As flashy as Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT are, old heads know that the Robot Apocalypse has exactly one and only one horseman: computer programs that can write computer programs.
Artificially intelligent machines can’t ascend to godhood via the long-prophesied runaway spiral of continuous self-improvement until we invent a machine learning model that can code a better version of itself. We’re not there yet, and it’s not clear how far away such a development is, but as of the mid-2021 release of OpenAI’s Codex model, we’re a lot closer than we were just a few years ago.
Given that self-improving computer programs would likely be the most important human invention since writing, there is no other part of the AI content generation revolution that’s worthy of more study and careful scrutiny than generative models that output code.
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