Will artificial intelligence be bigger than the internet? How a Utah lawmaker is thinking about the future

Editor’s note:This is part of a series from KSL.com looking at the rise of artificial intelligence technology tools like ChatGPT, the opportunities and risks they pose, and what impacts they could have on various aspects of our daily lives.

SALT LAKE CITY Like all lawmakers in the Utah city legislature, House Majority Leader Jefferson Moss spends most of the year working a day job.

Moss, a Republican from Saratoga Springs, has a background in venture capital and technology, so he was quick to see the potential in artificially intelligent chatbots like ChatGPT when it was released last November. And while government as a whole may be slow to adopt new technologies, Moss already sees recent breakthroughs in AI technology as huge leaps forward.

“I’ve followed several iterations of the AI, but when ChatGPT came out, it was really a game changer,” Moss told KSL.com in March. “I think this was the first one that could really show the power. I’ve seen some AIs doing translation services or you’ll see some that can do cool things, but nothing that has the potential it has to really be a disruptive innovation.”

ChatGPT and other similar large language models use existing information to predict a sequence of words that should follow a particular prompt, creating impressive and sophisticated text in seconds. As with previous technologies, advances in artificial intelligence have come with warnings of potential downsides, including widespread job losses as automation replaces work previously done by humans.

It’s too early to predict with certainty, but Moss is optimistic that people will find ways to adapt to the technology.

“In education, there was someone on a stage and you just had to listen to them. When the internet came out, there was this perception that there was no need for teachers anymore,” Moss said. “Well, no, we just changed the way we do things. You can leverage technology and further improve your work; it just takes away some pieces of it.It’s how you actually use the technology and implement it that’s really important.

Rather than be sidelined by AI, Moss said successful entrepreneurs will learn how to use it to automate more menial tasks. Small business owners learning to take advantage of technology could see huge productivity gains by outsourcing marketing, customer service, and other services to AI, rather than hiring or hiring paid professionals.

Current technology will only get better, and Moss said he wouldn’t be surprised if AI eventually has a bigger impact on society than the internet’s inception, once again changing the way most people consume information.

“Right now, when you go to a website, it’s very static, it’s not personalized,” he said. “If you incorporate AI into search engines and websites, you can get very targeted and specific information for you that no one else gets. And I think that’s the power of artificial intelligence.

Moss acknowledged that may not always be a good thing. The internet and social media have already made it easier to spread misinformation, and artificial intelligence has the potential to make it even easier.

“There are some definite limitations and concerns about that. I think this is a new technology that is still emerging, but there will be a need for guardrails hopefully put in place by the companies themselves on the limits that could produce information that could lead to negative outcomes,” he said. “I hope the industry corrects a lot of that and you try to keep it from being too selective, but it’s definitely something that will be of concern as it gets more and more popular.”

As a state, Moss doesn’t think Utah is eager to start regulating AI. Rather, he expects lawmakers to institute studies to better understand the technology and make recommendations from there.

And while AI could conceivably be able to craft laws or government policies in the near future, he doesn’t think Utah will be delegating to chatbots anytime soon.

“They’ve shown that they’re capable of passing the bar exam (for lawyers), so they clearly have the potential to do something similar,” he said. “But how we currently make policy is a very personal and interactive process. We will involve interested parties to come up with concepts together. This requires a lot of personal interaction, so I don’t know if I’ll see that in the near future.

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