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3 weeks ago
The Hype Around DeepMind’s New AI Model Misses What’s Actually Cool About It

 
Originally published in MIT Technology Review, May 23, 2022.

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Earlier this month, DeepMind presented a new “generalist” AI model called Gato. The model can play Atari video games, caption images, chat, and stack blocks with a real robot arm, the Alphabet-owned AI lab announced. All in all, Gato can do 604 different tasks.

But while Gato is undeniably fascinating, in the week since its release some researchers have gotten a bit carried away.

One of DeepMind’s top researchers and a coauthor of the Gato paper, Nando de Freitas, couldn’t contain his excitement. “The game is over!” he tweeted, suggesting that there is now a clear path from Gato to artificial general intelligence, or AGI, a vague concept of human- or superhuman-level AI. The way to build AGI, he claimed, is mostly a question of scale: making models such as Gato bigger and better.

Unsurprisingly, de Freitas’s announcement triggered breathless press coverage that DeepMind is “on the verge” of human-level artificial intelligence. This is not the first time hype has outstripped reality. Other exciting new AI models, such as OpenAI’s text generator GPT-3 and image generator DALL-E, have generated similarly grand claims. For many in the field, this kind of feverish discourse overshadows other important research areas in AI.

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