million users. By April of this year, that number was at 173 million users. It is now readily agreed that ChatGPT is the fast-growing digital platform in history.  And it’s not going away because Microsoft (who already invested $1 billion in parent company OpenAI) has just announced another infusion of $10 billion. Sounds risky? Well, if the people involved are correct, once monetized, ChatGPT should earn $1 billion by the end of 2024. And it’s only going to get better.

Those numbers are beyond staggering. But as I stated, it’s not luck. ChatGPT is an astonishing leap forward in AI and something everyone should try. So, go ahead. Download the app and ask ChatGPT to write you a short story about two ducks at the rodeo searching for the meaning of life. And then ask it to write the story as if the author were William Shakespeare. You won’t be disappointed.

This week’s film, “Brian and Charles,” also features an AI robot. But this robot, while technically impressive, is a far cry from ChatGPT.  

This is one of those quiet and understated films that you don’t expect to like, but end up admiring deeply. There’s some quirky humor and heartfelt tugs at sentimentality all wrapped up in a well-crafted, albeit simplistic, storyline. In other words, it’s a good rainy day film.

A well-programmed “B” for “Brian and Charles,” now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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