Top physicist says chatbots are just ‘glorified tape recorders’

The recent frenzy around ChatGPT and similar A.I. generative technologies is deemed by leading physicist Michio Kaku as media sensationalism that could overshadow the impending breakthrough in quantum computing.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Kaku acknowledged chatbots’ efficiency in content generation but underscored their limitations in distinguishing truth from fiction and accurate data from misinformation. He dismissed them as “glorified tape recorders” rearranging existing internet content.

“It takes snippets of what’s on the web created by a human, splices them together and passes it off as ifitcreated these things,” he told Zakaria in an interview on Sunday.

“People are saying ‘Oh my god, it’s a human, it’s human-like!’. The chatbot simply rearranges whatever is on the internet already.”

Kaku’s criticism echoes similar recent comments from Meredith Whittaker, a former Google A.I. researcher that quit the company in protest.

“This isn’t intelligence. This is basically a sort of warped mirror of what’s on the internet for the last twenty years […] designed to spit out things that seem plausible,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press in May.

Harnessing the parallel processing power of the human brain

Instead, Kaku—a leading expert in the field of particle physics and string theory—wanted to draw attention to the coming revolution in quantum computing, which he argues in his latest book will change the course of history.

Quantum computers are the closest approximation of the human brain’s processing power.

“Mother nature is still ahead of us. Our brain is the most complex object in the known universe,” he said.

Highlighting quantum computing’s potential, Kaku emphasized its parallel processing akin to the human brain’s complex simultaneous reactions.

He explained that unlike conventional computers, quantum computers, which utilize qubits operating at extremely low temperatures, predict probabilities rather than deterministic outcomes.

They hold the potential to solve complex problems that even the most advanced supercomputers would struggle with.

“Think of a mouse in a maze. A digital calculator would calculate the trajectory of each mouse at every joint, at every place where there’s a decision to be made. That takes forever,” Kaku said. “A quantum computer instantly analyzes all possible trajectories simultaneously.”

Fortunately, A.I. leaders like Google and Microsoft aren’t putting all their eggs in the A.I. chatbot basket.

Both have invested heavily in building the most powerful “universal gate” machines in the hunt for quantum supremacy—the moment when their quantum computers surpass in ability the most advanced digital computers around.

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