The Memo - 7/Mar/2023
Romania's AI government advisor, Palmyra 20B, newer DALL-E 2, ChatGPT + Sheets update, and much more!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 7/Mar/2023
Welcome back to The Memo.
A quick ‘thank you’ for being a full subscriber here. You are the reason I get to be an independent researcher, unsullied by any overarching company or AI lab. You’ll find a few ‘secrets’ in this edition, too!
It took just a couple of days into the month for our winner of The Who Moved My Cheese? AI Awards! to be decided. And the winner for March 2023 is mega-author Neal Stephenson, who says the output of ChatGPT is ‘simply not interesting’.
…a person would be reading only the output of an algorithm, “and if that’s interesting to you, then fine.”
“Personally, I know a lot of writers who are putting a lot of effort into creating their own original works, and I’d rather support them and hear what they have to say than just look at the output of an algorithm.”
(Alan’s note: I love that these guys are going on permanent written record with these preposterous soundbites! Give it a year or two so we can look back. And check out my list of books co-authored with GPT-3 starting from nearly three years ago.)
The Policy section is back for this edition, with an explosive and frantic 64-page report from the UK government.
In the Toys to play with section, we look at the new Palmyra model, the latest Colin episode, the update to my Google Sheets + ChatGPT functionality, Poe for web (free ChatGPT + Anthropic Claude), and much more…
The BIG Stuff
Romania’s new AI LLM government advisor (1/Mar/2023)
I still get excited about ‘integrated AI,’ especially as more governments step up to the plate to bring it into society. It’s really interesting to see artificial intelligence being embraced in unexpected places…
Ion (pronounced ‘ee-on’) is Romanian for ‘John’.
Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă surprised his Cabinet on Wednesday by introducing them to a new member — run completely on artificial intelligence.
Ciucă introduced the new "honorary adviser" called Ion to the rest of his ministers in a demonstration, with a face and words appearing on a digital screen, responding to the prime minister's prompts along with a computerized voice.
Ion was developed by Romanian researchers and will use artificial intelligence to "quickly and automatically capture the opinions and desires" submitted by Romanian citizens, Ciucă said.
"We are talking about the first government adviser to use artificial intelligence," both nationally and internationally, he said. (— via Politico)
Ion takes a physical form as a long, mirror-like structure with a moving graphic at the top suggesting it is listening at all times.
“I have the conviction that the use of AI should not be an option but an obligation to make better-informed decisions,” Ciuca said. (—via Vice)
At first glance, this seems like a gimmick. But this is a real large language model (LLM), with a very real application. The Romanian source below confirms that Ion ‘uses Large Language Models, which manage to take these opinions of Romanians and synthesize them for the Government.’
‘The project is thought out in phases… Ion is in the learning phase, so it is very important for Romanians to convey their thoughts to him, what problems they have, later, based on this data, Ion will process them, synthesize them and be able to produce reports that will inform decisions and policies of the Government’
As a digression on these smaller countries leading innovation in the AI race, I wonder if nominative determinism (or ‘name-driven outcome’) is at play here. Check out bleeding-edge AI from countries like Romania and Malta, as they continue doing big things in the AI world. Romania has the letters ‘A’ and ‘I’ in order (separated by just one letter), while the lowercase ‘L’ in ‘Malta’ makes it look like ‘AI’. Shoutout to my Perth colleague and General Manager Dom Bull, and we’ve all heard of the runner Usain Bolt. You can read more about this effect (‘names such as Dennis or Denise would be overrepresented among dentists, and people with names such as Lawrence or Laura would be overrepresented among lawyers’) in this 2002 SUNY paper. (Welcome to The Memo; I wonder if you’d find that kind of deviation in any other AI report!)
I continue to provide AI consulting via expert calls as well as longer-term advisory to major governments around the world, most under NDA with ‘no identify’ clauses.
For our paid subscribers, here’s a video asset I developed for a very progressive government (not under NDA, though still confidential) with Leta AI able to answer local questions, translate between languages, and even ‘see’.