- “What the new OpenAI work has shown is that: yes, you absolutely can build something that really seems to ‘understand’ a lot about the world, just by having it read,” says Jeremy Howard, a researcher who was not involved with OpenAI’s work but has developed similar language modeling programs.
“[GPT-2] has no other external input, and no prior understanding of what language is, or how it works,” Howard tells The Verge. “Yet it can complete extremely complex series of words, including summarizing an article, translating languages, and much more.”
But as is usually the case with technological developments, these advances could also lead to potential harms. In a world where information warfare is increasingly prevalent and where nations deploy bots on social media in attempts to sway elections and sow discord, the idea of AI programs that spout unceasing but cogent nonsense is unsettling.
For that reason, OpenAI is treading cautiously with the unveiling of GPT-2. Unlike most significant research milestones in AI, the lab won’t be sharing the dataset it used for training the algorithm or all of the code it runs on (though it has given temporary access to the algorithm to a number of media publications, including The Verge).