Scientists Have a Dirty Secret: Nobody Knows How AI Actually Works

Mystery Machine The AI industry exploded in late 2022, following the wild success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT release in November of that year. Generative AI tools — from chatbots to remarkably lifelike music and voice-generators to image and video creators, and more — continue to dazzle the public, while AI and machine learning advancements continue to find applications in fields like healthcare and drug discovery. Just one problem: not even the folks creating all this AI fully understand how it really works. “Obviously, we’re not completely ignorant,” University of California, San Diego computer scientist Mikhail Belkin told MIT Technology Review. “But our theoretical analysis is so far off what these models can do.” Indeed, as MIT Tech explains, many AI models are notoriously black boxes, which in short means that while an algorithm might produce a useful output, it’s unclear to researchers how it actually got there. This has been the case for years, with AI systems often defying statistics-based theoretical models. Regardless, the AI industry is careening ahead, fueled by billions of investment dollars and a hefty share of near-fanatical belief. (And, of course, the C-Suite vision of eliminating vast swaths of the workforce.) In other words, AI is already everywhere. But as it’s increasingly integrated into human life, the scientists building the tech are still trying to fully understand how it learns and functions. Spaghetti, Meet Wall Some experts chalk the lack of understanding up to the burgeoning nature of the field, arguing that AI’s nascency means that sometimes researchers will…Scientists Have a Dirty Secret: Nobody Knows How AI Actually Works

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