California’s New Gold Rush – AI Unleashed

  • The recent activities around artificial intelligence (AI), especially involving OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman, are compared to a new global ‘gold rush’ similar to the original California Gold Rush of the mid-19th century and the internet boom of the 1990s.
  • OpenAI‚Äôs chatbot, ChatGPT4 could potentially outshine IT giants Microsoft, Google, and Facebook by using the vast amounts of data generated globally through social media and web surfing.
  • Issues surrounding Altman and OpenAI include alleged exploitation of data annotation workers in East Africa, and Microsoft’s warning to other search engine companies against using OpenAI products, despite holding a 49% interest in OpenAI.
  • OpenAI, originally founded as a not-for-profit company focused on AI benefits, now also encompasses a for-profit sector which demonstrates similarities to Google’s transition into advertising revenue.

The historical gold rushes in California have been integral in shaping its society and history. The first Gold Rush of 1848-1855 resulted in California’s birth and lead to the decimation and displacement of the indigenous Native American populations. The subsequent infrastructure developments helped to mold its thriving economy today. Meanwhile, the second ‘gold rush’ during the internet boom in the 1990s, while making many young entrepreneurs millionaires, also saw larger, established technology and financial service companies gain a larger stake in internet commerce.

In this context, the AI developments led by OpenAI are seen analogous to a new gold rush. Under discussion is a large language model-based neural network called ChatGPT4, which could transform the global technological landscape by mining global user data from social media and web surfing activities.

Simultaneously, concerns around the misuse of such powerful tools are becoming evident. Allegations are being raised against related firms for exploiting their data annotation workers in East Africa. Notably, even as Microsoft holds a considerable stake in OpenAI, warnings have been issued against the use of OpenAI products in the former’s search algorithms.

This ‘gold rush’ has also reflected previous patterns seen in the corporate worlds, such as Google’s evolution from a unique search algorithm company with a ‘no-ads’ principle to a revenue-focused corporation selling user data to advertisers. Similarly, OpenAI’s original objective of being a not-for-profit research-oriented company using AI for the common good has morphed, with a significant portion of the company now driven by profits.