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Opinion
Tyler Cowen

Artificial Intelligence Is the Hope 2020 Needs

With attention focused on a pandemic and an election, AI has taken a major leap forward.

Your AI bartender will serve you now.

Your AI bartender will serve you now.

Photographer: Leon Neal/Getty Images Europe

This year is likely to be remembered for the Covid-19 pandemic and for a significant presidential election, but there is a new contender for the most spectacularly newsworthy happening of 2020: the unveiling of GPT-3. As a very rough description, think of GPT-3 as giving computers a facility with words that they have had with numbers for a long time, and with images since about 2012.

The core of GPT-3, which is a creation of OpenAI, an artificial intelligence company based in San Francisco, is a general language model designed to perform autofill. It is trained on uncategorized internet writings, and basically guesses what text ought to come next from any starting point. That may sound unglamorous, but a language model built for guessing with 175 billion parameters — 10 times more than previous competitors — is surprisingly powerful.