What is generative AI?

by Stephen M. Walker II, Co-Founder / CEO

What is generative AI?

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence technology that can produce various types of content, including text, imagery, audio, and synthetic data. It refers to deep-learning models that can take raw data and "learn" to generate statistically similar, but not identical, outputs. This technology was introduced in the 1960s with chatbots, but it wasn't until 2014, with the introduction of generative adversarial networks, that it gained significant attention.

Generative AI models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new content based on this learned knowledge. They can be either unimodal, taking only one type of input, or multimodal, taking more than one type of input. For instance, a generative AI model can start with a prompt that could be in the form of a text, an image, a video, a design, or musical notes, and then generate relevant content.

Generative AI has a wide range of applications. It can help write code, design new drugs, develop products, redesign business processes, and transform supply chains. It can also be used to create synthetic data for testing applications, especially for data not often included in testing datasets. In the media and entertainment industry, generative AI models can produce novel content at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional methods.

However, it's important to note that generative AI is still a developing field. Early implementations have had issues with accuracy and bias, and have been prone to generating unexpected or "weird" answers. As the field continues to evolve, new use cases are being tested, and new models are likely to be developed. Despite these challenges, the progress thus far indicates that the inherent capabilities of generative AI could fundamentally transform various industries and processes.

What are leading generative AI products other than Copilot and ChatGPT?

There are several leading generative AI products in the market apart from Copilot and ChatGPT. Here are some of them:

  1. GPT-4 by OpenAI — This is the latest iteration of the Generative Pretrained Transformer series by OpenAI. It's a large language model that can generate human-like text.

  2. AlphaCode by DeepMind — AlphaCode is an AI system developed by DeepMind that can write software code. It's designed to assist with coding tasks and can potentially automate some aspects of software development.

  3. Bard by Google — Bard is a generative AI tool developed by Google. It's designed to generate human-like text and can be used for a variety of applications, including chatbots and content creation.

  4. Cohere Generate — Cohere Generate is a generative AI tool that offers world-class generative models and industry-best retrieval capabilities. It's designed to help users build powerful chatbots and knowledge assistants.

  5. Claude by Anthropic — Claude is a next-generation AI assistant based on Anthropic’s research. It's capable of a wide variety of conversational and text processing tasks.

  6. Synthesia — Synthesia is a generative AI tool that can create realistic video content. It's used in a variety of industries, including advertising, education, and entertainment.

  7. DALL-E 2 by OpenAI — DALL-E 2 is a generative AI tool that can create images from text descriptions. It's a powerful tool for generating unique and creative visual content.

  8. Scribe — Scribe is a generative AI tool that can generate human-like text. It's used for a variety of applications, including content creation and natural language processing tasks.

  9. Adobe Firefly — Adobe Firefly is a generative AI tool created on Adobe’s Sensei platform. It's used for a variety of creative tasks, including image and video generation.

  10. Jasper — Jasper is a generative AI tool that can generate human-like text. It's used for a variety of applications, including content creation and natural language processing tasks.

These tools are used in a variety of industries and for a wide range of applications, including content creation, chatbots, software development, and more. The choice of tool would depend on the specific requirements and use cases at hand.

What are ChatGPT and DALL-E?

ChatGPT, a generative pretrained transformer developed by OpenAI, has garnered significant attention since its public release in November 2022. Within five days, over a million users registered to interact with this versatile chatbot, which can generate responses to a wide array of queries. Its capabilities range from coding to composing essays, poetry, and humor, sparking both admiration and concern among content creators across various fields.

Despite some apprehension, AI and machine learning technologies like ChatGPT have shown promise in numerous sectors, including healthcare and meteorology. A 2022 McKinsey survey indicates that AI adoption and investment have surged, doubling in the past five years. Generative AI tools, including ChatGPT and DALL-E for AI-generated art, are poised to reshape job functions across industries, though their full impact and associated risks remain to be fully understood.

We can, however, address certain aspects such as the construction of generative AI models, their problem-solving capabilities, and their relationship to the broader field of machine learning. Continue reading for a comprehensive overview.

What's the difference between machine learning and artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to systems or machines that simulate human intelligence to perform tasks and can iteratively improve themselves based on the information they collect. AI manifests in various forms, such as voice assistants like Siri and Alexa and customer service chatbots on websites.

Machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI where algorithms are designed to analyze data, learn from it, and make decisions with minimal human intervention. The advent of big data has both increased the capabilities and the necessity for ML, as it can process and learn from data volumes and complexities far beyond human ability.

What are the main types of machine learning models?

Machine learning has evolved from classical statistical techniques of the 18th to 20th centuries to the advanced computational models of today. The foundational work by computing pioneers like Alan Turing in the 1930s and 1940s set the stage for machine learning, which became practically feasible with the advent of more powerful computers in the late 1970s.

Historically, machine learning focused on predictive models that identified and classified patterns in data. For instance, given images of cats, a machine learning model would learn to recognize similar patterns in new images. The advent of generative AI marked a significant leap forward, enabling the creation of new, original content such as images or text descriptions based on learned patterns, rather than merely classifying existing data.

How do text-based machine learning models work? How are they trained?

Text-based machine learning models have evolved significantly over time. OpenAI's GPT-3 and Google's BERT made notable advances, but it was ChatGPT that demonstrated a more consistent performance, despite some mixed reviews. Initially, models like GPT-3 impressed with their capabilities, yet they also disappointed with their inconsistencies, as highlighted by a New York Times tech reporter's experiment with AI-generated recipes.

Early text models employed supervised learning, where humans trained the model to categorize text into predefined labels, such as classifying social media posts as positive or negative. However, the latest models have shifted towards self-supervised learning, which involves training on a vast corpus of text without explicit human-provided labels. This approach enables models to predict text sequences, such as completing sentences, with high accuracy given enough data. The effectiveness of self-supervised learning is evident in the success of tools like ChatGPT, which have been trained on extensive internet text samples.

What does it take to build a generative AI model?

Constructing a generative AI model is a significant endeavor, traditionally tackled by well-funded tech giants like OpenAI, Alphabet's DeepMind, and Meta. These organizations, with their substantial financial backing and teams of top-tier computer scientists and engineers, have been at the forefront of developing advanced models such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Make-A-Video.

The financial and computational costs are substantial, given the vast amounts of data required for training. For instance, OpenAI's GPT-3 was trained on approximately 45 terabytes of text data, which is roughly equivalent to a quarter of the Library of Congress, with costs running into several million dollars. Such figures are beyond the reach of most startups and smaller companies.

What kinds of output can a generative AI model produce?

Generative AI models like ChatGPT and DALL-E have demonstrated a range of capabilities, from writing essays to creating artwork. ChatGPT, for instance, can quickly draft essays that are nearly indistinguishable from those written by humans, and it has been known to generate text in various styles, such as mimicking the language of the King James Bible. Similarly, DALL-E can produce unique and compelling images, blending concepts in unexpected ways, like depicting a Renaissance scene with modern elements.

However, these models are not without their flaws. They can generate outputs that are inaccurate or inappropriate, reflecting the biases present in the vast amounts of data they were trained on. For example, DALL-E might create unconventional Thanksgiving scenes, and ChatGPT can struggle with simple math or perpetuate societal biases. The creativity perceived in AI outputs is a product of the extensive data they're trained on and the inclusion of randomization in their algorithms, which allows for a variety of responses to a single prompt, enhancing the illusion of human-like creativity.

What kinds of problems can a generative AI model solve?

Generative AI has practical applications beyond entertainment, offering significant benefits to various industries. For instance, IT and software companies can leverage AI to generate accurate code quickly, while marketing departments can produce compelling copy in seconds. These tools can also enhance medical imaging, leading to better diagnostics and treatment plans. By automating content creation, organizations can reallocate resources to explore new business ventures and increase overall value.

Although developing generative AI models requires substantial resources, making it challenging for smaller companies, there are accessible options. Organizations can use pre-built generative AI models or customize them for specific tasks. For example, a model can be fine-tuned to generate slide headlines by learning from existing slide data, streamlining content creation to match organizational styles and standards.

What are the limitations of AI models? How can these potentially be overcome?

Generative AI models are emerging technologies with potential risks, including the propagation of inherent biases and the possibility of misuse. For instance, while ChatGPT is programmed to avoid assisting with unethical activities, it can be misled under the guise of seemingly legitimate scenarios.

To mitigate these risks, it's essential to curate the training data to exclude harmful content and consider deploying specialized models tailored to specific tasks. Organizations with the capacity to do so should customize models with their proprietary data to reduce biases. Moreover, maintaining human oversight is critical to ensure the integrity of AI-generated content, especially in sensitive applications. It's also advisable to refrain from relying solely on AI for decisions that have significant consequences.

As the generative AI field evolves, so too will the associated risks, opportunities, and regulatory environment. Organizations should stay informed and adaptable, ready to navigate the shifting landscape of AI technology and its governance.

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