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Last Week in AI #172: Controversy over Google's "sentient" chatbot, DALL-E Mini goes viral, Reddit bans deepfakes sub, AI to improve video calls, and more!
Hype and chaos ensued after a Google engineer claimed the company's AI-based chatbot is sentient, DALL-E Mini brings AI image generation to the public, Reddit bans community hosting SFW deepfakes
On June 11, Google engineer Blake Lemoine published an “interview” he and a collaborator at Google conducted with the language model-powered chatbot LaMDA, which Lemoine argued was evidence that LaMDA is “sentient“. On the same day, the article “The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life” was published on The Washington Post and immediately made this event one of the most discussed AI-related stories of the year. AI experts universally argued that LaMDA is not sentient whatsoever, and warned that this story is likely to exacerbate misunderstanding of modern day AI. Following his publication of the interview transcript, Lemoine was put on administrative leave, with the stated reason being breach of confidentiality.
Our take: The transcript Lemoine released contains portions in which LaMDA explicitly states that it is sentient, and so it may be tempting to consider his claims to at least be possibly true. However, these statements have a simple explanation: Lemoine posed leading questions that implied or directly stated LaMDA is sentient. LaMDA is primarily powered by a large language model, akin to GPT-3, which essentially means that it is trained to predict the most likely responses to any input text. So, LaMDA simply '“played along” with the notion that it is sentient. Janelle Shane has shown that LaMDA can easily be made to say that it is a squirrel, T-Rex, or the Chicago River.
DALL-E Mini, an openly accessible AI text-to-image generator, has become very popular on the Internet. Recent advances in image generation include impressive systems like OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 and Google’s Imagen, but these are closed-sourced (the code is not public) and not publically available (although OpenAI does have a waitlist for DALL-E 2). By contrast, DALL-E Mini (not associated w/ OpenAI) has a website anyone can access online, and its generated images quickly spread through news and social media (see links below).
The DALL-E Mini tech report describes how the entire system is trained with open-source code and openly accessible datasets. DALL-E Mini is much smaller and takes only a couple hundred dollars to train, compared to probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions, for the larger models. While the image fidelity is lower than its closed-source counterparts, DALL-E Mini can still generate impressive images from unstructured text descriptions.
Our take: This is a truly exciting time for AI development as such capabilities, for a while thought to be only accessible behind the vast compute clusters of big tech companies, are beginning to become more accessible by the general public. DALL-E Mini demonstrates advances in AI techniques and tooling so that even small systems can achieve impressive results. Public access to such AI models can also help everyone better understand the current capabilities and limitations of AI. We encourage readers to play with the model themselves and see what kind of images the model excels at generating, and what kinds it struggles with.
Are forums for posting deepfakes destined to become pornographic? While the AI-porn-ridden /r/deepfakes subreddit was banned in 2018, /r/deepfakesfw was, ostensibly, safe for work. But as of Monday, June 13, the subreddit now greets users with the explanation that it "was banned due to a violation of Reddit's rules against involuntary pornography." As it turns out, /r/deepfakesfw was indeed safe for work--but the request of pornographic deepfakes triggered its ban. According to unite.ai, the ban suggests that Reddit is unwilling to become a "classified ad" forum for users to exchange inappropriate deepfakes through DMs.
Our Take: This news follows Google's decision to ban deepfake-creation software from Colab, which appears to be based on keywords. unite.ai makes the interesting point that remaining deepfake subreddits still exist because of constant moderation. This poses the question of whether platforms and websites will ban all deepfake communities on principle or bear the burden of monitoring for NSFW material. Code-hosting platforms like GitHub will have to reckon with this as well. I think that deepfake communities will be incredibly hard to squash entirely, but their reach might be mitigated if large, popular platforms ban them on principle. At the same time, digital goods are easy to transmit and wholesale bans breed creative ways to get around them. Deepfake communities are unlikely to disappear--it remains to be seen in what form they will persist.
Microsoft added an AI-based speech filter to Teams, which performs echo cancellation by taking into consideration the participants’ room acoustics. The software used 30,000 hours of speech to help train its models and captured thousands of devices through crowdsourcing where Teams users are paid to record their voice and playback audio from their device. They also simulate about 100,000 different rooms for improving room acoustics data collection. With the inclusion of this machine learning model, participants can now interrupt each other on Team calls without the awkward overlap where we can’t hear the other person due to the echo.
Our Take: If anything, the last few years have made everyone comfortable with working remotely and everyone understands it is here to stay. Consequently, efforts on building better tools to ensure the same work experience are important. Issues with sound have existed on these tools and hinder the meeting experience. Incorporating such echo cancellation tools taking into consideration the various room acoustics could solve a big problem with such meeting experiences and enable more “natural” and mirror in-person meetings. The future of this technology is exciting and we hope this continues to enrich virtual meetings while considering the caution surrounding user sound and voice recordings.
Latest Podcast Episode - GPT-4chan, ’Sentient’ AI, Tesla Crash Probe, BIG-bench, DALL-E mini
AI finds hidden evidence of ancient human fires 1 million years ago - "An artificial intelligence tool has revealed hidden evidence of ancient fire at a 1-million-year-old archaeological site in Israel."
Artificial intelligence may be the only way researchers can solve the perplexing puzzle of Long COVID. It’s already categorizing patients and even identifying them - "Increasingly, researchers are turning to artificial intelligence to help them sort through the electronic medical records of millions of Long COVID patients in hopes of better understanding the enigmatic condition with hundreds of potential symptoms."
444 Authors From 132 Institutions Release BIG-bench: A 204-Task ‘Extremely Difficult and Diverse’ Benchmark for Large Language Models - "Powered by their ever-increasing scale, today’s large language models have shown breakthrough capabilities beyond natural language processing (NLP), in areas such as writing computer code, diagnosing medical conditions and playing competitive games."
NVIDIA & UW Introduce Factory: A Set of Physics Simulation Methods and Learning Tools for Contact-Rich Robotic Assembly - "When we think of modern industrial assembly lines, we can imagine a tireless ensemble of task-specific robots efficiently cutting, stamping, connecting, inserting, tightening or soldering whatever product the factory is manufacturing."
Microsoft and Meta join Google in using AI to help run their data centers - "Data centers, which drive the apps, websites, and services that billions of people use every day, can be hazardous places for the workers that build and maintain them. Workers sometimes have to service a data center’s electrical equipment while it’s being energized."
China launched the world's first AI-operated 'mother ship,' an unmanned carrier capable of launching dozens of drones - "China has launched the world's first crewless drone carrier that uses artificial intelligence to navigate autonomously in open water. Beijing has officially described it as a maritime research tool, but some experts have said the ship has the potential to be used as a military vessel."
How AI Could Help Predict—and Avoid—Sports Injuries, Boost Performance - "Computer vision, the technology behind facial recognition, will change the game in real-time analysis of athletes and sharpen training prescriptions, analytics experts say Resume Subscription"
This AI model tries to re-create the mind of Ruth Bader Ginsburg - "The model, called Ask Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is based on 27 years of Ginsburg’s legal writings on the Supreme Court."
Artificial intelligence projects grew tenfold over past year, survey says - "We know artificial intelligence has been riding the crest of the hype wave, but we don't hear enough about the problems and headaches it brings with it. A new survey estimates the number of complete or nearly complete AI projects has grown tenfold over the past 12 months."
AI maturity: Only 12% of companies are 'AI Achievers' - "Only 12% of companies are AI Achievers. According to Accenture, in 2021, among executives of the world's 2,000 largest companies (by market capitalization), those who discussed AI on their earnings calls were 40% more likely to see their firms' share prices increase -- up from 23% in 2018."
AI startup Cohere launches a nonprofit research lab - "Cohere, a startup creating large language models to rival those from OpenAI, today announced the launch of a nonprofit research lab: Cohere For AI."
Machine learning-led decarbonisation platform Ecolibrium launches in the UK - "Machine learning-led decarbonisation platform Ecolibrium has today launched its revolutionary sustainability solution in the UK, as the race to reduce carbon emissions accelerates across the built environment."
World’s first raspberry picking robot cracks the toughest nut: soft fruit - "The next raspberries you eat might have been picked by a Kraken-like four-armed robot, rather than a human. Fruit harvested by what is believed to be the world’s first raspberry-picking robot in commercial operation is now on sale in British supermarkets."
AI-powered parking platform Metropolis bags $167M - "Metropolis, a startup building payment infrastructure for parking facilities, today announced that it raised $167 million in a Series B round co-led by 3L Capital and Assembly Ventures with participation from Dragoneer, Eldridge Industries, Silver Lake Waterman, UP Partners, and former deputy mayor"
Grubhub rolling out delivery robots at Ohio State - "This fall, students at Ohio State University can get robot-based food delivery as part of the meal plan."
Enterprise Conversational AI Startup Invoca Raises $83M - "Conversation analytics startup Invoca has raised $83 million in a Series F equity financing round led by Silver Lake Waterman. The new capital brings the company’s valuation to $1.1 billion for its AI-powered contact center call analysis, agent coaching, and automated quality assurance."
Drivers using Tesla Autopilot were involved in hundreds of crashes in just 10 months - "Vehicles using Tesla's Autopilot software were involved in 273 crashes over roughly the last year, according to a report released Wednesday by the US road-safety regulator."
Tesla Autopilot and Other Driver-Assist Systems Linked to Hundreds of Crashes - "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released data on 10 months of crashes involving cars with automated components. A few were fatal."
Google AI Fracas Shows How The Modern Ad-Based Press Tends To Devalue The Truth - "The Washington Post dropped what it pretended was a bit of a bombshell."
AI Ethics Are In Danger. Funding Independent Research Could Help - "Across industries, a turn to artificial intelligence (AI) has become ubiquitous, if not completely hegemonic. It’s not just Meta, Google, Apple, and Amazon—nearly every large company has pivoted to AI."
AI and Warfare - "What’s this about: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has propelled war onto our screens and front page once again, making it an unwelcome but current topic of conversation and undesirable attention. But how is AI affecting war?"
Is AI the future of art? - "Sofia Crespo is part of the 'generative art' movement, in which humans create rules for computers which then use algorithms to generate new forms, ideas and patterns."
What AI Can Tell Us About Intelligence - "If there is one constant in the field of artificial intelligence it is exaggeration: there is always breathless hype and scornful naysaying. It is helpful to occasionally take stock of where we stand."
Self-Driving Big Rigs Are Coming. Is America Ready? - "Autonomous trucks that mostly stick to highways could make sense, both technologically and economically, in ways robotaxis have not. The goal is better-than-human, but not perfect, autonomous driving; jobs are probably on the line."
What FDA’s New Machine Learning Guiding Principles Really Mean - "Machine Learning has been an ongoing focus of FDA activity for some time. The first Industry Discussion Paper on the topic was launched back in 2019, followed by an Action Plan in 2021 aimed at offering guidance on the topic."
FTC recommends Congress use ‘great caution’ in promoting AI to address online harm - "The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommended Congress proceed with caution in promoting artificial intelligence (AI) tools to combat online harm in a report the commissioners voted to publish Thursday.”
Privacy bill sets out rules on use of personal data, artificial intelligence - "The federal Liberals introduced privacy legislation Thursday to give Canadians more control over their personal data, impose fines on non-compliant digital platforms and introduce new rules for the use of artificial intelligence."
EU To Target Meta, Google, Twitter Over Deepfakes, Report Says - "The European Commission is expected to target Facebook parent Meta, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Twitter on Thursday with new measures to tackle deepfakes, fake news and fake accounts or face hefty fines, according to reports from Reuters and Financial Times."
AI Shakespeare and AI Oscar Wilde Debate Machine Creativity at Oxford - "If that reads a little like Shakespeare defending humans’ innate superiority over artificial intelligence hundreds of years ahead of his time, it’s not. But it is something almost as far out: an AI system trained to express itself like the bard."
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