The very popular AI-tool, ChatGPT, has recently announced its initial support for plugins. This announcement has opened a wide door for third-party innovators to ride on the power and popularity of the tool. It just unlocked so much potential for so many things. To many people, including myself, it is like watching the birth of the computer all over again. Or Apple announcing apps on a phone which resulted in a paradigm shift as far as our use of phones is concerned. For something that was just introduced last November 2022, the exponential growth in innovations on top of it and the number of users, almost 600 million as of last January, is just amazing. It is only March 2023 and ChatGPT seems to look like it is bigger than life itself!
Plugins are designed to extend the functionalities and possibilities in the use of the tool. Look at it as what super apps like Grab did when they plugged hundreds of thousands of establishments into their system that created a do-all ecosystem for users. Plugins will now allow ChatGPT to address queries and instructions, expand its sources of information, do complex mathematical computations, and data visualization. Remember, the current version of the tool is only trained for 2021 information but with the use of third-part plugins, it is now able to provide up-to-date information. I know that a few Philippine-based innovators have joined the long line of waitlisted plugins.
My first article this year (Digital Detoxification, Tech4GOOD, Jan. 3, 2023, Manila Bulletin) was fully created by ChatGPT. I wanted to show readers how powerful the tool is as far as content writing is concerned. It generated a lot of reactions from readers ranging from amazement, and excitement, to fear for the future of humanity. Since that time, I have read about exciting use cases coming from all over the globe in the field of medicine, education, and almost everything else. The ground seems to be continuously shifting under our feet and the world changing fast before our eyes.
In the field of medicine, the tool is used to summarize notes of medical professionals and provide key details like diagnoses and suggest treatment management. A colleague recently went through laboratory tests and had ChatGPT interpret the results. It came back complete with diagnoses and recommended treatment management. He brought the laboratory results to his doctor and was amazed at the level of similarities between what he got from the AI tool to what he heard from his doctor. I strongly urge, though, that readers not rely on the tool for the treatment of any medical condition.
In the field of tech innovation, ChatGPT is certainly seen as leveling the playing field and empowering even startups to learn and create. Philippine innovators should take advantage of this opportunity. Never mind about creating a clone, the easier path is to develop plugins to work on top of the tool to further expand its capabilities.
Naturally, with powerful tools like this, a Pandora’s Box of associated risks comes into play. With its capability to source data and information from everywhere that is on the web, I can imagine the amount of sensitive business and personal data including copyrighted materials users are going to be able to harvest using the tool. Even at the level of power, it has right now, it is not far-fetched that rogue hackers will use the tool to automate their operations. What about the impact on the future of workers and workplaces?
Even with the current level of popularity of ChatGPT, I assume that, at the most, only 20 percent of humanity is aware of this frontier technology and is able to visualize how the tool, or AI in general, will have a very profound impact on how our future will look like. What about the rest? We need to address this, or else, it will just worsen the digital divide that we have now.
I queried ChatGPY on the need to regulate its use and the development of AI in general. This is the gist of the reply I got.
“The development of AI including ChatGPT presents great opportunities, it is important to ensure that AI is developed and deployed in a way that is safe, responsible, and aligned with the values and goals of society as a whole. While there are potential risks for AI technology, such as the possibility of bias or misuse, it is ultimately up to the organizations and individuals who use the tool to ensure that they are using it responsibly and ethically. The regulation of AI technologies is an important and ongoing topic among informed policymakers, industry leaders, and the general public. There are a variety of regulatory approaches that could be considered, such as transparency requirements, data privacy requirements, restrictions on certain applications of AI, and ethical guidelines.”
Well said ChatGPT. You may have just turned my excitement about AI into fear.
(The author is the lead convenor of the Alliance for Technology Innovators for the Nation (ATIN), vice president of the Analytics Association of the Philippines, and vice president, UP System Information Technology Foundation.)