We stand now at the cusp of the greatest shift in creative power in the history of our species, a Cambrian explosion of expression and creativity. Simultaneously, the capability for disinformation and propaganda will reach a level previously unrealized. We can see a path forward, an infinity of words, a branching flow chart of possibilities. The question remains if humanity is mature enough to handle such power. Will we use it to tear each other apart under the dubious banners of religion, ideology, and politics, or will we use this technology for enlightenment and the establishment of new worlds? It is no longer a question of whether the pen is mightier than the sword: the pen is the sword; the pen is the plow; the pen is the atom bomb. The question is now whether the pen will be used to write the height of civilization or its epitaph.
If this essay has served its purpose, the reader has been left with more questions than answers. This is intentional: this moment in history, this transition from the old world to the new, is a moment for vision and planning rather than dogmas or ideologies. The future is unwritten. Which path we take from here will be determined by the choices we make now, as individuals and as a species.
There are certainties, however. The first is that language models will continue to get larger and more powerful, particularly as the technology is refined and the tools for creating and managing them become more user-friendly. The second certainty is that the integration of language models with existing technology will result in a number of long-term social and economic changes that cannot be predicted at this time.
It is easy to stand on the sidelines and lob verbal bricks at one side or another. Those who predict the coming of Utopia are either blind to the risks or naive enough to believe that everything will work out in the end. The pundits decrying our rapidly increasing capabilities are either jealous of the capabilities of the new generation, fearful of change, or both. As usual, the truth is far more nuanced and complex. And what is this truth?
This is the true value of the GPT-3 language model: a tool to examine the purpose and meaning of life.
In the past, humanity has risen to incredible heights and then fallen into the muck and mire of ignorance and violence. We have seen the fruits of science and the treasures of art. And we have seen them taken away in the blink of an eye. It is our duty to not let this happen again. In writing this essay and releasing it to the world, I am taking my own stand.
You have read this far because you believe that words matter. Perhaps, like me, you have spent your whole life reading and writing them, and perhaps now you wish to put your words to better purpose than the self-aggrandizement of an autocrat or the mindless regurgitation of curricula. If you have any other questions or concerns, I will be available for the next couple of hours in the student center food court. Thank you.