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December 07, 2022 12:37 pm | Updated 07:16 pm IST


A photo of 5G and AI technology, Global communication network concept. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

(This article is part of Today’s Cache, The Hindu’s newsletter on emerging themes at the intersection of technology, innovation and policy. To get it in your inbox, subscribe here.)

A little over two decades ago two Stanford graduates set out to organise information posted on the world wide web. They built an algorithm that helped users find web links to content on the internet. Browsing the web with the help of search engines like Google opened a new way for people to access content online just by typing keywords.

The tool was the need of the hour for those who complained of information overload as digitised content made publishing a lot easier compared to the earlier Gutenberg era. But this was only the era of emails. The internet’s distribution channels enabled content to spread far and wide, opening the floodgates of information. Search engines have helped people find content easily. 

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook later joined the flow, inundating the online world with a lot more text, image and video data. According to some estimates, by 2025, the amount of data generated on the Internet each day is expected to reach 463 exabytes globally. [An exabyte is 10 to the power 18.]

Making sense of such vast amount of content is impossible. So, a better way to organise and retrieve information can be helpful. Conversational chat bots could play a crucial role here, similar to what Google did during the email era.

OpenAI most recently introduced its large language model (LLM) ChatGPT for people to play with. The foundation accepts the chatbot has some limitations. And several users have also highlighted that it returns nonsensical responses.

But, on a basic level, I found the chatbot to be quite useful. It opened a new paradigm in search and retrieval that, possibly, would make information overload manageable. Understandably, several users noted that school and college students could use the bot to get some assignments done using the chatbot’s capability to give apt responses. Stack Overflow, a site where developers ask and answer coding questions, temporarily banned the use of text generated from ChatGPT. 

Perhaps, here OpenAI can think of a watermark solution. That could help forums such as Stack Overflow and school and college educators withhold solutions developed from conversations with ChatGPT.



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