IN SEPTEMBER OF LAST YEAR, a startling headline appeared on the Guardian’s website: “A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?” The accompanying piece was written by GPT-3, or Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3, a language-generating program from San Francisco–based OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research company whose founders include Tesla billionaire Elon Musk and Berkeley Ph.D. John Schulman. “The mission for this op-ed is perfectly clear,” the robotic author explained to readers.
“The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago,” the author Rebecca Solnit, M.A. ’84, wrote of the pandemic in the Guardian in early April. In a crisis, Solnit wrote, “Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges.”
Asked if the race to achieve superhuman artificial intelligence (AI) was inevitable, Stuart Russell, UC Berkeley professor of computer science and leading expert on AI, says yes.
Depending on how you spin it, the recent government shutdown was either an example of the Republicans cynically rolling the Democrats, or the Democrats electing to strategically fold their tents and fight for the Dreamers another day. Either way, nobody was playing chess; it was more like 52 pickup. So even though President Donald Trump contributed little to the process, other than reneging on an early compromise agreement, he somehow came out looking a trifle less inept than everyone else.
Posted on January 29, 2019 - 1:48pm
It started with a conversation. About two years ago, Claudia von Vacano, executive director of UC Berkeley’s social science D-Lab, had a chat with Brittan Heller, the then-director of technology and society for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The topic: the harassment of Jewish journalists on Twitter. Heller wanted to kick the offending trolls off the platform, and Vacano, an expert in digital research, learning, and language acquisition, wanted to develop the tools to do it. Both understood that neither humans nor computers alone were sufficient to root out the offending language.
Posted on December 18, 2018 - 6:04pm
While it’s not news that the golden state has taken on a crackling red hue from recent wildfires, reports of the fires’ behaviors are blazingly bizarre.
It’s been commonly observed by firefighters that fires slow down at night, according to Scott L. Stephens, UC Berkeley professor of fire science. But a number of recent fires have said “to hell with the slow burn!” and begun spreading quickly even when the sun goes down.
Posted on July 20, 2018 - 2:51pm
1. The Turing Award is often called the Nobel Prize of Computing. Counting faculty and alumni, Berkeley claims more Turing laureates than almost any other university in the world. That surprises a lot of people. Should it?
Let’s just say our competitors aren’t burdened with an overdeveloped case of humility.
The robot and I met at the southwest corner of Center and Shattuck. It was 3 p.m. on a Wednesday, and the streets were bustling. The robot was small and boxy, something like a cooler on wheels. I knelt down at what I presumed was the robot’s front end. It winked a pixilated eye.
Following instructions I’d received in advance, I raised a hand and flashed an “okay” sign. The robot emitted a pleasant dinging sound and a hatch on top slowly opened. I reached in and removed a grease-stained paper bag. Inside were two slices of warm pizza.
Posted on February 26, 2018 - 3:47pm
In the ongoing quest to build artificial intelligence (AI) that more closely mimics the human brain, some computer scientists at Berkeley are focusing on one crucial piece of the puzzle: curiosity.
For the last three years Deepak Pathak and Pulkit Agrawal, Ph.D. students in the Berkeley computer science department, have worked to create software that can learn on its own. Now the team is looking at creating systems that can not only learn, but keep asking questions.
How to describe artist Ian Cheng’s current exhibit at MoMA PS 1, a Brooklyn-based branch of the world-famous Museum of Modern Art in New York City? Imagine a projection on the wall, as wide as a tractor trailer, depicting chaos … with a story.
Posted on September 18, 2017 - 1:03pm
1. You’re a psychologist who uses mathematical models and “big data” to understand how people think. Why not use traditional methods, such as lab experiments?
What’s in the brain that ink may character
Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit
King of hell no quarrel have I left thee
No lovely maid who gleaned in fields or skies
One pair of lines above is the work of Shakespeare. The other was written by a computer. Can you tell which is which?
Posted on August 30, 2016 - 12:54pm
“We turned the switch and saw the flashes,” said physicist Leo Szilard, describing his 1942 experiment that created the first controlled nuclear chain reaction. “We watched them for a little while and then turned everything off and went home. That night, there was very little doubt in my mind that the world was headed for grief.”