Company Builds AI Text Generator Too Dangerous for Public Release

Robot concept or robot hand chatbot pressing computer keyboard enter

As the age of automation draws increasingly nearer, the gatekeepers of this exciting, yet frightening, technology are being forced to make ethical decisions on whether or not their A.I. will better humanity or cause its downfall. And just recently the creators of the machine learning research group OpenAI, backed by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and Reid Hoffman, decided one of their creations was too dangerous to release in full as they realized their AI was too good at generating “deepfakes for text.”

The nonprofit research firm’s GPT2 text generator was fed over 10 million news articles from Reddit – about 40 GBs worth of text – to generate an intuitive program that completes any input sentence into a full-length news article — a fake news article.

A demonstration of the technology can be seen in the below video posted by the Guardian, which shows what happened when the first sentence of an article was input to the bot. Within seconds, the tool generates a fabricated paragraph that reads in a journalistic tone, and sounds like it could actually be reporting legitimate news.

Entering the opening lines of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and George Orwell’s 1984, had the same effect – without hesitation, the bot filled in the next paragraphs with sentences that read fluently and made perfect sense, albeit they weren’t the sentences from the book.

In a world rife with fake news, ambiguity, and attempts to mislead through media, Musk and his colleagues must have immediately realized the implications GPT2 had when it came to exacerbating these issues.

Just imagine if someone could take an entire article and replace it with deepfakes generated by an AI algorithm such as this?

It would be even worse if only small snippets of an article were replaced by erroneous outputs from the bot, creating slight variations, imperceptible to those who wouldn’t know to verify what they were reading, while the rest of the document might look identical to the real thing.

But then there’s also the really fun applications for this technology that Musk and company certainly played around with for a while. Like the fake news article they had the bot create that outlined the unprecedented discovery of a unicorn the bot named Ovid’s Unicorn:


But while OpenAI had the prescience to withhold their research from the public, it seems this level of technology could easily be created by another research group with fewer ethical reservations.

The journalists at the Guardian also decided to feed the first two paragraphs of their article on GPT2 to itself, out of curiosity of what it might say. Though the results were entirely fake, it wasn’t necessarily the eerie sentience one might have expected from an intelligent bot.  Though it said it hoped its creators would release a safe and useful version of it to the public.

Nice try GPT2, but we’re not falling for your devious tricks.

In addition to deciding their text-generating tool was too dangerous to be publicly released, Musk recently decided to leave OpenAI due to what he said was some of the decision making occurring there. It’s unclear whether this had anything to do with the conversations around GPT2.

But in all of the fear surrounding the repercussions this technology could have for news and media, there is certainly one group looking forward to the potential these bots portend: students looking for an easy way out of writing that English essay. Their poor teachers…


For more on the rise of artificial intelligence check out this episode of Deep Space :

A.I. and the Future of Humanity

A New Phase of Matter Appears to Defy Laws of Thermodynamics

Scientists have created a new phase of matter known as time crystals, a quantum phenomenon appearing to defy the laws of thermodynamics. Could this discovery upend our understanding of classical physics?

A team of researchers developing Google’s Sycamore quantum computer announced the successful creation of a time crystal that lasted for 100 seconds. This novel phase of matter appears to defy the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy, or chaos and disorder, always increases in an isolated system. In other words, energy must be put into a system in order to maintain structure or motion. But time crystals have been observed to maintain a constant state of flux, without losing any energy.

Dr. Simeon Hein, director of the Institute for Resonance, explains the science behind this strange phenomenon.

“Crystals are in everything we do—they’re in watches—they’re in so many things because they’re regular, they create evenness, they create this consistency. And just like their pattern is very consistent, the energy that crystals transmit turns into a very regular pattern which is why you can use a quartz crystal in a watch,’ Dr. Hein said.

“You can put a noisy electrical signal in but it will come out as a very consistent beat, and that created the idea for some people, in this case, Frank Wilczek from M.I.T. in 2012, to propose the idea that you not only had crystals in space, you could have crystals in time. You could create an oscillating circuit, using specific quantum principles, you could create a very constant quantum beat.”

Time crystals have been described as the first “out-of-equilibrium” phase of matter, meaning they maintain order while in an excited state. But how do time crystals accomplish this, without expending energy?

“At a quantum level, they’re getting energy from something called the Zero-point energy field. The Zero-point energy field is the lowest ground state of quantum matter, but the lowest state doesn’t mean absolute zero like nothing’s happening. The quantum ground state is actually the base state of the universe, where even though there’s nothing happening, the field itself generates energy, causing random fluctuations and particles to pop out of nowhere, and all sorts of really interesting effects that normally, I should say most of the time, we don’t see in our regular, physical reality,” Dr. Hein said.

“So these coherently entangled particles would be deriving their energy from the quantum vacuum field. But if they’re getting their energy from the quantum vacuum, instead of our classical world, you can’t see any reason why they would eventually have to wind down like our regular clocks would, and energy would dissipate.”

With this new discovery of time crystals appearing to defy the second law of thermodynamics, how has mainstream science reacted, or tried to reconcile this paradox?

“A lot of these quantum phenomena seem to defy classical physics, the whole idea of quantum entanglement suggests faster than light interaction or communication, Einstein called it ‘spooky action at a distance,’ and experiments later confirmed that you could take pairs of particles and separate them, and you could do something to one of them, and the other particle would immediately react at farther and farther distances away,” Dr. Hein said.

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