When I was a kid, I read an article by Isaac Asimov complaining that the pace of scientific publication had become so great that he couldn’t possibly keep up. When I was an adult, I realized that the end of the article – in which he claimed that if you heard panting behind his office door it was because he was out of breath from trying to read the scientific literature – was a veiled reference to masturbation. Yep, Isaac is the Grand Dirty Old Man of science fiction, and, man, we love you, but, damn, sometimes, you needed a filter.
Well, the future is now, and the story is repeating itself – sans Isaac’s ending; my regular fiction is a touch blue so there’s no need for my blog to get prurient. I’m a robotics researcher turned consultant, focusing on, among a kazillion other things, language model planning – robots using tools like ChatGPT to write their own programs. As part of this, I’m doing research – market research on AI and robotics, general research on the politics of AI, and technical research on language models in robotics.
A good buddy from grad school is now a professor, and he and I have restarted a project from the 90’s on using stories to solve problems (the Captain’s Advisory Tool, using Star Trek synopses as a case-base, no joke). And we were discussing this problem: he’s complaining that the pace of research has picked up to the point where he can no longer keep up with the literature. So it isn’t just me.
But the best story yet on how fast things are changing? Earlier this month, I was going through some articles on large language models my research – and a new announcement came out while I was still reading the articles I had just collected that morning.
Singularity, here we come.