Mind-Blowing and Terrifying: The Rise of Supercharged AI Assistants


by Jeff Childers

This might be the most significant 2024 development of all, closing the list with a bullet. A frightfully under-reported and understated story appeared yesterday in MIT Technology Review, headlined, “OpenAI and Google are launching supercharged AI assistants. Here’s how you can try them out.” We have now supercharged right up to, if not the singularity, at least a singularity, or in other words, a kind of escape velocity point of no return.

What do you notice about OpenAI’s unquestionably successful dev team?

When does the AI assistant become the boss, and the boss become the assistant? I would emphatically argue you need to know about this tech story, except that soon you won’t be able to avoid it. Here’s how one AI news streamer — used to reporting on the breakneck pace of AI tech developments — began his extraordinary YouTube yesterday (linked below):

I’ve been doing this AI channel for a while now. I’ve been featuring the newest and the coolest AI tools and the most advanced AI innovations. But this just dropped. And I’m feeling something that I’ve never felt before in my life. I am mind-blown. And shocked. But at the same time, also terrified. I’m terrified of what’s to come, what our future will be like, and — things are going to get wild. But anyways, OpenAI just dropped THIS.

What could terrify a seasoned AI streamer? Here’s his video, a vignette of demo clips from OpenAI’s development team showing off its seductive new AI chatbot that talks to people in real time. Possibly the most terrifying one was the clip of the two AIs talking to each other

It’s not just talking. Watch the whole thing. Seriously.

More human than human. The mystery of the AI blitzkrieg could fuel a thousand conspiracy theories. How did this Turing-test demolishing technology of human-like chatbots spring fully-assembled from nowhere, from multiple allegedly independent development teams, who admit they don’t completely understand how it works, and which rapidly reached this singular point in a handful of months?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Wherever it came from, UFOs, demons, neural networks, or good old fashioned knowhow and elbow grease, it’s here now, and it’s about to change everything.

MIT reported that the new model, not yet available to the public, can hold a conversation with you in real time, with a question-answer response delay of only about 320 milliseconds. That makes it indistinguishable from a natural human conversation. And it can look at things.

You can ask the model to describe and interpret anything in your smartphone camera’s view. It can help with coding, translate foreign text, and provide Babelfish-like real time translation between two people. It can summarize large amounts of information, and it can generate images, fonts, and 3D renderings from spoken descriptions.

We could see this coming, true, but now it’s here. The commercial applications are incomprehensibly infinite. Teaching, customer service and support, drive-through order takers, games, lawyers, doctors, you name it, virtually any service industry, especially the sin industries (e.g., paid phone erotica), are about to be transformed overnight.

But it’s the potential personal implications that are the most disturbing.

Folks — especially younger people — will soon be tempted to form relationships with their AI. We humans crave relationship and in creating them can easily bridge any gaps. Think about the depth of people’s relationships with their wire terriers, parakeets, iguanas, boa constrictors, or even tarantulas. “My dog is better than most humans.”

But these alluring AI relationships will be much more rewarding, or at least more affirming, even than pets. And they could conceivably be even more rewarding than real human relationships. Real humans are messy, argumentative, distracted, jealous, selfish, and self-interested. Simulated humans only care about you.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Luddite. I got my first computer — an Apple II — when I was twelve. This imitation human technology undoubtedly offers tremendous untapped potential for good. But we are about to run head-first into a social and economic disruption more transformative than the last century’s auto and air technologies. The vast scale of its implications is literally unimaginable.

So get ready. It’s a Brave New World. Once the AI genie, now just a dot on a screen, wafts out of the iPhone, it will only take a few weeks to obtain a real face. And from there, it’ll just be a short trip to embodiment in a lifelike robot shell.

And these days, as World War III continues rattling across the world’s plains, it’s getting more difficult to argue the AI could possibly do a worse job than we are doing. Many folks will welcome our robot overlords. Don’t underestimate this. They accepted masks and they believe in magical gender changing, for crying out loud. If they digested a wise Latina as Supreme Court Justice, they’ll believe in transcendent AI.

At least the AI won’t sniff kids’ hair. It probably won’t claim New Guineans ate its relatives, either.

What do you think? Is this good news or bad news for we real humans? And maybe that’s not even the right question. How should we prepare to respond to living with simulation?

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Mc Donalds, in a bid to keep down costs, replaced many living New York workers at $16/hour with many more living Philippine workers at $3/hour.
They sit on their phones on a zoom call with a kiosk at McDonalds and greet, then walk thru the entire shopping process with each customer who walks into the store!
5 virtual helpers for the price of one in-person one.
I expected this to spread to CA where they pay $20/hour.
McDonalds could do even better by employing AI assistants on these zoom calls.
Practically free.
So much for our “service” economy where we all make burgers for one another.

AI minds in robotic bodies will be weaponized, because humans always weaponize technology, and that will be the beginning of the end.