Jonathan Wise

Chief Technology Architect
CESMII – The Smart Manufacturing Institute

For the past decade, the tech world has been in a desperate search for the “next big thing.” PCs, the web, smart phones, and the Cloud have all sailed past their hype curve and settled out into commodities, new technology is needed to excite the consumer and liberate that sweet, sweet ARR.

For awhile, we thought maybe it was Augmented Reality — but Google only succeeded in making “Glassholes” and Microsoft’s Hololens was too clunky to change the world. Then we had 2022’s simultaneous onslaught of “metaverse” and “crytpo”, both co-opted terms leveraged to describe realities that proved to be entirely underwhelming: crypto crashed, and the metaverse was just Mark Zuckerberg’s latest attempt at relevance under a veneer of Virtual Reality (Hey Mark, the 90s called and wanted you know that VR headsets sucked then, and still suck now!)

But 2023 brings a new chance for a dystopian future ruled by technology ripe to abuse the average user. That’s right, Chat is back, and this time its with an algorithm prone to hallucinations!

The fact is, we couldn’t be better primed to accept convincing replies from a text-spouting robot that can’t tell fact from fiction: we’ve been consuming this kind of truthiness from our news media for the past 15 years! And this tech trend seems so great that two of the biggest companies are pivoting themselves around it…

Microsoft, while laying off thousands of employees from unrelated efforts, is spending billions with OpenAI to embed ChatGPT in all their major platforms. Bing always wanted to be an “answers engine” instead of a search engine, now it can give “usefully wrong” answers in full sentences! Developers can subscribe to OpenAI access right from their Cloud developer portal. Teams (that unholy union of Skype and SharePoint) can leverage AI to listen to your meetings and helpfully summarize them. And who wouldn’t want a robot to write your next TPS Report for you in Word, or spruce up your PowerPoints?

Google, who had been more cautious and thoughtful in their approach, is now full steam ahead trying to catch up. Google’s Assistant — already bordering on invasive and creepy — has been reorganized around Bard, their less-convincing chat AI that still manages to be confidently incorrect with startling frequency.

The desperation is frankly palpable: the tech world needs another hit, so ready or not, Large Language Models (LLMs) are here!

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