OpenAI’s reported ‘superintelligence’ breakthrough is so big it nearly destroyed the company, and ChatGPT

It now seems entirely possible that ChatGPT parent company OpenAI has solved the 'superintelligence' problem, and is now grappling with the implications for humanity.

In the aftermath of OpenAI's firing and rehiring of its co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, revelations about what sparked the move keep coming. A new report in The Information pins at least the internal disruption on a significant Generative AI breakthrough that could lead to the development of something called 'superintelligence' within this decade or sooner.

Superintelligence is, as you might have guessed, intelligence that outstrips humanity, and the development of AI that's capable of such intelligence without proper safeguards is, naturally, a major red flag.

According to The Information, the breakthrough was spearheaded by OpenAI Chief Scientist (and full-of-regrets board member) Ilya Sutskever. 

It allows AI to use cleaner and computer-generated data to solve problems the AI has never seen before. This means the AI is trained not on many different versions of the same problem, but on information not directly related to the problem. Solving problems in this way – usually math or science problems – requires reasoning. Right, something we do, not AIs.

OpenAI's primary consumer-facing product, ChatGPT (powered by the GPT large language model [LLM]) may seem so smart that it must to be using reason to craft its responses. Spend enough time with ChatGPT, however, and you soon realize it's just regurgitating what it's learned from the vast swaths of data it's been fed, and making mostly accurate guesses about how to craft sentences that make sense and which apply to your query. There is no reasoning involved here.

The Information claims, though, that this breakthrough – which Altman may have alluded to in a recent conference appearance, saying, “on a personal note, just in the last couple of weeks, I have gotten to be in the room, when we sort of like push the sort of the veil of ignorance back and the frontier of discovery forward,” – sent shockwaves throughout OpenAI.

Managing the threat

While there's no sign of superintelligence in ChatGPT right now, OpenAI is surely working to integrate some of this power into, at least, some of its premium products, like GPT-4 Turbo and those GPTs chatbot agents (and future 'intelligent agents').

Connecting superintelligence to the board's recent actions, which Sutskever initially supported, might be a stretch. The breakthrough reportedly came months ago, and prompted Sutskever and another OpenAI scientist, Jan Leike, to form a new OpenAI research group called Superaligment with the goal of developing superintelligence safeguards.

Yes, you heard that right. The company working on developing superintelligence is simultaneously building tools to protect us from superintelligence. Imagine Doctor Frankenstein equipping the villagers with flamethrowers, and you get the idea.

What's not clear from the report is how internal concerns about the rapid development of superintelligence possibly triggered the Altman firing. Perhaps it doesn't matter.

At this writing, Altman is on his way back to OpenAI, the board is refashioned, and the work to build superintelligence – and to protect us from it – will continue.

If all of this is confusing, I suggest you ask ChatGPT to explain it to you.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Nearly 100 Apple Stores in the US will reopen this week, but most won’t let you inside

Almost 100 more Apple Stores are reopening in the US this week, but in most locations, they still won’t let you walk inside: instead, they’re offering curbside or storefront service only.

Apple Stores began reopening in early May with a four-state rollout, which expanded to 11 states later in the month. The next wave of openings will enlarge that list to 28 states, with the majority of locations located in Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas, according to 9to5Mac

It’s not totally clear why some locations are permitting in-store service while others aren’t, but it likely depends on local laws in various state, which have had different approaches to reopening public spaces as the coronavirus outbreak continues. Most of the Apple Stores reopening this week are restricted to curbside and storefront service only, but those that allow in-store service are almost all located in California, Florida, and Texas.

It’s also not clear when locations that only offer storefront and curbside service will open further to allow customers inside, but in the meantime, they’ll still permit order pick-ups (say, if you order an iPhone 11 for in-store pickup) and Genius Bar appointments so long as folks engage in state-required protective measures, like wearing masks and/or submitting to temperature checks.

  • iPhone SE 2020: the long-awaited mid-range redux from Apple
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020): our thoughts on the newest version of the powerhouse 
  • iPad Pro (2020): our hands-on with the newest iPad Pro

Apple Store reopenings: a different case in different countries

Following the course of the coronavirus outbreak, Apple Stores in China closed in February and began reopening in March right as the company confirmed that US stores would be closed ‘until further notice.’

While that seemed indefinite, a leaked internal memo revealed Apple had set a target of early May for reopening US stores, and has followed that projected window. Given the company has safely reopened Apple Stores across countries recovering from the Covid-19 outbreak, we’ll likely see more US locations turn their lights back on in the coming weeks. 

  • iPhone 12: the most powerful yet affordable iPhone on the market

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More