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The “foundation models” that can do these things represent a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, or ai. They, too, promise a revolution, but this one will affect the high-status brainwork that the Industrial Revolution never touched. There are no guarantees about what lies ahead—after all, ai has stumbled in the past. But it is time to look at the promise and perils of the next big thing in machine intelligence.

Foundation models are the latest twist on “deep learning” (dl), a technique that rose to prominence ten years ago and now dominates the field of ai. Loosely based on the networked structure of neurons in the human brain, dl systems are “trained” using millions or billions of examples of texts, images or sound clips. In recent years the ballooning cost, in time and money, of training ever-larger dl systems had prompted worries that the technique was reaching its limits. Some fretted about an “ai winter”. But foundation models show that building ever-larger and more complex dl does indeed continue to unlock ever more impressive new capabilities. Nobody knows where the limit lies.

+INFO: The Economist

\Imagen from The Economist

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