OpenAI, the AI Revolution Part 1: Is the Hype Justified? (Benoit Hediard)

Benoit Hediard

Is the Hype Justified?

Since the public launch of ChatGPT in November 2023, the AI landscape has undergone a profound transformation. I recently had the opportunity to deliver a talk at Web2Day 2023, delving into this subject and reflecting on the impact of OpenAI on our society and the global tech ecosystem.

“a robot with a revolution flag, in a street, followed by a crowd, wes anderson style” — Midjourney v5.1

This recent surge in AI hype is quite abrupt. If you look at the search volume for the term “AI” over the past five years, it remained relatively stagnant until November 30, 2022, when OpenAI sparked the AI revolution with ChatGPT.

Google Trends — “AI” search volume during the last 5 years

What unfolded in just six months to generate such hype? Does it merit the attention? And what kind of impact can we expect in the future? Let’s delve into these questions in this two-part series!

Part 1 is about the AI hype, is it justified?
Part 2 is about the impact on startups

“1980s young hipster passionate about AI, Wes Anderson style” — Midjourney v5.1

Note: for my presentation slides, I utilized Midjourney v5.1 to generate all the illustrations, employing a simple prompt with an “Anderson style” to maintain a consistent and trendy aesthetic. See above and below :nerd_face:

I also relied on ChatGPT to assist me in copywriting the content, and it proved to be a lifesaver, especially for a non-native English speaker :fr:.

What’s AI?

Essentially, AI is all about making computers think and learn more like humans.

The concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) began to take shape in the mid-20th century. The term “Artificial Intelligence” was first coined by John McCarthy for the Dartmouth Conference in 1956, which is often considered the birth of AI as a field of study.

Image: History of AI — Source: Nvidia

Breakthroughs in two domains known as Machine Learning and Deep Learning have exponentially enhanced the efficiency and agility with which AI systems can assimilate knowledge and tackle challenges.

2023 trends

The AI making headlines over the past half year typically share three traits:

  • they’re trained using massive data sets. That’s why we call them Large Language Models (LLMs), like OpenAI GPT,
  • these models are generative. This means they can create new content, be it text, images, sounds, videos, 3D objects, or even computer code. This is a step up from older AI models, which were mostly used for categorizing things or making predictions or scoring,
  • they remain narrow/weak AI, specialized in doing a specific task. For instance, OpenAI GPT focuses on understanding and generating human language, a field known as Natural Language Processing, or NLP. ChatGPT is s still far from an Artificial General Intelligence (aka AGI). It’s not suitable or prepared for tasks such as driving a car or assisting with household chores :grimacing:

Image: 3 types of AI

It’s the burning question that captures the spotlight: the anticipated emergence of AGI, highly autonomous systems or machines that possess the ability to understand, learn, and perform any intellectual task that a human being can do.

Yet, consensus among experts remains elusive! While some foresee its advent within the next 5 to 10 years, others believe it won’t be achievable in the near future.

The AI Hype

From the start of this year, AI and ChatGPT is turning up everywhere you look: in newspapers, on the radio, TV, and even sparks discussions over dinner with friends or family.

Image: “people shouting in megaphones, in a city, Wes Anderson style” — Midjourney v5.1

Undeniably, Generative AI is currently riding the hype wave of “Technology Hype Cycle”. Are we going to delve soon into the trough of disillusionment like the previous hypes of Metaverse, Web3, or AR/VR?

Image: Generative AI and Gartner’s “Technology Hype Cycle”

Bill Gates wrote a long blog post in March 2023, titled “The Age of AI Has Begun” (a must-read), where he stated:

“The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone”
Bill Gates

Like Bill Gates, there’s a rising chorus of voices proclaiming that Artificial Intelligence, or AI, will revolutionize society in ways akin to the advent of the Internet, Social Networks, or Mobile phones.

Three factors bolster this belief:

  1. the rapid pace of innovation,
  2. widespread acceptance among individual consumers (B2C),
  3. and enthusiastic adoption in the business-to-business sector (B2B).

1. Rapid pace of innovation

Innovation in the AI field is currently progressing at a mind-boggling speed. It’s hard to stay on top of the whirlwind of updates from this rapidly evolving sector. Since the start of 2023, every week has been packed with significant announcements — groundbreaking research papers, innovative open-source models, or trailblazing demonstrations by private AI companies.

Image: a very surprised, astonished, scientific, working on a robot, in a lab, Wes Anderson style” — Midjourney v5.1

This dizzying acceleration stems from several key factors:

  1. Data Availability: We’re creating more data than ever, providing ample fuel for AI development.

  2. Computational Power: Technological advancements and cloud computing have expanded the computational power at our disposal.

  3. Emergence of New Models and Techniques: Concepts like Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning have shown impressive potential.

  4. Open Source and Collaboration: Sharing open-source frameworks and research findings accelerates the dissemination of novel ideas.

  5. Investment in AI: Increased financial backing from public and private entities is driving research and practical applications.

This pace of progress reached a tipping point around 2016 and 2017. At this juncture, Narrow AI models — those focused on tasks such as handwriting and speech recognition, image understanding, reading comprehension, and language processing — began consistently outperforming humans, indicating a significant leap in AI capabilities.

Image: AI Pace of innovation — Source: Our World in Data

Intriguingly, the years 2016 and 2017 also marked a pivotal shift in the AI landscape. It was around this time that private industry took the lead in AI research, surpassing the contributions made by academic institutions.

Private industry vs Academic institutions — Source: Our World in Data

A another remarkable testament to the swift pace of innovation can be seen in the progress of Midjourney. The quality of images generated by this text-to-image model saw considerable improvements from version 1 in March to version 4 in November 2022 — all within a mere span of 9 months!

Image: “kitten” prompt evolution in 2022 — Midjourney v1 to v4

This rapid advancement underscores the breathtaking speed at which AI technology is evolving. The surge in innovation is most noticeable in text-to-text models (like ChatGPT) and text-to-image models. However, we can anticipate similarly astounding strides soon in audio, video, and 3D generative AI as well.

2. B2C adoption

The initial triumph of emerging technology is often characterized by its ability to offer tangible value to early adopters.

Past technological hype like Crypto Web3, AR/VR, or the Metaverse stumbled at this “immediate value” hurdle, failing to live up to the heightened expectations they generated. None of these technologies managed to capture the spotlight that AI, particularly with the introduction of ChatGPT, has seized. In fact, ChatGPT astoundingly amassed a user base of 100 million in a mere span of two months!

Image: Time to reach 100M users

Users were astounded by its capabilities and swiftly incorporated its use into their daily routines, whether personal or professional.

3. Tech giants and B2B initiatives

Following this rapid increase in consumer adoption of AI, tech giants such as Google and Microsoft have accelerated their AI initiatives. While these companies were already covertly working on AI to enhance their existing services, the unexpected public release and success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT has likely disrupted their carefully laid out roadmap.

Image: “AI robots fighting, wes anderson style” — Midjourney v5.1

A thrilling race is underway among those tech heavyweights, with Microsoft currently holding a slight edge, courtesy of OpenAI:

  • Microsoft AI enhances Microsoft Office, Windows Bing Chat, and Azure AI cloud services with proprietary models (powered by OpenAI).
  • Google AI enhances Google Workspace, launched Bard (ChatGPT competitor), and GCP AI cloud services with proprietary models.
  • Meta AI focuses primarily on R&D and open source initiatives.
  • AWS AI prefers to keep a democratic multi-model approach, providing the infrastructure to easily run proprietary or open source models.
  • Apple’s AI strategy remains intriguingly enigmatic.

You’ll find fascinating insights in this summary of Google IO 2023 keynote… :slight_smile:

It’s evident that the buzz around AI is not mere hype but is being substantiated thanks to those three main reasons: impressive pace of innovation, general public immediate adoption and Tech giants expediting their AI initiatives.

It’s truly remarkable to witness the acceleration of the AI landscape in just half a year. As the saying goes, if “software is eating the world,” then “AI is gobbling up the world” appears to be the next phase.

It’s also worth noting the entrepreneurial spirit in this arena. Startups are bustling to ride this wave of hype, capitalizing on marketing opportunities while also addressing real-world challenges with practical AI solutions.

Now let’s dive into this topic in Part 2: What Impact on Startups?

Benoit Hediard
Agorapulse CTO and co-founder. Passionate about Bootstrapped Startups, SaaS, Remote, Social Media, Lean/DevOps, Cloud/AWS, Java/Micronaut/Angular, UX/UI

Tell Us Below:

Do you think the AI hype is justified?