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William Tucker

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By William Tucker
Edge Contributor

Since its public introduction in November 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a large language model-based chatbot, has attracted millions of users worldwide and demonstrated the potential artificial intelligence (AI) has for future use. Despite the initial popularity – and controversy – ChatGPT has witnessed a downturn in users since May 2023, according to Reuters.

This downturn, albeit slight, prompted OpenAI to address the matter with investors. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has promised to increase revenue with the launch of a new ChatGPT platform, ChatGPT Enterprise, that is business-centric.

The slight decline of ChatGPT users is most likely due to the summer school break and the introduction of competing AI chatbots. However, some people reporting on the dip in ChatGPT users suggest that AI itself is nothing more than a passing curiosity.

There is the possibility that many news sources are simply engaging in clickbait or conflating one company’s woes with AI technology. Regardless, global competition in the AI field and the application of AI from matters of state to numerous scientific fields suggest that artificial intelligence is here to stay.

Related: AI in Higher Education: Aiding Students’ Academic Journey

The Medical Use of AI Software

ChatGPT is a public-facing AI and might give the appearance that all AI programs are similar in usage and features. However, that is not the case. Several companies, such as Google, have public-facing AIs, but they also have AI software that is task-specific and relies on users to provide the needed data.

For example, Google DeepMind, a Google subsidiary, stated last year that DeepMind project AlphaFold, an AI system, was successfully used to predict the 3D structures of nearly every catalogued protein (around 200 million) known to science, according to CNET. All of this information is now stored in the AlphaFold Protein Structure Database.

Previously, protein structures could only be uncovered using expensive and lengthy experimentation, but Google’s AI software worked out the solution to a vexing issue in under a year. By comparison, it took over a decade of research to map the 3D structure of a single protein.

Mapping these protein structures will improve medication in healthcare and potentially lead to breakthroughs in genetic therapy. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of protein mapping, but it wouldn’t have been possible without AI.

Related: ChatGPT: The Pros and Cons of Using AI in the Classroom

AI and Global Security

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is also looking to use AI software in multiple capabilities, an especially important endeavor considering declining military recruitment rates. Currently, the U.S. has unmanned naval vessels patrolling waters where threats to international shipping are greatest, such as the major chokepoints around the Middle East, according to Fox Business.

Naval vessels are expensive and take time to manufacture, considering their expansive use of cutting-edge technologies. The use of small, unmanned vessels allows the Navy to monitor a greater area, ranging from the bottom of the sea to the edge of space.

Additionally, China’s rapidly growing navy may not be as technologically sophisticated as the U.S. Navy, but its increasing number of ships poses a challenge to Washington’s attempts at containing Beijing. Unmanned vessels, powered by AI software, have already demonstrated the ability to close some of these gaps. With DoD plans to build more AI-powered systems over the next two years, the face of war as we currently know it will quickly change. 

Naturally, the U.S. is not the only player looking to leverage AI software. Near-peer adversaries such as China and Russia also have plans to deploy AI-powered systems.

With this competition underway, no advanced military or economic power will be able to turn away from the potential benefits or threats that AI software provides. The analogy “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle” is apt in this regard, and the current downturn in usage of one company’s AI application should not be viewed as an overarching trend for this emerging and disruptive technology.

AI software has already demonstrated that it can provide life-changing solutions to complex human problems. Despite reporting to the contrary, AI software is unlikely to be going away.