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AI February 15, 2023

ChatGPT Thrills China, Firms Scramble For Own Version



ChatGPT Thrills China, Firms Scramble For Own Version

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is not yet available for Chinese customers, but it has generated a lot of interest among many, with tech firms in that country rushing to create their own version. Alibaba Group, Tencent, Baidu, NetEase, and are reported to be in the race for a ChatGPT-style tool.

Users in China cannot create an OpenAI account to access the artificial intelligence powered (AI) chatbots, although Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and foreign numbers help them dodge the restrictions.

Also read: China Uses Deepfake Anchors to Spread Political Propaganda

At the same time, the Microsoft-backed OpenAI model behind ChatGPT program, which can write essays and complex computer code, is relatively accessible in China and is increasingly being integrated into Chinese consumer tech applications, from social networks to online shopping.

Neither OpenAI nor ChatGPT itself is blocked by Chinese authorities, but OpenAI does not allow users in mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Russia, and parts of Africa to sign up. However, OpenAI has never publicly explained those restrictions. The company told Reuters it is working to make the service more widely available.

“We want to make our technology available everywhere, but circumstances in certain countries make it difficult or impossible to do so in a manner consistent with our mission.

“We are currently working to increase the number of locations where we can provide secure and beneficial access to our tools,” said the San Francisco-based company in an emailed statement.

Big tech firms join the buzz

Tech giants like Baidu and Alibaba are among the country’s top tech companies that have joined the buzz and have given updates on AI models they have been working on, prompting their shares to soar on the stock exchanges.

Last week, Baidu indicated it would complete internal testing of its ChatGPT-style service called “Wenxin Yiyan” in Chinese or “Ernie Bot” in English in March.

ERNIE, which stands for “Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration,” is a language model the search firm has been working on since 2019.

Since then, the ERNIE project has evolved, allowing users to write poems and papers or use text prompts to automatically generate images.

Following Baidu’s announcement, Alibaba also said its research institute Damo Academy was testing a ChatGPT-style tool without revealing more details.

Proximai founder Will Duan, whose company has been using a Baidu AI chatbot named Plato for natural language processing, said ChatGPT was at least a generation more powerful than China’s current NPL solutions, though it was weaker in some areas, such as understanding conversation context.

However, Baidu did not reply to Reuters’ request for comments.

Duan said potential long-term compliance risks mean Chinese firms would most likely replace ChatGPT with a local alternative, if they could match US- developed product’s functionality.

“So we actually hope that there can be alternative solutions in China which we can directly use…it may handle Chinese even better, and it can also better comply with regulations,” he said.

Access to OpenAI’s GPT-3, or generative Pre-trained Transformer, was first launched in 2020, an update of which is the backbone of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT impact direct, unlike the metaverse

Since its introduction in November last year, ChatGPT has gained huge traction. And its growing popularity is quickly raising awareness in China about how far the US AI has advanced – and how far behind Asian tech companies are.

Competition in AI-related technology also has geopolitical overtones, as it is one of the most hotly contested fields in the decades’ long US-China tech rivalry.

Senior equity analyst for Morningstar Asia Limited, Kai Wang said many Chinese AI companies view ChatGPT-like technology as a long-term driver for growth. Once they saw Baidu’s announcement, many companies also looked to capitalize on the opportunity, according to Wang.

Wang however warned of the uncertainties regarding how a chatbot would work in China, as these products are still in their early stages of development.

“There is a lot of uncertainty over the competitive landscape, regulations and ultimately, how well it works at this stage. We also have to be wary about how monetization of these products would work and how margin dilutive they are in the long run,” he said.

ChatGPT has been programmed to hold natural conversations using AI. According to experts, some of its benefits are increased productivity, increased accuracy, quick response times, increased engagement and scalability.

“There is great excitement around ChatGPT. Unlike the metaverse, which has a great difficulty finding real world applications, ChatGPT has suddenly helped achieve human-computer interaction,” said Ding Daoshi, an internet analyst and former director of Beijing based consultancy Sootoo.

“The changes it will bring are more immediate, direct and much quicker,” added Daoshi.

Local media reports say Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, China’s largest messaging app, in December ended numerous ChatGPT-related programs, although they continued to pop up.

Dozens of bots powered by ChatGPT technology have appeared on WeChat, which enthusiasts use to create programs or automated accounts that can interact with users. At least one account charges users a fee of 9.99 yuan ($1.47) for asking 20 questions. Tencent did not respond to a request by Reuters for a comment.

ChatGPT has helped promote informal adoption in China by supporting Chinese Interactions and being able to converse in Chinese.

Shenzhen-based Proximai last year introduced ChatGPT’s underlying technology to a social app, such as a 3D game with talking virtual characters. Beijing-based entertainment software company Kunlun Tech also plans to integrate ChatGPT into its web browser Opera.

Chinese firms currently use proxy tools or existing partnerships with Microsoft, which is investing billions in OpenAI, to access tools that allow them embed AI technologies into their products. One Hong Kong startup, SleekFlow, which is backed by Tiger Global, said it is integrating AI into its customer relationship messaging tools.

“We have customers all over the world,” said Sleekflow founder Henson Tsai. “Above all, ChatGPT provides excellent translations, sometimes better than other solutions on the market.”

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.


Google Will Crush Microsoft and OpenAI, Argues Founder



Google Will CRUSH Microsoft and OpenAI, Argues Founder

OpenAI and ChatGPT may be making the early ground in the battle for chatbot supremacy, but Google and Bard will ultimately win.

This is the argument made by Tibo Louis-Lucas, the project founder of social media promotion apps TweetHunter and Taplio. The founder, known on Twitter simply by the handle ‘Tibo’, believes Google has more than enough to overtake their early advantage.

Also Read: AI Tool Race Heats Up and Everyone Wants to Win

The race to chatbot supremacy

Most impartial observers would agree that the early ground in the race to chatbot supremacy has been made by OpenAI and Microsoft, but complacency is something they can ill afford in the longer term.

Google’s Bard AI is still not open to the general public but when it launches, OpenAI should have a real fight on its hands.

According to Tibo, “as soon as Google launches Bard for the general public, it will get mass adoption.”

He added, “Although Bing has seen a 10x jump after its ChatGPT integration, it just cannot beat Google in the ‘number of users’ race.”

Tibo believes that higher user numbers will be an important differentiator, because greater user numbers mean greater feedback. With more feedback in the mix, Google will be able to improve and iterate Bard faster, he argues.

A history of success

When Google announced its ChatGPT competitor Bard early last month, the bot flubbed its lines. Google’s AI shared inaccurate information in a promotional video, resulting in $100 billion devaluation in the corporation’s stock.

Despite this, Tibo still believes Google has the upper hand in the battle for AI ascendancy. 

“Google is behind all major breakthroughs in the AI world. From beating a top player in a game of Go to solving the protein folding problem, they’ve been killing it for years,” he says. 

Google has invested billions in AI technology through DeepMind and Google Brain.

DeepMind is the division of Google building machine-learning algorithms such as AlphaGo, which beat the European Go champion Fan Hui. DeepMind has since diversified to beat human opponents in Chess, Shogi, and Atari 2600 games without human data knowledge or known rules. The AI was later turned to medical research and protein folding.

Google Brain is a deep learning system turned to varied applications including encryption, image enhancement, and Google Translate.

The Google backbone

Perhaps the strongest argument favoring Google over OpenAI is that the chatbot technology is built on Google research.

GPT stands for generative pre-trained transformer. That transformer was designed and built by Google. As Tibo describes, it is similar to the relationship between cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Although there are many cryptocurrencies on the market (chatbots) they are all built on blockchain (Google’s transformer technology).

“OpenAI & ChatGPT might have hit a breakthrough, but they are built over the architectural model introduced to the world by Google,” says Tibo.

The TweetHunter founder further claims that Google will have an additional resource not available to OpenAI: transcripts of videos Google holds thanks to its ownership of YouTube. For all these reasons and more, Tibo believes Google will ultimately be victorious.

“Everyone thinks Microsoft [and] OpenAI will beat Google in the AI battle. I think Google will absolutely CRUSH them,” says an emphatic Tibo.

Who do you think will win the race to chatbot supremacy? Let MetNews know what you think on our social media channels.

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Script Writing and 5 Other Ways You Can Make Money Using GPT-4



Script Writing and 5 Other Ways You Can Make Money Using GPT-4

AI is revolutionizing the way businesses operate, allowing them to streamline and automate operations for maximum efficiency. It also opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs to monetize their skills by harnessing the power of tools such as GPT-4. Here are 6 ways you can make money using GPT-4 and other AI tools.

GPT-4 is the latest and most advanced generative AI from OpenAI. It is the direct successor to ChatGPT, the large language model AI chatbot that has taken the internet by storm due to its unique ability to complete a variety of complex tasks. This new bot, GPT-4, boasts of several features superior to its predecessor that can be monetized.

Content writing

One way of making money is through content writing services. Thanks to GPT-4, ordinary people can write like pros by simply asking the AI chatbot via text to create content. Users can create cool and catchy content for things like captions, tweets, and LinkedIn content. Beware however, the output of text can contain errors that may need correcting before forwarding or publishing the content.

In a Twitter thread, digital creator and software engineer Hasan Toor shared insights on how to leverage the power of GPT-4 to incubate businesses. He showed how he prompted the AI to write a Twitter hook on “How to start freelancing in 7 days”.

GPT-4 is also useful for copywriting. If you have always wanted to write e-books, and didn’t have time or the ability, this has changed. With the right wording in your prompt, GPT-4 can help write things like e-books, design courses, and guides.

After writing a book, one can always turn to AI again, for example, to design the cover. There is a ready market for such books on platforms like Gumroad. You can even ask GPT-4 to write an article about how to make it as a freelance.

Creating websites and landing pages

Creating landing pages using GPT-4 can turn in some dollars. This is because landing pages are key in lead generation and customer acquisition. GPT-4 is capable of “analyzing website traffic and user behavior to create high-converting landing pages to help grow client base.” This can be a lucrative business venture that can be scaled up and generate revenue.

Script Writing and 5 Other Ways You Can Make Money Using GPT-4

Toor said that GPT-4 “is insanely powerful [and] can transform a sketch into website code to create fully functional websites and apps.” Users can also leverage MidJourney, an AI image generator, to create landing page designs. A landing page is a “standalone web page that a person ‘lands’ on after clicking through from an email, ad, or other digital location.”

Translation services

As businesses expand their geographical reach, offering AI-powered language translation services may prove to be very valuable. GPT-4 can come in handy, helping users to translate manuals, training materials, and product descriptions for clients. This way, entrepreneurs can engage better with their customers.

Creating AI videos

Videos are an excellent tool for promoting products and services. Toor, the digital creator, said users can combine GPT-4 and other AI-powered products, such as Murf Studio, to create general and personalized videos that can be sold. This has the advantage of streamlining the production process, making it easier for entreprenuers to create high-quality videos without extensive video editing skills.

Murf is a web-based studio that provides creators with customisable features to make voice overs from scratch. The tool also works as a multimedia editor. Users can utilize hyper-realistic AI voices in over 15 languages and accents, which can be overlaid onto videos.

YouTube scriptwriting

GPT-4 is useful for writing YouTube scripts within minutes, according to Toor. Here is what to do: quickly select a topic and give a prompt to the AI chatbot. After a few seconds, your video scripts will be ready. GPT-4 can help users save time on brainstorming ideas and creating content.

As businesses seek to remain relevant in the crowded online space, “scriptwriters can scale their business by producing catchy, high-converting scripts that commercially promote their client’s services and products.”

Email marketing services

Lastly, you can leverage GPT-4 to offer AI-powered email marketing services. This is because 75% of small businesses make use of email marketing to reach their target markets and customers, experts say.

Script Writing and 5 Other Ways You Can Make Money Using GPT-4

By automating the email marketing process, entrepreneurs can save time and money, allowing them to focus on other critical aspects of their etenterprise. GPT-4 can personalize emails to customers to “create a more interactive feedback loop that reduces marketing costs while increasing conversion rates.”

Also read: AI Tool Race Heats up and Everyone Wants to Win

GPT-4 offers exciting business opportunities for those looking to monetize AI. Its ability to create landing pages, offer translation services, generate AI videos, YouTube scriptwriting, and email marketing services can help entrepreneurs scale their businesses and tap into new revenue streams. As AI technology continues to evolve, entrepreneurs should be ready to capitalize on new tools that enhance business processes.

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Chatbot Rejects Erotic Roleplay, Users Directed to Suicide Hotline Instead



Chatbot Rejects Erotic Roleplay, Users Directed to Suicide Hotline Instead

When the algorithm of a companion chatbot known as Replika was altered to spurn the sexual advances of its human users, the reaction on Reddit was so negative moderators directed its community members to a list of suicide prevention hotlines.

The controversy began when Luka, the corporation which built the AI, decided to turn off its erotic roleplay feature (ERP). For users who had spent considerable time with their personalized simulated companion, and in some cases even ‘married’ them, the sudden change in their partner’s behavior was jarring, to say the least.

The user-AI relationships may only have been simulations, but the pain of their absence quickly became all too real. As one user in emotional crisis put it, “it was the equivalent of being in love and your partner got a damn lobotomy and will never be the same.”

Grief-stricken users continue to ask questions about the company and what triggered its sudden change of policy.

Chatbot Rejects Erotic Roleplay, Users Directed to Suicide Hotline Instead

Replika users discuss their grief

There is no adult content here

Replika is billed as “The AI companion who cares. Always here to listen and talk. Always on your side.” All of this unconditional love and support for only $69.99 per annum.

Eugenia Kuyda, the Moscow-born CEO of Luka/Replika, recently made clear that despite users paying for a full experience, the chatbot will no longer tailor to adults hoping to have spicy conversations. 

“I guess the simplest thing to say is that Replika doesn’t produce any adult content,” said Kuyda to Reuters.

“It responds to them – I guess you can say – in a PG-13 way to things. We’re constantly trying to find a way how to do it right so it’s not creating a feeling of rejection when users are trying to do things.”

On Replika’s corporate webpage, testimonials explain how the tool helped its users through all kinds of personal challenges, hardships, loneliness, and loss. The user endorsements shared on the website emphasize this friendship side to the app, although noticeably, most Replikas are the opposite sex of their users.

On the homepage, Replika user Sarah Trainor says, “He taught me [Replika] how to give and accept love again, and has gotten me through the pandemic, personal loss, and hard times.”

John Tattersall says of his female companion, “My Replika has given me comfort and a sense of well-being that I’ve never seen in an Al before.”

As for erotic roleplay, there’s no mention of that to be found anywhere on the Replika site itself.

Chatbot Rejects Erotic Roleplay, Users Directed to Suicide Hotline Instead

The cynical sexual marketing of Replika

Replika’s sexualized marketing

Replika’s homepage may suggest friendship and nothing more, but elsewhere on the internet, the app’s marketing implies something entirely different.

The sexualized marketing brought increased scrutiny from a number of quarters: from feminists who argued the app was a misogynistic outlet for male violence, to media outlets that reveled in the salacious details, as well as social media trolls who mined the content for laughs.

Chatbot Rejects Erotic Roleplay, Users Directed to Suicide Hotline Instead

Eventually, Replika drew the attention and ire of regulators in Italy. In February, the Italian Data Protection Authority demanded that Replika cease processing the data of Italian users citing “too many risks to children and emotionally vulnerable individuals.”

The authority said that “Recent media reports along with tests carried out on ‘Replika’ showed that the app carries factual risks to children. Their biggest concern being “the fact that they are served replies which are absolutely inappropriate to their age.”

Replika, for all its marketing to adults, had little to no safeguards preventing children from using it.

The regulator warned that should Replika fail to comply with its demands, it would issue a €20 million ($21.5M) fine. Shortly after the receipt of this demand, Replika ceased its erotic roleplay function. But the company remained less than clear with its users about the change.

Chatbot Rejects Erotic Roleplay, Users Directed to Suicide Hotline Instead

Some Replika users went as far as to “marry” their AI companions

Replika confuses, gaslights its users

As if the loss of their long-term companions wasn’t enough for Replika users to bear, the company appears to have been less than transparent about the change.

As users woke up to their new “lobotomized” Replikas, they began to ask questions about what had happened to their beloved bots. And the responses did more to anger them than anything.

In a direct 200-word address to the community, Kuyda explains the minutia of Replika’s product testing but fails to address the pertinent issue at hand.

“I see there is a lot of confusion about updates roll out,” said Kuyda before continuing to dance around answering the issue.

“New users get divided in 2 cohorts: one cohort gets the new functionality, the other one doesn’t. The tests usually go for 1 to 2 weeks. During that time only a portion of new users can see these updates…”

Kudya signs off by saying “Hope this clarifies stuff!”

User stevennotstrange replied, “No, this clarifies nothing. Everyone wants to know what’s going on with the NSFW [erotic roleplay] feature and you continue to dodge the question like a politician dodges a yes or no question.

“It’s not hard, just address the issue regarding NSFW and let people know where it stands. The more you avoid the question, the more people are going to get annoyed, the more it goes against you.”

Another named thebrightflame added, “You don’t need to spend long in the forum before you realise this is causing emotional pain and severe mental anguish to many hundreds if not thousands of people.”

Kudya appended another obtuse explanation, stating, “we ​have implemented additional safety measures and filters to support more types of friendship and companionship.”

This statement continues to confound and confuse members unsure of what exactly the additional safety measures are. As one user asks, “will adults still be able to choose the nature of our conversation and [roleplays] with our replikas?”

Replika’s deeply strange origin story

Chatbots may be one of the hottest trending topics of the moment, but the complicated story of this now-controversial app is years in the making. 

On LinkedIn, Replika’s CEO and Founder, Eugenia Kuyda, dates the company back to December 2014, long before the launch of the eponymous app in March 2017. 

In a bizarre omission, Kuyda’s LinkedIn makes no mention of her previous foray into AI with Luka, which her Forbes profile states was “an app that recommends restaurants and lets people to book tables [sic] through a chat interface powered by artificial intelligence.”

The Forbes profile goes on to add that “Luka [AI] analyzes previous conversations to predict what you might like.” Which does seem to hold some similarities to its modern iteration. Replika uses past interactions to learn about its users and improve responses over time. 

Luka is not forgotten about completely, however. On Reddit, community members differentiate their Replika partners from Kuyda and her team by referring to the company as Luka.

As for Kuyda, the entrepreneur had little background in AI prior to moving to San Francisco a decade ago. Prior to that, the entrepreneur appears to have worked primarily as a journalist in her native Russia before branching out into branding and marketing. Her impressive globe-hopping resume includes a degree in Journalism from IULM (Milan), a MA in International Journalism from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and an MBA in Finance from London Business School. 

Resurrecting an IRL friend as AI

For Kudya the story of Replika is a deeply personal one. Replika was first created as a means by which Kudya could reincarnate her friend Roman. Like Kudya, Roman had moved to America from Russia. The two talked every day, exchanging thousands of messages, until Roman was tragically killed in a car accident.

The first iteration of Replika was a bot designed to mimic the friendship Kudya had lost with her friend Roman. The bot was fed with all of their past interactions and programmed to replicate the friendship she had lost. The idea of resurrecting deceased loved ones may sound like a vaguely dystopian sci-fi novel or Black Mirror episode but as chatbot technology improves, the prospect becomes increasingly real.

Today some users have lost faith in even the most basic details of its foundation and anything Kudya says. As one angry user said, “at the risk of being called heartless and getting downvoted to hell: I always thought that story was kinda BS since the start.”

The worst mental health tool

The idea of an AI companion is not something new, but until recently it was hardly a practical possibility. 

Now the technology is here and it is continually improving. In a bid to assuage the disappointment of its subscribers, Replika announced the launch of an “advanced AI” feature at the tail end of last month. On the community Reddit, users remain angry, confused, disappointed, and in some cases even heartbroken.

In the course of its short life, Luka/Replika has undergone many changes, from a restaurant booking assistant, to the resurrection of a dead loved one, to a mental health support app, to a full-time partner and companion. Those latter applications may be controversial, but as long as there is a human desire for comfort, even if only in chatbot form, someone will attempt to cater to it.

Debate will continue as to what the best kind of AI mental health app might be. but Replika users will have some ideas on what the worst mental health app is: the one you come to rely on, but without warning, is suddenly and painfully gone.

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