At a session in the India Today Conclave 2023, Microsoft vice chairman and president Brad Smith talked about how generative AI like ChatGPT and Microsoft’s new Bing are poised to change the world.
• Microsoft President Brad Smith talked about the usefulness of a generative AI.
• He says ChatGPT is an extraordinary tool and would teachers in many ways.
• The executive asserted that the tool helps save an hour of teachers’ time that can be used for something else.
Generative AI like ChatGPT is all the rage nowadays and one company that is taking the lead is Microsoft. The tech giant in recent weeks has supercharged its Bing search engine by infusing it with generative AI called GPT. Currently, the smart assistant at Bing is powered by GPT-4. Now in a conversation at the India Today Conclave 2023 Microsoft vice chairman and president Brad Smith says that generative AI can transform different aspects of our lives, including education.
“Generative AI is on a par with a combustion engine or may even the steam engine. It is similar to the technologies that powered the Industrial revolution,” Smith said at the India Today Conclave 2023.
The Microsoft president touched upon a number of aspects related to generative AI in his conversation, including the safety aspects of the new technology. At the same time, he also said that the next variant of GPT will be even more powerful than the GPT 4 that was revealed just a day ago and that is already powering the new Bing and Microsoft products like Office 365 through a virtual assistant called Co-Pilot.
In his conversation, Smith particularly touched upon the usefulness of a generative AI for the education sector.
“It won’t have an impact on students,” he said. “(The AI) will impact teachers. This should be an extraordinarily helpful tool to help teachers grade what students submit. I mean, think… If it can be submitted digitally, it can be graded by ChatGPT and you free up an hour of teachers’ time that they can go spend doing something more productive. Now, that’s just one slice. And I think that in many ways, this technology will probably impact every slice of every classroom, at least for every classroom where the technology is available.”
In his wide-ranging conversation, Smith also talked about the safety aspect of the AI, particularly addressing the concerns raised by a New York Times report during which the Bing chatbot fell in love with the NYT journalist and then started a rather unhinged conversation. Smith termed that conversation a social experiment saying that it went unhinged because the journalist pushed it in a particular direction. “Journalists are often very enterprising as you know,” he said, adding that the conversation went in a certain direction because it went on for over two hours with hundreds of questions.
Smith said that with new technologies it is important to “fix things fast.”
After the New York Times report, Smith said, “we put in new guard rails where we said you can only ask five questions and then you have to start with a new line of conversation so that the model can’t get confused.”
“We also fine-tuned it so it gave answers more precise and more grounded,” he said. “In short, what it means is that you have to be committed to fixing things fast. And in this case, we were able to address the issue within 24 hours.”
Smith essentially says that Microsoft — and probably other AI companies — understand the technology is new. “We need to be mindful that this young (technology), we need to get it out of the lab so we can discover where it needs to be improved and we need to fix things fast,” he said.