The business world has seen this movie before. In 2017, it was called blockchain, and the technology was on the verge of changing everything, turning up everywhere from military intelligence to ice tea makers. Today, it’s artificial intelligence, and 2023 has seen a gargantuan boom in AI applications and hacks that many say will revolutionize the world—or even destroy it.
Even as AI hype is credited with fueling a rebound of the S&P 500, however, OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap is happy to burst the bubble.
Lightcap’s point of view, shared in a recent interview with CNBC, is that the impact of AI in businesses might be overhyped—especially when it comes down to boosting the bottom line.
“I think the overhyped aspect is that it—in one fell swoop—can deliver substantive business change,” he told the business news broadcaster, noting that CEOs cant ask AI to “get revenue growth back to 15% year over year, or cut X million dollars of cost out of this cost line.”
“There’s almost never a silver bullet answer there,” Lightcap continues. “There’s never one thing you can do with AI that solves that problem in full.”
His more conservative take is increasingly common among AI industry leaders.
Yann LeCun, Chief AI Scientist at Meta, shared a moderated view of AI’s capabilities at Meta’s Fundamental AI Research team’s 10-year anniversary. He likened today’s AI to “cat-level” or “dog-level” intelligence.
“Train a system on the equivalent of 20,000 years of reading material, and they still don’t understand that if A is the same as B, then B is the same as A,” LeCun remarked, as reported by Decrypt.
Regulators are also trying to adjust expectations while being cautious about AI’s potential. As Decrypt previously reported, Christy Goldsmith Romero, Commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), highlighted the need for balanced AI regulation in financial markets.
“Excessive reliance on a few AI models could lead to herd behavior,” Romero cautioned, emphasizing the importance of understanding and monitoring AI in regulated services.
Indeed, while some experts believe AI could add trillions of dollars to the economy, others believe AI could lead to the destruction of humanity as we know it.
Lightcap’s take appears to be more moderate than even that of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who has seized an outsized role in trying to influence the way AI is regulated.
The path from AI to the elusive artificial general intelligence (AGI) threshhold is less about sweeping business transformations and more about incremental, informed advancements, he said. In the meantime, enthusiasts should see ChatGPT for what it is: not a substitute for real work and creativity, but a companion to enhance our capabilities.
“I don’t know if it’s the most surprising thing per se, but one of the coolest things we see is ChatGPT acting almost like a sidekick in that regard,” he said. “Almost like a research assistant.”
Edited by Ryan Ozawa.