In the reality we live in, people live their lives and then leave — for good, never to cross the line and return to the world again.
Or do they?
In a way, the natural way of things — grief, people passing on, humans not living forever — has been challenged by the big strides that technology has made in the last few years. More specifically, artificial intelligence capabilities have developed so quickly and extensively that they have made it possible for humans to hold meaningful conversations and even re-create human personas to a higher level of accuracy. In other words, even bring people back to life — figuratively. This possibility and specifically the technology behind it carries the potential to impact various parts of the business world.
Before diving into business implications, it’s important to understand the technology at the center of these capabilities. It is known as GPT-3 — software that is able to take on any language, any writing style and produce content as original as a human could create. GPT-3 — a successor of GPT-2 — was brought to the world by OpenAI, a Silicon Valley-based research entity co-founded by Elon Musk. But very soon, the tool was deemed “too dangerous” for the general public to access because of how convincing and powerful it was. Since 2019, the tool has been limited in its use strictly to beta users because such vast power in the wrong hands and used with malicious intent could lead to catastrophes.
How It Works
GPT is an algorithm that absorbs large quantities of content and information that, like with any other NLP and AI algorithm, improves with larger amounts of data. GPT is the most powerful technology out there that can execute functions that relate to any type of language structure — think summaries, content creation, questions and answers. Technically speaking, GPT is built on a predictive model, where the input text is transformed into the most relevant and applicable continuation there is (output).
Fast forward to 2020, and GPT has emerged in the most curious type of application — chatbots that feel so real they re-create natural human conversations with ease. And it all started when Jason Rohrer decided to leverage the power of GPT to give the public the ability to use and create their own chatbots online.
And so, Project December was born.
Joshua Barbeau, who lost his fiancée in 2012 at a very young age, was among those who saw an opportunity to bring back a beloved person through technology. And so, Jessica Courtney Pereira came to life, virtually. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are two key ingredients required for creating a custom bot: a quick example of what the bot could say (an “example utterance”) and an “intro paragraph” describing what role the algorithm will have to take in the conversation with the user.
To best fit these two criteria, Joshua used previous text messages by Jessica to feed the model and re-create her voice as accurately as possible. And this was the beginning of a conversation that lasted for hours — one that grew more and more real and accurate as it progressed. Eventually, it became his own chance at closure and getting the answers he needed to improve his mental health.
Project December is not the only software replicating human interactions and personas. Another example is Replika AI, or, as it describes itself, “a personal AI that would help you express and witness yourself by offering a helpful conversation.” Essentially, it’s a digital “mirror” that allows the users to see how they sound over text through conversations that increase in their accuracy of replicating the user’s tone and voice with every new message. While at this stage, it’s an entertaining activity allowing for introspection and self-awareness, the ultimate vision for Replika is “to create a digital representation of you that can act as you would in the world, dealing with all those inane but time-consuming activities like scheduling appointments and tracking down stuff you need.”
All these tools indicate the same thing: AI has crossed the threshold, and it’s time to prepare for a future where it will be a tool of such power that can be used for figurative miracles or disasters alike. There is a reason GPT-3 has been restricted in use and its predecessor was released with a caveat; what may generate honest conversations that help people grieve over a huge loss can also be used as a dangerous tool for spreading misinformation and propaganda.
This means a few things from the business perspective. For one, it has the ability to streamline the logistical processes involving documentation and paperwork, creating contracts, agreements and other types of high-importance documents in a matter of seconds. Translations from one language into another will also be an added bonus — especially for global businesses that operate in multilingual environments at all times.
GPT-3’s ability to sound so real and sophisticated is also what will revolutionize customer care and support. The era of malfunctioning, limited chatbots that cause more nuisance than help will be long gone when GPT-3 takes the reins. With their ability to adapt and understand customer input, these chatbots will find more efficient and tailored solutions to the requests that customers bring to brands. This will allow businesses to increase customer lifetime value and retention while keeping churn extremely low. Beyond customer care, businesses will be able to also develop powerful branding and marketing solutions that will keep the companies evergreen with continuously improving copy, taglines, blog posts and communication that will be receptive to the customers’ needs and adapting to their everchanging preferences.
Whatever the future holds, one thing is true: The power of technology will only continue to increase, and it’s in our hands to decide how to best apply it to have a positive, rather than calamitous, impact.
Originally published in Forbes