Saturday, February 10, 2024
General vs. specific AI
Even intelligent people rarely say intelligent things. In our day-to-day interactions with others, the level of intelligence required is extremely low. This is because we rarely debate complicated stuff in private conversations. We are more likely to do small talk, or stick to practical communications like "pass me the milk, please!". This is why we can chat with a generative chatbot like ChatGPT and come away thinking that this AI is intelligent, because it sounds much like a human that we do small talk with. We overestimate our capability of getting information over another person's intelligence by talking with him, which is why companies hire people based on interviews, and only later find out that the person they hired isn't in fact suitable for the job at all.
In a widely published case last year, a lawyer used ChatGPT to write a legal brief. The document *looked* like a legal brief, but in fact the case citations in it were simply made up by the artificial intelligence. ChatGPT is a general AI, which is good at *sounding* real. But it isn't a specific AI, and has no specific knowledge. It doesn't have a legal case citation database, or understanding what case to cite as a reference to what legal opinion. It just put together words that looked like case citations. And while 2023 was a year in which AI was much talked about, and much progress was shown, this was all about general AI. Machines sounding human, without actual knowledge behind their words.
I was reminded on how much specific AI is lagging behind by watching some video content from people who had been given a beta version of Millennia. They were allowed to play the game beyond turn 60, where the public demo stops, although still restricted to the third age. But the further beyond the 60 turns you play, the more two things become obvious: Millennia is a very interesting game, with some very interesting deep game mechanics and complex options; and the specific AI playing your opponents in the game is dumb as a brick, and doesn't even manage relatively simple tasks very well.
That has been a problem with 4X and grand strategy games for decades. These are games which take a rather large number of hours for one game, which makes them hard to set up for multiplayer. So a lot of people play a lot of games against AI opponents, and these generally aren't very good, in spite of being specifically designed for just one game. They generally get by with a mixture of plain cheating and hiding stupidity from the player through fog of war. Age of Wonders 4 got lauded for much improving their AI in a patch last year, when all that patch did was increase the priority of AI units attacking already wounded units, thus leading to some basic focus fire. Actually losing units to an AI in a pitched battle was a noticeable step up.
I really wished game developers would put more manpower into the development of the specific AI that plays the opponents. The bar is relatively low. Specific AI to play chess at grandmaster level exists, but we neither need nor want that in our AI opponents. In most 4X and strategy games I played, I would already be extremely happy if an AI opponent that declared war on me would be able to coordinate an attack against me with several separate armies. An AI that could play as well as a totally mediocre human would be a quantum leap in specific strategy game AI.
The good news for half the working population is that general AI will not be able in the foreseeable future to take your job if your job requires specific knowledge. Even a lowly paralegal would have done a better job with that legal brief than ChatGPT. There is no way ChatGPT could repair your car or fix your sink. Only if your current job consists mostly of spouting general phrases, you are much more in danger of your job being replaced by a general AI bot. Journalists, customer service representatives, and politicians, beware!