Computer”: the vision of the woman who leads ChatGPT
Engineer Mira Murati in charge of the teams that developed the fashionable “chatbot” and the Dall-e model, assures that all people must participate in the discussion of the present and future of artificial intelligence: from artists, humanists, and scientists social organizations to regulators and governments, among others.
To write this article, I had a lot of questions, so I turned to ChatGPT. I started by asking her what ChatGPT is and she told me: “It’s a great language model developed by OpenAI. It is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) program designed to generate human-like text based on a given message or input.” We speak that in English.
I asked him the same thing, and the last part of the answer seemed better this time, as it gives a clearer or more specific idea of the uses it can have: “ChatGPT has been used in a wide variety of applications, from virtual assistants and ‘chatbots’ to text analysis and creative text generation”.
Although the answer falls short anyway, the “wide variety” is serious. The problem that many see around ChatGPT is the excessive or inappropriate use that can be given to a tool like this, which has managed to pass difficult university admission exams and consulted to give concepts in court rulings, among many other cases.
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The woman who leads the team that created ChatGPT. That is Mira Murati an American engineer of Indian descent born in 1988. Thirty years later she came to OpenAI. She has previously gone through Goldman Sachs, Zodiac Aerospace, and Tesla, where she was a Product Manager for the Model X.
Failing to get an interview with Murati, I opted to ask ChatGPT for her. She replied that she doesn’t know all the people in the world to give her more context. I told her that she was referring to OpenAI’s CTO. She then replied that as far as she knew Greg Brockman held that position.
But no: Brockman is a co-founder of the company (which had Elon Musk and Sam Altman, current CEO, among its creators) and its president since 2015. After asking him about the same thing in different ways, he finally explained to me that with his knowledge, cut to September 2021, the CTO was Brockman. Perhaps the confusion arose from there since Murati came to office in 2022.
As Kevin Roose wrote in “The New York Times”, ChatGPT “does not cite its sources and has problems incorporating updated information or events”, something that is expected of Bing chat, the Microsoft search engine, a company that has long several years supports OpenAI. With that new development, they could finally dethrone Google (which also announced its own AI).
In any case, in the exercise with the “bot,” several of the points that Murati points out were evident. In an interview with “Time” magazine this month, he explained that, as “a large neural network that has been trained to predict the next word,” the challenges with ChatGPT are similar to those with similar models.
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For this reason, in his response, the system warned me to use it “with caution and avoid relying on it for critical decision-making or applications where accuracy and empathy are crucial.” In other words, it is not designed to replace human judgment since, in addition, the data used for its training may have biases.
When John Simons, who interviewed on “Time,” asked Murati to name a song that identifies or inspires her, he chose Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.” It is the second song on the album “OK Computer” (1997), a title that alludes to the science fiction novel “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (1979), by Douglas Adams.
The expression is from the moment when the ship recognizes that it cannot defend itself against a missile attack. “OK, computer: I want full manual control,” the galactic president, in command replies. As Andy Greene reviewed in “Rolling Stone” magazine, that phrase marks the point in the narrative where “humans are saved by retaking control of the machines.”
“It’s not the most uplifting, but it’s beautiful and uplifting,” Murati said of the song, which its author, Thom Yorke, wrote in an attempt to “reconnect” with other human beings using metaphors or references to the technological world. And that is precisely what seems key to not losing control of the machines: the dialogue between human beings.
Murati suggests that it is necessary to be aware that technology is not just a matter for engineers. He acknowledges that developers are “a small group of people” who need more feedback and perspectives given all the social, ethical, and philosophical implications that developments like the team he leads generate.
“It’s important that we bring [to the discussion] different voices, such as philosophers, social scientists, artists, and people from the humanities,” he said in the interview with “Time.” Among those, he adds, must also be regulators and governments.
As if that were not enough, when asked by Simons about a film that allows her to get to know her or that inspires her, she mentioned “2001: A Space Odyssey”, by Stanley Kubrick. “Keep stirring my imagination”, a purpose that seems to have materialized in Dall-e, the other great OpenAI development, before ChatGPT.
The system, which got its name from the mixture of the last name of the artist Salvador Dalí and the robot from the movie “Wall-e”, not only creates images from a description but, for example, can “imagine” the environment that an existing painting or drawing would have. “It is an extension of the imagination without the limits of a canvas or a paper”, as the CTO said in “The Daily Show”.
In another exercise of imagination, Murati has referred to the scope of development like ChatGPT. “It has immense potential to help us with a personalized education,” she told “Time.” She means that, since we all come from different backgrounds, it doesn’t make much sense for us to learn in the same way.
“With tools like ChatGPT, you can chat endlessly to understand a concept in a way that suits your level of understanding,” he said. Faced with the fact that the tool has been banned in educational centers (basically because it can do all the work), he insisted that the problem is not the technology, but what is done with it.
This engineer, by the way, has collaborated with spaces such as Geek Girl X, which seek to encourage the participation of women and girls in the world of technology, an industry that, in her words, can “shape society” and vice versa, but in which half of that society is underrepresented.
On AI, for many people, as Roose noted in her column, “there are legitimate questions about how quickly all this technology is being developed and deployed.” But they also agree that OpenAI, which has around 400 employees, has started “the AI arms race”, with young people like Murati at the forefront.
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