This is a far cry from the reputation of the field in the 1990s, when Wooldridge was completing his Ph. AI is still seen as a strange, sideline pursuit; The broader tech sector, he said, viewed it in a similar way to how ancient medicine viewed homeopathy.
Today’s boom in AI research has been fueled by neural networks, which have seen a big breakthrough in the 1980s and works by simulating models of the human brain. Back then, the technology was stymied because the computers of that time weren’t powerful enough to run the software. Today we have a lot of data and extremely powerful computers that make this technique possible.
New breakthroughs, such as the ChatGPT chatbot and the stable Diffuse text-to-image model, seem to emerge every few months. Stone said technologies like ChatGPT are still not fully explored, and both industry and academia are still studying how they can be useful.
Instead of a full AI winter, we could see a decline in funding for long-term AI research and more pressure to make money using technology, says Wooldridge. Researchers in the company’s labs will be under pressure to prove that their research can be integrated into products and therefore monetized, he added.
That already happened. In light of the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google announced a threat situations “code red” for its core product, Search, and is looking to actively improve Search with its own AI research.
Stone sees parallels with what happened at Bell Labs. If Big Tech’s AI labs, which dominate the field, turn their backs on long-term deep research and focus too much on short-term product development, exasperated AI researchers could leave. Abandon these large academies and laboratories could lose their ability to innovate. he says.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of smart people looking for work at the moment. Venture capitalists are looking for new startups to invest in as cryptocurrency booms, and innovative AI has shown how the technology can be turned into products.
This moment offers the field of AI a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the potential of new technology. Despite all the gloom surrounding layoffs, it’s an exciting prospect.