“(T)he growing buzz surrounding (generative AI) has reached a fervor the likes of which the (venture capital) market hasn't seen in years,” according to venture capital market research published by Pitchbook. “The release of tools like DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT has captured a wide array of investors by demonstrating that generative AI is now ready to be applied to various commercial applications from advertising and law to writing software code.”
There’s definitely a lot of excitement surrounding generative AI technology, but can you invest in OpenAI’s ChatGPT? Here the Investing News Network (INN) answers that question and more.
What is OpenAI's ChatGPT?
Created by San Francisco-based tech lab OpenAI, ChatGPT is a generative AI software application that uses a machine learning technique called reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF) to emulate human-written conversations based on a large range of user prompts. This kind of software is better known as an AI chatbot.
ChatGPT learns language by training on texts gleaned from across the internet, including online encyclopedias, books, academic journals and blogs. Based on this training, the AI chatbot generates text by making predictions about which words (or tokens) can be strung together to produce the most suitable response.
More than a million people engaged with ChatGPT within the first week of its launch for free public testing on November 30, 2022. Many were in awe of the chatbot’s seemingly natural language capabilities, not only in terms of understanding questions, but also because of its human-like responses. In essence, users felt as if they were having a conversation with a real human being.
Besides being an excellent conversation partner, ChatGPT can write engaging short stories, moving poetry and catchy song lyrics.
Based on this success, OpenAI has created a more powerful version of the ChatGPT system called GPT-4, which was released in mid-March 2023. According to AI experts, this latest iteration of ChatGPT can accept visual inputs, is much more precise and can display a higher level of expertise in various subjects. GPT-4 can describe images in vivid detail, and ace standardized tests.
However, AI researcher and professor Dr. Oren Etzioni has said that OpenAI's chatbot is still terrible at discussing the future and generating new ideas. And it hasn't lost its tendency to deliver incorrect information with too high a degree of confidence.
What is Elon Musk's relationship to OpenAI?
OpenAI was founded in 2015 by current CEO Sam Altman, as well as Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) Elon Musk and other big-name investors, such as venture capitalist Peter Thiel and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. Musk left his position on OpenAI's board of directors in 2018 to focus on Tesla and its pursuit of autonomous vehicle technology.
A few days after ChatGPT became available for public testing, Musk took to Twitter to say, “ChatGPT is scary good. We are not far from dangerously strong AI.” That same day, he announced that Twitter had shut the door on OpenAI’s access to its database so it could no longer use it for RLHF training. His reason: “OpenAI was started as open-source & non-profit. Neither are still true.”
Is ChatGPT revolutionary or hype?
Is ChatGPT a revolutionary technology or just another hyped-up tech fad that will flop, much in the way of Google Glass or the Segway? It may be too early to tell, but as with any new technology, there are plenty of wrinkles to iron out.
One of the most challenging bugs to fix before ChatGPT can be deployed more widely with a high degree of confidence is the chatbot’s propensity to respond with “plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers," admits OpenAI. Remember, its selection of which words to string together in a response are actually predictions — not as fallible as mere guesses, but still fallible.
From basic math to medical information, ChatGPT doesn’t always provide the right answers — a failing that can have dangerous real-life consequences. The tech could be used to spread misinformation, carry out phishing email scams or write malicious code.
What’s more, the AI-based technology is prone to racial and gender-based biases. Not only has this language learning model contributed to the human-like quality of its responses, but it has also picked up on some of humanity’s shortcomings.
“ChatGPT was trained on the collective writing of humans across the world, past and present. This means that the same biases that exist in the data, can also appear in the model,” explains Garling Wu, staff writer for online technology publication MUO. “In fact, users have shown how ChatGPT can give produce some terrible answers, some, for example, that discriminate against women. But that's just the tip of the iceberg; it can produce answers that are extremely harmful to a range of minority groups.”
There’s also the fear among teachers that the technology is leading to an unwelcome rise in academic dishonesty, with students using ChatGPT to write essays or complete their science homework.
“Teachers and school administrators have been scrambling to catch students using the tool to cheat, and they are fretting about the havoc ChatGPT could wreak on their lesson plans,” writes New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose.
Despite these concerns, we’re likely to see new iterations of ChatGPT — hopefully without the aforementioned bugs — as OpenAI has the backing of tech giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Why is Microsoft investing in OpenAI?
Since 2019, Microsoft has invested at least US$3 billion in OpenAI to help the small tech firm create its ultra-powerful AI chatbot, as reported by New York Times technology correspondents Cade Metz and Karen Weise.
Microsoft is set to pour even more money into OpenAI in 2023. The company announced in mid-January that as part of the third phase of its partnership with OpenAI, it will make "a multiyear, multibillion dollar investment."
Although Microsoft hasn't said how much its latest spend will be, reports indicate that US$10 billion is on the table. According to Forbes, OpenAI was recently valued at US$29 billion, meaning Microsoft's US$10 billion move would be huge.
How could Microsoft benefit from its investment? It seems the tech giant is hopeful advancements in generative AI may have the potential to increase revenues for its Azure cloud computing business as OpenAI officially licensed its technologies to Microsoft in 2020. Indeed, Pitchbook has described the deal as an “unprecedented milestone” for generative AI technology.
What is Google's Bard AI?
While ChatGPT has been generating major buzz, it's definitely not the only chatbot out there.
Notably, Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) subsidiary Google is set to launch its answer to ChatGPT in the first half of 2023. Known as Bard AI, the chatbot has been under development for the past two years and entered the testing phase in early February. Ultimately, the company will incorporate the AI technology into its Google Search tool.
Bard is built on Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (or LaMDA). Google CEO Sundar Pichai has described Bard as an “experimental conversational AI service” that “seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models.”
As with ChatGPT, users can key in a query, request or prompt and Bard will provide a human-like response. One way in which Bard may have a leg up on ChatGPT is that the latter uses data up to 2021, while the former can access up-to-date information online.
However, Bard's ability to access current data hasn’t spared it from ChatGPT’s biggest folly: confidently stating misinformation as fact. The Verge reported that when asked about new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope, Google’s Bard “made a factual error in its very first demo.” It didn’t take long for astronomers and science writers to point out the error.
But, then again, to err is human. And Google says its committed to helping Bard learn from its mistakes.
Which stocks will benefit the most from AI chatbot technology?
Other than companies directly tied to generative AI technology, which stocks are likely to get a boost from advances in the sector?
There are several verticals in the tech industry with indirect exposure to AI chatbot technology, such as semiconductors, network equipment providers, cloud providers, central processing unit manufacturers and internet of things.
Some of the publicly traded companies in these verticals include:
- Graphics processing unit leader NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TPE:2330), a favorite of Warren Buffet’s
- Computer memory and data storage producer Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU)
- Digital communications firm Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO)
- Networking products provider Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR)
- Semiconductor producer Marvell Technology Group (NASDAQ:MRVL)
- Cloud-computing firm Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ:AMZN)
- Bluechip multinational technology company IBM (NYSE:IBM)
- The world's largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)
While most companies specializing in generative AI remain in the venture capital stage, there are plenty of AI stocks for those interested in the space. INN's article 5 Canadian Artificial Intelligence Stocks includes some examples.
Investors who don’t like to put all their eggs in one basket can check out these 5 Artificial Intelligence ETFs. And if you’re looking for a more general overview of the market, INN has you covered with How to Invest in Artificial Intelligence. You can also take a look back at the market in 2022 with our AI Market 2022 Year-End Review, or peer into the future of AI by reading our AI Market Forecast: 3 Top Trends that will Affect AI in 2023.
Can you invest in OpenAI right now?
So, can you invest in OpenAI itself? The company is not currently a publicly traded stock; however, if Microsoft does take a large position in the company, investors will be able to gain indirect exposure to OpenAI by purchasing Microsoft shares.
For those seeking direct exposure, be on the lookout for news of an initial public offering (IPO). As of late January 2023, there are no plans for an OpenAI IPO on the horizon, but the Wall Street Journal reported on January 5 that the AI lab is in talks with venture capital firms to sell at least US$300 million worth of existing shares in the company.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.