Awhile back I watched a ten hour series about the life of Einstein. If the series was accurate, Einstein was apparently seriously interested in receiving validation from his peers, of being acknowledged, and applauded.
So much of what we do has little to do with what we are doing.
Have you ever wondered about those who are so intently interested in their process of discovery that they just don't care about us? In the history of mankind, what has been discovered and then lost by those who couldn't be bothered to share their discovery with us?
What about those who don't care about changing the world, because they don't care about us? They don't hate us, as they don't care about us enough for that. They just want to know, for themselves, and for them, that's enough. For every big discovery that made the history books there may be ten who quietly arrived in some human mind, and then quietly departed, never to be know by us.
Great piece. The big question I have is if they could’ve innovated as successfully like they had under any other conditions.
Alberto - I appreciate your ability to write this from a relatively objective perspective. At least in so far as we humans are capable. Capturing this spirit is important.
The scientist in me doesn’t want to believe this, but the human in me knows that divine inspiration exists and it manifests from a deep, unshakable faith in something you can’t see yet, but you know is “there”, somewhere.
It is this powerful process that humanity seems to need to discover the previously unknowable or yet to be manifest reality. It’s why all of the astounding breakthroughs in human history contain similar stories to the one you’ve written here.
They start with an unwavering, fanatical belief that something is possible, but we just don’t know how to do it yet. This is what will drive us to the stars eventually and beyond. Just beautiful.
Alberto, you did a great job with this piece.
"It’s also a curse because they really live in a bubble."
This says it all. It's utterly intoxicating to have some kind of "secret knowledge" that almost nobody else has, and it causes you to behave in all sorts of odd ways. Once you have that feeling, you chase it for the rest of your life, like an opium addict chasing the proverbial dragon. You may or may not catch the legit thing again, but you'll fool yourself into thinking you have superpowers and find this "secret knowledge" everywhere.
This is how conspiracy theorists are born, and also how we get centibillionaires who won't be held accountable.
I agree with Anne Harris, beautifully said. I read this also as 'your life'. Each of us are longing to discover 'this' about our very existence. Every day becoming who we are. Being brave enough to face every day, no matter the situation, discovering more about yourself, bravely living. Everyone struggles. The joy in the realisations. The pain that precedes those. Finding the balance, then flow. Life unfolds.
So beautifully written. Thank you.
It’s 2023. You’ve spent four years (or five or six, you can’t remember), working on something—one big goal. You always knew what you wanted (the happy end of history, or so you liked to think). And you knew why you wanted it. You were relentlessly and tirelessly trying to figure out the how.
I agree it's ominous. To your point about Einstein, well yeah there doesn't seem to be the same type of sense of ethics and morality in the tech world as there seemed to be in the world of physics some 80 years ago.
However, they STILL ended up pressing on to invent the atomic bomb and ultimately use it. For seemingly the same reasons we're pressing on with AI, "Our enemies won't stop because we do."
It's a dilemma for sure, but the time to be asking ourselves these questions has long passed. Our only option now is to hope that we can use the technology to make peace not war.
And to think that what OpenAI started is only in its infancy. This “bigger thing” has a gravitas all its own. Soon we will be seeing the juxtaposition of new approaches and new technologies making the new whole much larger than the sum of its parts. Perhaps 2017 transformers are a bit like the invention of the wheel. It’ll be akin to asking what technologies can we apply wheels to? Without any way to predict, it will be a bit like the Vulcan IDIC concept: Infinite Diversity through Infinite Combinations. People really have no idea. I for one, am looking forward to having a highly competent Chief of Staff who actually has taken a fiduciary responsibility for me. To provide everyone with one of those is way more important than having flying cars. And the implications are staggering. We could all use a Leo McGarry on our side.
I really wish we could access some of the wilder, less disciplined LLMs that display genuinely weird and idiosyncratic behaviour.