Rapid and pivotal advances in technology have a way of unsettling people, because they can reverberate mercilessly, sometimes, through business, employment, and cultural spheres. And so it is with the current shock and awe over large language models, such as GPT-4 from OpenAI.
It’s a textbook example of the mixture of amazement and, especially, anxiety that often accompanies a tech triumph. And we’ve been here many times, says Rodney Brooks. Best known as a roboticsresearcher, academic, and entrepreneur, Brooks is also an authority on AI: he directed the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT until 2007, and held faculty positions at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford before that. Brooks, who is now working on his third robotics startup, Robust.AI, has written hundreds of articles and half a dozen books and was featured in the motion picture Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. He is a rare technical leader who has had a stellar career in business and in academia and has still found time to engage with the popular culture through books, popular articles, TED Talks, and other venues.