#002 - Rise of the (A.I.) machines
A newsletter on emerging tech & solopreneurship
Read Time ~6 mins
Happy New Year 🎉
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my first newsletter. Especially the six of you who had the courage to reply or comment. It was really great to hear from you!
Unfortunately, a few hours after scheduling last week’s edition, I was swiftly knocked down by the Covid fairy (for the first time), and I spent my next four days on the couch. Not the way I was hoping to kick off 2023, but sometimes you have to roll with the punches.
Thankfully, I’m feeling much better now, just in time for this week’s newsletter!
ChatGPT dominates the headlines
Everywhere I turn these days, people are discussing OpenAI’s new ChatGPT chatbot. Since we’ve got a broad audience subscribed to this newsletter, I will do my best to break this down into a 5-part “choose your own adventure”-style overview. This way, you can skip ahead to where you think you’re at, and we can all learn together…
Level 1 - What is OpenAI and ChatGPT?
OpenAI is a research organization (approaching a $30B valuation) dedicated to advancing “friendly” artificial intelligence. One of their most notable projects is GPT (“Generative Pre-training Transformer”), a language generation model that can produce human-like text based on a given prompt. Another exciting project is ChatGPT, designed explicitly for conversational interactions with the model. It has been trained on a huge dataset, allowing it to generate appropriate and coherent responses within the context of a conversation. Both GPT and ChatGPT are highly regarded as state-of-the-art language models.
Level 2 - Who is using ChatGPT & GPT-3?
If you haven’t already, you will soon begin to notice several products popping up that promise “Powered by ChatGPT.” This isn’t technically true because ChatGPT doesn’t have a public API available, but the previous version of the language model behind it, GPT-3 (more specifically, “text-davinci-003”), does. In reality, ChatGPT is actually using a newer version, GPT-3.5, which consists of data up until late 2021.
If you’re not a developer, there are nearly unlimited ways to integrate ChatGPT into your daily life. Treat ChatGPT like a research assistant who can provide instantaneous responses. The major limitation here is the fact that the information is limited to pre-2022 data, but trust me; there are still plenty of use cases I’ve used it for recently (technical questions, product management planning, book summarization, email writing, blog post outlines)
Level 3 - When will GPT-4 be released?
The OpenAI team has not announced a release date for GPT-4 or provided any information about its current development status. Even before ChatGPT (with GPT-3.5) was released on November 30th, it was widely believed that GPT-4 was well under development and expected to arrive at some point in 2023. Initial rumors suggest as early as Dec-Feb (so right now).
Similar to what we’re starting to see with A.I. generative art models that accept an image input along with a prompt, many people believe that GPT-4 will allow you to input audio, image, and possibly even video files, along with a prompt, and receive contextual information about that particular file. This would be an incredible advancement and make the A.I. model much more like a human research assistant rather than an intelligent Google replacement.
Level 4 - What other A.I. models should I learn about?
While OpenAI continues to receive most of the media coverage, there is no shortage of exciting advancements happening in other areas of A.I. as well. With OpenAI taking the “closed-source” approach to their products (meaning they don’t publicly share how they build them), Stability A.I. recently raised $101M to take the opposite approach and build open-source products for the masses. Their Stable Diffusion A.I. image generation model was released in August 2022 as an alternative to OpenAI’s DALL-E generative art model. This is what I was experimenting with on my Instagram a couple of months ago when I custom-trained an A.I. model on my own images (and my dog 😂).
Another tool that is exploding in popularity among A.I.-curious developers is HuggingFace.co. They’ve built a marketplace/gallery of A.I. models, datasets, and code spaces that allow you to share or customize other users’ code directly through your browser. This is a great way to start learning how others are using A.I. models in new and exciting ways.
Level 5 - How can I implement this tech in my products?
In my opinion, now is the best time to begin using these technologies in your software products because you’ll be ahead of the curve as the technologies continue to advance. In late November, I created a “Podcast Idea Generator” and “Podcast Namer” to experiment with the OpenAI API. Building similar micro-apps for your particular industry as a lead magnet would be great marketing and lead generation approach. I’m actually working on creating an eLearning course to demonstrate this, which you can get early access to by clicking this button ⤵
As mentioned above, HuggingFace is also a great resource for accessing a number of really great A.I. models that can be integrated into a software product you build. Some of the Spaces are set up to automatically offer API endpoints for you to call, and others will link out to a hosted commercial service that you can pay to access. In most cases, though, the files and datasets are publicly available if you’re willing to experiment and learn how to run them on your own.
If you’ve interacted with ChatGPT or GPT-3, you’ll likely agree there’s very little chance that this technology is going away any time soon. When this happens, I like to get a head start on the rest of the competition and try to understand how new technology is going to disrupt existing industries.
Gamification in the real world
I mentioned last week that one topic I was interested in focusing on in 2023 was studying Gamification concepts. End-of-the-year emails from your favorite products tend to be fantastic examples of this. The now-famous Spotify Wrapped yearly review has been a very influential product feature in this category.
Below are some of the statistics shared with me from a software development plugin that I use called “WakaTime”. I joked on Twitter that seeing these numbers makes me want to work harder and write more code.
Product builders, what gamification could you implement to increase usage?
Everyone else, how could you use gamification to motivate yourself to accomplish your personal goals in 2023?
Favorite Tweet of the week
I recently realized that as I’ve gotten older and satisfied with my career growth, I stopped creating ambitious 5-year plans for myself. This Tweet has some great advice on ways to plan out longer-term life goals…
As my fiancé and I dive deeper into planning our upcoming June 2023 wedding, I found myself researching what “string quartets” sounded like. In typical YouTube fashion, one thing led to the next, and I quickly found myself listening to every song Nicholas Yee (YouTube & Spotify) has ever released.
If you have eardrums, I would highly suggest checking him out…
Question of the Week
Each week I want to ask a question to make this a more interactive experience. If you have a minute, I would love it if you could please reply or leave a comment below with your answer!
Q: Where’s the best place I can follow you back?
thanks for the sufficiently dumbed-down explanation of the technology for people like me, rife with links and extra stuff to investifate. Very thorough!
Great content, thanks. Love the AI discussion, I couldn't help but think this is what our IBM Watson AI should have been...
Best place to follow me would be Twitter....but you already are!