Researchers are excited about the AI — but many are frustrated that its underlying engineering is cloaked in secrecy.
(16 Mar 2023) OpenAI this week unveiled GPT-4, the latest incarnation of the large language model that powers its popular chat bot ChatGPT. The company says GPT-4 contains big improvements — it has already stunned people with its ability to create human-like text and generate images and computer code from almost any a prompt. Researchers say these abilities have the potential to transform science — but some are frustrated that they cannot yet access the technology, its underlying code or information on how it was trained. That raises concern about the technology’s safety and makes it less useful for research, say scientists.
One upgrade to GPT-4, released on 14 March, is that it can now handle images as well as text. And as a demonstration of its language prowess, Open AI, which is based in San Francisco, California, says that it passed the US bar legal exam with results in the ninetieth centile, compared with the tenth centile for the previous version of ChatGPT. But the tech is not yet widely accessible — only to paid subscribers to ChatGPT so far have access.
“There’s a waiting list at the moment so you cannot use it right now,” Says Evi-Anne van Dis, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam. But she has seen demos of GPT-4. “We watched some videos in which they demonstrated capacities and it’s mind blowing,” she says. One instance, she recounts, was a hand-drawn doodle of a website, which GPT-4 used to produce the computer code needed to build that website, as a demonstration of the ability to handle images as inputs.
But there is frustration in the science community over OpenAI’s secrecy around how and what data the model was trained, and how it actually works. “All of these closed-source models, they are essentially dead-ends in science,” says Sasha Luccioni, a research scientist specializing in climate at HuggingFace, an open-source-AI community. “They [OpenAI] can keep building upon their research, but for the community at large, it’s a dead end.”
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